Evaluating ROI in IT? 3 New Ways to Ask Old Questions

What problem are you solving? How much money are you saving me? What makes you different?

These are basic questions every IT buyer in the world asks when evaluating ROI during the purchase of a new solution (SentinelAgent MaaS, for example!). The solution whose answers make the best case to the buyer gets the sale. Is it really that simple? In economics class, yes. In reality, no.

1. What problem are you solving? What does this have the potential to do?

Not so long ago, the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” was universally applicable. Necessity in the 21st century however, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. None of us “need” a smartphone, but now that they’re available and we see what they allows us to do, we all NEED a smartphone. The world of IT, specifically, isn’t about problems and solutions anymore, it’s about potential. What does this device, service or software have the potential to do?

Evaluating ROI is about this potential, not just solving an immediately apparent problem. Smart buying decisions are made on the basis of opportunity and future planning. Sure you’ve been doing things a certain way for the last while, but you’re competition might not have been around when you came up with your way of doing things. They’re looking at your status quo and asking themselves how they’re going to do it better! You wanted a problem to solve? Playing catch up with the competition is a problem nobody wants.

2. How much money are you saving me? What is the status quo costing me?

You’ve got your costs under control and you’re familiar with your processes. You’re fully ensconced in the status quo and you’re business is humming. So where’s the risk? The truth is, there might not be a risk. You could survive for years operating like this. But let’s agree that the odds of that happening are slim. Every business has to evolve to survive.

Seasoned IT buyers know that evaluating ROI isn’t just about the price of the purchase, it’s also the price of not making the purchase. Cost certainty from established processes and tools is an accountant’s dream, but IT leaders don’t always have the luxury of such comforts. They must make moves for the company that, at first, might seem like an unnecessary expense, but quickly become part of the company’s strategic advantage. Spending money to protect your ability to make more money is very different from spending money to protect the money you already have.

3. What makes you different? What do you do best?

How many “me too” companies do very well in their respective markets? Most of us are “me too” companies with “me too” products and services. So why do we insist on asking questions like “what makes you different?” It’s not about what makes us different, it’s about what we do best! We’re good at this! What more do you want?

Evaluating ROI then becomes an intangible. “Their prices are in line with the competition, their features are too. So why should we choose them?” [Insert all gut feelings here] [Insert all ancillary criteria here] SentinelAgent can’t promise or pretend to be System Center or ManageEngine. We’re just good at what we do. Our solution is stable, well supported, and affordable. That’s what we do best. We make a solution that lives up to its promise and it works!