I was reading a blog post from my good friend John Schmidt, Chairman of the Integration Consortium…
…and now with a day job at Informatica, about trying to get funding for integration initiatives (in his case he was focusing on funding for an integration competency centre, a personal hot button), and I was very taken with John’s view of using an ‘internal free market’ approach to getting funding approved.
John points out that while 70% of IT budgets are non-discretionary, just keeping everything running, most companies have at least some budget for investment, but that the problem is the investment portfolio is spread across many different parts of the business, greatly reducing any individual department budget to the point that walking in asking someone for $1M of their own budget is going to be a serious impact to that budget holder. But John advises a creative approach:
So why not look at the portfolio of internal projects in an enterprise as a “market”. Why not apply some of the concepts that have proven so successful in the free market economy to the internal operations of an organization. Since everyone needs integration, if you could simply get a good understanding of the demand in the internal market, you could build a business around it.
This made me think of the Lustratus report I wrote recently on justifying integration investment in an economic downturn, by putting a laser-beam focus on ROI. Adding John’s internal market approach seems to provide another dimension to the ROI focus I was recommending. In other words, while the ROI paper looks at how to justify operational budget investment for SOA, the same problem that John describes may rear its head, and it may be impossible to find someone to slice their own investment budget even though the business case is strong. But by combining the ROI focus with an internal market business case, success is much more likely. Effectively, the running costs can then be covered by a small chargeback to each project to reflect the improved productivity they will all experience, or whatever other gain each department saw as part if its internal market needs.