Most of the time engineers and other technical persons wonder why they fail  to hold the attention of top management to their presentation on projects or performance reports or requesting additional funds in annual maintenance or CAPEX budget. I learned from experience that the top management/ board members or the people who control the funds understand only one language that is dollar and cents.

When I was the head of training and development in one of the public listed group in Malaysia, during my presentation to the board I spoke about the requirement about more funds allocation for increasing CBT (Competency Based Training)  skill development program and how that increases productivity by around 20%. The chairman joked whether I meant Criminal Breach of Trust by CBT and whole board erupted in to laughter, but I did not get the allocation I sought. Then I realised that I spoke in a language that the corporate management doesn’t understand and learned to convert all the technical data in to money.

The top management having limited knowledge about project or maintenance technicalities and the technical persons have no or limited understanding of corporate management side fails to communicate in a language both understand contribute to the project failures.

Technical person in general tries to get everyone to pay attention to status report, man hours, percentage of improvements, failing to realise that to most in the corporate meetings, these are the least interesting things and they switch themselves off. It is important that the technical persons learn to understand the financial side in order to sell to the top management their ideas. What needs to be understood, then, is that value, when sold to an organization’s upper management from the technical perspective, needs to be defined in terms of dollars. That means every project, plan, or initiative that one want to launch needs to be converted to dollars. Whether it is a raise in productivity, reducing down time, improve efficiency it needs to be captured and converted to dollars.

For example the maintenance engineer may seek additional allocation of $50,000 to develop kit carts which may improve wrench time by 20%. Instead of saying in percentage calculate in monetary value say annualised savings of $5 million in labour cost and profit gain of around $15 million, then the request gets management’s serious attention.