October 05, 2023

5 Ways to Get Budget for your Data projects

Dear Data lovers,  

Let's talk about a topic that's absolutely critical: MONEY. It's a simple truth – without securing a budget for your data management projects, your brilliant ideas and the countless benefits they promise will remain trapped in your thoughts or, at best, within your department's confines.

We can continually expand our technical competences, acquire new skills, and bolster our knowledge, but the simple reality remains: if you can't convey the value of data to business, and specifically, the value of a particular Data Management project, your skills and the power of data will never see the light of day.

While it may seem pretty obvious, based on our 7 years of experience discussing with Data Management thought leaders, practitioners and experts listening to MDM and DM issues, we came to the conclusion that indeed, getting stakeholders support and budget is the biggest, most crucial issue affecting Data Management teams. 

In our opinion, the greatest limitation consists in the inadequacy of communication. We've all heard the litany "The business doesn't get it!" but...why should they? Do we get them? Are we going to persist in highlighting the problem, or do we finally want to be the solution? And also, why do we categorise the business as they? Aren't Data people part of the business? Well, if we want to be an integral part of the business, we should start learning how to be proactive, negotiate and communicate with different departments.

Here are our tips to help you succeed in that, and beware we do not have the technical expertise that you have, but again, the people you need to persuade don't have it either. 


  1. Showcase your achievements and results 

To non Data people, your authority is reflected in what you achieve rather than in certifications. If you have a good track record with Data projects, but even if you have achieved something small but meaningful, use it to build authority! 

However, remember that the stakeholders have a different perspective and a different background, and that we need to present achievements that are visible to them, not to us. Clean Data, or excellent Data Quality is what a Data professional would appreciate, but quite honestly, the business side cannot appreciate it and frankly...doesn't care about the cleanliness of Data. So ask yourself, what is the business outcome of your past Data projects and focus solely on that when requesting a budget. Imagine you are giving an ice cream to a kid; does a child care about the exact temperature of the ice cream, the grams of sugar used, and the geographical origin of the berries? 


  1. Be the solution to a business problem or the facilitator of a company goal

This is how you can get attention! In other words, you need to be relevant to the people you are asking the budget to. If your Data vision does not fit within the company vision, then you will exacerbate the Data vs Business separation, and fail at getting the attention and budget you need. How do you do that? 
Start listening, talking to other departments to uncover needs and wants, investigate both the mission and vision of your organisation and craft a Data vision that not only supports but also empowers these goals. 


  1. Be passionate and proactive

If all you do is fulfill requests and stay in a job title box, it will always be hard to increase your importance and gain further budget for Data projects. Also, remember that you are the Data expert, and you can expand your role and importance in your organisation far more than the person who hired you for a specific task. So, let's bring passion back in the game, enthusiasm, and always think one step further than you are told to. 


  1. Make friends with other people in other departments   

Step out of the Data Management box and bond with people from other departments and goals. There are multiple significant benefits, starting from the fact that you need all the support you need when it comes to your projects. Secondly, you will be able to informally cross the wall that separates departments and that is often the cause of a silos mentality. Finally and most importantly, learning from a different perspective will help you tailoring a Data Value Proposition that touches all departments, connects people and empowers them. 


  1. Be clear and concise

Avoid clutter in your message. Start by developing an elevator pitch, keep it concise, clear so that anyone can understand the goal and the steps to get there and finally, use words that are easy to understand for non Data people. 
Ask yourself whether you need to present specific information to a particular audience and what is the goal?  If you can’t answer it immediately, write it off your presentation.
Sometimes we think that lengthening our presentations and using technical jargon makes us appear knowledgeable and adds credit to our work, whereas the result is quite the opposite. We appear obscure, confusing, geeky and frankly boring. 
Also, consider that people's attention capacity is often limited to what they care about and very little else, so seize their attention quickly and effectively. 

These 5 ways to get a budget may look intuitive, almost simplistic and yet, most of the conferences and courses for Data professionals focus on the technical how rather than the why, which is what your business counterpart primarily cares about. 

At ThinkLinkers, we believe in balancing data skills with people skills, the how and the why, and particularly at a time when AI is progressively replacing repetitive, technical tasks, we foresee that soft skills will increasingly become the competitive differentiator for Data and technology professionals. 

That is why we partnered with Christelle Patriarca, Data Lover and Founder of DataisLife and created an online course named “Soft Skills for Data People: The Secret is Communication ''. In 8 chapters, we will share the foundations of effective communication drawing from our experience and lessons learned on the field. It’s time to balance your technical expertise with permanent skills that enable your ideas to shine and your initiatives to take off: 


Yours Truly,