Every IT manager understands the struggle of trying to pitch new technology investments into their leadership team. They’re often greeted with scepticism and budgetary constraints and may struggle to communicate the true business value of a new piece of technology.
This isn’t a new challenge – photocopying was invented in the 1930s but it wasn’t until 30 years later that it became ubiquitous, after being turned down by major corporations such as IBM and Kodak. It required time to explain to a corporate culture accustomed to carbon copies that a machine could do it more efficiently, offer significant ROI, save significant costs and vastly improve productivity.
While this is a useful illustration, the narrative of new technology for businesses often focuses on the technologies themselves rather than the processes for getting buy-in for adoption. Whether introducing a copier, a computer or a camera, IT managers have always hadto first prove the value of the new technology for their business on a conceptual level. This is still the case that they have to vouch for its value; the diversity and complexity of modern business technology requires thoughtful planning to do this.
Get your own team on board first
To do this effectively, the first step for any IT manager should be to ensure everyone on the irteam understands the need for new technology solutions, how those solutions work and how they can improve productivity and enhance work flow. A manager might be the tech go-getter on the irteam but having the full team in support can make the case to management much more compelling. It’s important to take the time to explain the systems and proposed benefits first, which also serves as a useful preparation exercise ahead of the actual pitch to management.
Prepare your pitch for management
Introducing new technologies is less an exercise in sales than in marketing. In a nutshell, a sale is a “one and done,” while taking a marketing approach positions the vendor (the IT team) and the customer (the management suite) as a collaborative team that needs each other to succeed. Any new technology for the business isn’t just a singular proposition — it’s a process that needs lots of stakeholderson board to ensure everyone benefits. This is a great time to make the move: according to Gartner, IT budgets this year are expected to continue rising.
It’s not enough to know everything there is to know about a particular technology – it’s also important to be conscious of what a leadership team might not be aware of. Anticipating questions ahead of time enables an IT manager to take the lead in answering potential questions proactively in the pitch and in any follow-up conversations. A useful way to rhetorically position new technology for the business is to highlight its similarity to more familiar tech platforms, to give those who are less tech-savvy a useful reference point. For example, if you’re contemplating moving office data to a cloud based storage solution, the chances are everyone in the corporate suite has been doing exactly that on their smartphones.
Know the numbers
Be prepared to show the maths when it comes to validating the cost effectiveness of any new technology and its ROI. In fact, consider calculating the ROI at least twice – once for the expected outcome and once for the worst-case scenario. While no one wants to present (or hear) a potential worst-case outcome, doing so offers two subliminal advantages: it reassures the listener that a lot of background research has gone into the proposal, and by comparison, a positive scenario may look much more attractive.
Find management heroes
Upper management teams might seem bureaucratic, but they’re made up of individuals, and one or more of them might resonate with the kind of technology the IT team is advocating for. For example, a CTO or CIO would be the ideal bridge between the two teams, particularly if they rose through the tech ranks to that position.
Once there’s the initial green light from management for new technology implementation, it’ll make that road a lot smoother if they want to see it succeed. That means engaging leadership throughout the implementation and integration process. Regular project reports that document timelines, budgets and other key information are critical to bringing and keeping management on the journey.
Include training options
Everyone takes on knowledge and skillsat different rates and in different manners, whether they’re auditory, visual or kinaesthetic learners. Implementation and training take time and intentionality. Prepare to tailor training sessions to all types by providing a range of instructional materials and options such as documents, live training and videos.
Perhaps the biggest challenge IT managers face when introducing new platforms is the uncertainty or concern around implementation and whether it could disrupt work. They’veidentified new technology you believe will improve company productivity. They’vebrought in your team, prepared a great pitch, are ready with answers tothe technical and economic questions and have a training programme ready to roll. But how do theyassure top management that this project is going to run smoothly and successfully? No one can predict the future, but they can look to the past for guidance.Following these strategies can help cover all the bases and provide the best chance of success in the internal pitching process.