Adding new IT solutions within your technology infrastructure can sometimes be a tricky proposition, even in circumstances where the upgrade provides a solid business benefit to your company. Aside from the potential budgetary impacts and the inevitable hoops to jump through, the internal realities of most enterprise corporations require a certain level of political skill to move the technology from an idea to an approved reality. Sometimes this can be difficult to imagine – especially in circumstances where the desired upgrade brings such obvious benefits from your own perspective. But virtually all major upgrades will require an internal champion. Here are seven methods to help you build your case, and be a better internal champion:
Evaluate new IT solutions with an eye towards defending them.
It is important that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the solution that you are recommending and be able to effectively articulate both of those. The more homework you do on a particular technology, the better your chances of success. Bear in mind that any new concept brought to the table is going to displace some previous method for accomplishing the same, or similar, objective. You are pretty much guaranteed that someone in a position of authority is just fine with the old way of doing things. This individual may confront you directly, or they may work silently behind the scenes to derail your efforts. It is important to know who your detractors might be, and where their influence is located. While you will want to build support within those areas of influence, it is important to make good faith efforts to persuade these individuals of the value of your proposal. This is true even if you believe those efforts will be in vain, because of failure to make the necessary overture can sometimes reinforce their opposition.
Dive deeply into both the upfront costs of the transitions, as well as the ongoing cost of ownership.
Know your numbers! When the qualitative benefits of a new enhancement are often easier and more exciting to discuss, the initiative will inevitably turn to the dollars and cents. Exhaustive research on the cost of transition, combined with critical analysis on how the new upgrade will effectively serve as a corporate differentiator, will almost universally be a worthwhile effort.
Who are the other key players likely to benefit from this transition, and how can you build support among them towards increased advocacy?
Take an honest assessment of the challenges faced by your organization, and how your suggested upgrade is likely to improve the situation. In most cases, other departments were leaders will also experience benefits. Reach out to those people, share with them what you have learned, and proactively ask for their support in bringing this decision to a successful conclusion.
What are the political sensitivities and turf battles that might work against you?
Most enterprise organizations evolved at a time when voice infrastructure, data infrastructure, and other technology subcategories were independently managed by different groups within the organization. To a certain extent, many of these disparate groups on the org chart have already consolidated, but in many cases the segmentation still exists and can lead to turf battles – even in circumstances where the positive outcome should be clearly recognizable. Thus, you may need to spend a significant amount of time helping other technology leaders understand the value of your proposal. Try to minimize the extent to which you “go around” such individuals. This practice can sometimes come back to haunt you.
Which companies, either within your industry or outside of your industry, have fully leveraged this IT solution towards higher success?
Case studies can often be very effective in demonstrating value. To what extent have companies in your industry leveraged this solution, and what do you see as a result? Many times, your Trusted Advisor can help you find such examples. It’s also true that good examples may be found outside of your industry. But since many industries share common operational aspects, these examples can be just as effective.
What about the failures?
While talking about successes inevitably comes more easily than discussing failures, those failures can often carry lessons that are even more profound. So, don’t be afraid to flip the previous question upside down and discuss examples of failure when there are valuable lessons to be learned.
What resources can the trusted advisor bring to the table that will help you with all of these matters?
The common denominator for all of these suggestions is the role that the Trusted Advisor can play in helping you to collect the necessary information. Your Trusted Advisor obviously wants to see you succeed in this regard, and they have come to recognize the complexities of the technology sale within an enterprise organization. They welcome the opportunity to have an internal champion supporting a new solution and will often go to great lengths to support the objective you both share.