Very important: When talking with the business execs, the business analysts are to make sure they don't get distracted by any requests for system features. Their mantra is, "My job is to help you get the business improvements you need. The technology might not look like what you're expecting, but I will make sure you get the improvement."
Give your BAs a week to sketch out the basic shape of a solution.
Now comes the payoff. Get the execs, including the CEO and CFO, into a room with you and your business analysts. Lay out the full program:
- The projects.
- The kludgy solutions your BAs have come up with that will get everything done on the cheap.
- The long-term risks associated with relying on a swarm of band-aid-and-chewing-gum automation.
- Your estimate of the cost of cleaning up the mess after the crisis has passed.
Tell the CEO and CFO they have two choices: They can have IT take care of just one or two projects the right way or all of the projects the wrong way. If they choose the latter, recommend they start reserving budget dollars now for the effort you'll have to expend in a year or two cleaning up the kludge.
When they make their decision (which will almost certainly be to go ahead with the kludges), accept it and make it work.
We've all been saying for years that these are business decisions. It's time to make that real.