The 7 key elements to secure the green light for a transformative IT Project.

Following on from my recent research into the data strategy issues in a digital transformation project, the #1 success factor was loud and clear. A clear vision, communicated throughout the organisation, from the CEO down.

With that in mind, I’ve been speaking to a CEOs about what it takes to get the green light from them. I found out what resonates with these stakeholders, and the most important aspects to win them over, paving the way for the successful execution of major IT projects.

Contributors came from a mix of corporate and medium sized business.

1. Alignment with Strategic Goals:

As an experienced CEO with over 30 years’ experience in the banking sector, this CEO has shifted focus since Covid to become involved in taking startups through their growth phase. He said, CEOs are ultimately accountable for the company’s overall performance and success. They should be laser-focused on achieving strategic goals that drive growth, profitability, and market leadership. To capture his attention, an IT project proposal must explicitly outline how the project aligns with these overarching objectives. He wanted it clearly demonstrated how a project will enhance operational efficiency, customer experience, revenue streams, or market reach. If you could establish a direct link between a project and the company’s strategic vision, you would establish its importance in the eyes of this decision maker.

2. ROI and Financial Impact:

At the same time, he held the purse strings and was responsible for allocating resources judiciously to maximise return on investment. For his own projects he would complete his own cost benefit analysis. However, if he was being presented with an initiative, he would expect a compelling financial case. This would highlight potential cost savings, revenue growth, and competitive advantages the project will deliver. He would be looking for both the short-term and long-term financial outcomes to provide a comprehensive view of the project’s impact on the bottom line.

3. Risk Assessment and Mitigation:

Mitigating risks associated with IT projects was paramount for all the decision makers interviewed. I’d want to ensure that the project would not jeopardize the company’s stability or reputation was one response. The CEO of a Charitable Trust gave me her must haves. I expect a detailed risk assessment that identifies potential obstacles, such as technological challenges, timeline disruptions, or security vulnerabilities. Equally important is a well-structured mitigation plan that demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing these concerns, she said. To be effective in presenting to her, she needed to see a strategy in place to navigate through the various scenarios.

4. Scalability and Flexibility:

We touched on the impending impact of AI in a dynamic business environment in the previous conversation and it came up again in this one. The CEO of a niche telecommunications provider was most interested in new technology initiatives being scalable and adaptable. He was looking for projects that can evolve alongside the company’s growth trajectory. For his company there was an aversion to being aligned with any tech stack, but any proposed IT solution had to scale to accommodate increased demands without major disruptions or overhauls. He wanted to make sure that the company was flexible enough to integrate with future technologies and AI trends and remained agile and competitive.

5. Stakeholder Involvement and Change Management:

CEOs recognize that the success of IT projects hinges on effective stakeholder engagement and change management. The former CEO of an international credit card provider and currently a consultant to the Fintech industry addressed concerns about potential disruptions to ongoing operations and employee resistance to change. It’s now his role to assist the C-suite in strategy and board presentations. He will put together a comprehensive plan detailing how the presenter intends to involve all relevant departments and personnel throughout the project’s lifecycle.  In his opinion, a well-designed change management strategy ensures confidence in the CEO that the project’s benefits will be fully realized across the organization.

6. Innovation and Competitive Edge:

CEOs are always on the lookout for innovative solutions that give their company a competitive edge. “Innovation and Competitive Edge” must be weighed against “Risk and Mitigation”. Some CEO’s and organisations have very different risk profiles which must be taken into consideration. If your CEO has the interest and enthusiasm to be seen as a driver of differentiation, then position your IT project as a catalyst for innovation within the industry or market. Highlight how the project will enable the company to offer unique products or services, streamline processes, or capture new market segments.

7. Expertise and Experience:

This struck a chord with the CEOs. Make sure you have the first 6 points down but ultimately decision makers often place their trust in individuals or teams with a track record of successful project delivery. Highlight your team’s expertise, experience, and previous accomplishments in handling similar IT projects. Showcase the qualifications of key team members who will be leading the initiative. This will reassure the CEO that the project is in capable hands.


Gaining approval from the CEO or top decision maker for a major IT project requires a strategic approach that combines alignment with strategic goals, a solid financial case, risk assessment and mitigation, scalability, stakeholder involvement, innovation, clear communication, and a demonstrated track record of success. By addressing these key elements comprehensively and effectively in your project proposal, you’ll increase your chances of securing the green light for a transformative IT project that propels the company towards greater success.

Thank you again to the contributors. I look forward to further conversations in blogs and podcasts in the coming months.  If you’d like to contribute and be part of the conversation, please drop me an email at

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