What are the best ways to ensure you have your CEO’s backing for a tech implementation project?
You’ve come up with your specification and your supplier selection is complete. Your chosen tech solution has beautiful features and the potential to fulfil your wildest efficiency dreams. But you’re worried that the attraction won’t spread through your organisation starting at the very top.
How can you make your new tech solution an irresistible proposition for your CEO? Here are my tips for making sure it is impossible to resist.
1. Reduce the risk
I’ve met many CEOs in my career. I am sure that yours is no different from the rest. Their priority is to deliver strategic business goals and improve the bottom line. So it’s highly unlikely that a tech implementation over in procurement is front of mind.
Your CEO reads the news and see stories about IT project cost and time overruns. And their brief is to protect company reputation at all cost. While procurement may not always be top of their agenda, it’s important that your tech is a success story rather than something that keeps your CEO up at night.
And what I’ve found in all the tech implementations that I’ve been involved in is that managing risk should always be prioritised.
Set deadlines and milestones at the outset that you know your team can achieve to reduce the risk of project time overruns. Work with your provider and implementation partner at the start of the project to identify financial resources that will be required and any contingency funding that you need to put in place. You could even carry out a full dry run process (that we call blueprints) where we work to anticipate and eliminate risks and surprises.
These blueprints also bring alignment between your solution provider and implementation partner at the start of the project. This means all parties agree on:
Incorporate a contingency into your implementation plan. This means you won’t have to go back to your CEO and ask for more money if, for some reason, your blueprint changes or something doesn’t go as planned.
By actively managing risk you can set your project up for success and secure its position in your CEO’s heart.
2. Keep your promises
Your CEO wants any project that is approved to be delivered without deviation from the agreed scope. And the good news for you is that the evidence shows tech implementation projects now regularly achieve the objectives that they’ve been set.
One of our Fortune 200 clients’ CEO recently challenged our project team with an ambitious project objective: “I want you to implement a solution that everyone uses and everyone loves.”
We managed expectations by making sure that the blueprint was focused on the objectives of the project. This provided the guard rails to keep the team focused and not let them veer off the agreed project course.It’s important to remember: if the most perfect workflow or tech solution design does not meet the objective you set out to achieve, then you’ve broken any promises that you’ve made.
You can stay in scope by choosing an experienced implementation partner, who can help to keep things on track. Make sure their values align with yours and they have experience helping others move to where you want to go. Don’t forget your implementation partner becomes an extension of your team, and if their values are not aligned with yours, it will directly impact success.
When selecting an implementation partner think about their staffing approach:
- how do they compensate their people
- what’s their company culture and morale
- will you have access to executives if you need to escalate
Doing the thinking upfront with your project team about scope, implementation partners and key deliverables can help ensure your project objectives are achieved.
3. Make it an attractive proposition – and deliver
To make your tech solution attractive to your CEO you’ll need a compelling business case. And what an attraction the promise of savings and efficiencies is – particularly when this justifies the investment involved. However, as with promises made in any relationship, you need to do what you say you’ll do.
You need to carry out robust work upfront to fully quantify what can be achieved. Involve Finance in the process and get them to sign off on savings you’ve identified: getting their buy-in will help when the time comes to demonstrate these benefits are realised.
Once implementation starts, make sure you’ve got robust monitoring processes in place. You might also want to track benefits delivered on the way. There’s no better way to retain the CEO’s backing than being able to produce evidence that your promises aren’t being broken.
4. Focus on good times, not bad
As with any tech implementation, there are likely to be challenges along the way. And you don’t want talk of bad times to reach the ears of your CEO.
Perhaps one of your teams needs to work in a new way. Maybe the functionality isn’t quite what you recalled from the demo. It’s important that you actively manage these opportunities for improvement and change rather than leaving them as opportunities for negative comment and discontent.
On a global implementation for a US-based Fortune 500 client, we ran into some very heavy resistance from the Project Champion and his direct reports. Every idea, potential solution and decision was met with a litany of questions and the suggestion that our solution just couldn’t be rolled out.
Not only was the timeline in jeopardy but the team was dysfunctional and riddled with a lack of trust and response. Fortunately for the team, that negativity didn’t filter up to the CEO, or the project would have been doomed to failure right from the start.
By focusing on local solutions, we managed to change the direction of that project. We focused on meetings and briefings that were face-to-face. Getting in front of detractors and people with concerns was one of the most effective ways to reduce resistance and concerns. Within a couple of months, a positive attitude towards the project was achieved and progress was back on track.
And as making any implementation is all about people, how about adding a bit of pizazz to your implementation by using a collaboration app? It maps and tracks where your stakeholders are at. With graphs and charts at your fingertips, there’s no better way to bring the project to life and demonstrate the buy-in from your people when you present it to the CEO and the Board.
Using a continuous improvement approach, you can make sure that any challenges are addressed. This way, the only noise your CEO hears is the sweet sound of success.
If your tech implementation is effectively delivered, it won’t be difficult for your CEO to fall in love. Great timing, promises kept, an attractive business case and a focus on good times – not bad – will make your tech solution just impossible to resist.
Did you know that Matt has just teamed up with Procurious to launch ‘Major Tech Fails’ – a series looking at everything from implementations to getting buy-in. Register here