Ok, IT is not a cost-center. We are valuable partners within any modern organization that can, and will, help you overcome complex problems. Looking at development as a cost makes this conversation more difficult.
Let’s say we have a deterministic project on the table, meaning no complexity, we know exactly what to do and the problem itself is in the simplistic domain. No unknowns and very straight forward. E.g. we want to move a stack of 1000 papers, one paper at a time, from point A to point B. One paper takes 1 hour to move, giving the entire project a cost of 1000 hours.
The discussion we should be having is what value do we gain from moving those papers? Is this the most valuable thing we can spend our time on? If we say our team capacity is 250 hours per month, the entire project of moving the papers will take 4 months. BUT this is not the true cost. You need to look at the potential value of all the things we are NOT doing during these 4 months. If this overlaps with a Christmas campaign, as an example, that has a market window and the campaign is estimated to provide value equivalent of 1M hours. Now the cost of moving the papers has increased to 1,001,000 hours.
My point here is that software development is complex and not simplistic in nature. When given a time or cost estimate the only thing that is true is that it is wrong. The more detailed the estimate the more wrong it will be.
As a stakeholder you will have a set amount of capacity at your disposal. What you decide to focus this capacity on will ultimately tell you the cost of having something delivered. We don’t want to waste all capacity at once, we want to help you, and the business, to make smart decisions. In order to do this we need you to explain your vision, share with us the problems you are facing and we will work together with you to solve those problems to move closer to the vision together.