If you have problems to convince management about your ideas to improve IT in your organization, you'll find some valuable tips in this article.
You learn about a new IT product, or how better to deploy an existing technology and you can envision these taking shape in your environment, but then, a subtle wave of pessimism sets in. Management often fails to grasp the value of technology. In my view, it’s not their responsibility, rather, it’s yours to help show them the value of a particular IT solution for your company. This can seem like an uphill battle but it’s one worth fighting for.
Technology for most businesses is an expense that hurts the bottom line. Expenses are meant to be reduced to a bare minimum and that’s how most of them are looked at and managed. Some of you reading this can readily recall occasions past and perhaps present where a good idea that may require an investment of time and money is dismissed. It’s discouraging and can sap the enthusiasm we have for technology and how it can improve the business. To avoid this, you have to follow a few rules. But let me give you an example first.
About 5 years ago, I was eyeing the ticketing system used internally. It was [m3] maintained by a senior developer who had been with the firm for over a decade. I knew that much of the information gathered was of little value and it took more than 30-minutes to get a ticket created and properly linked to products and customer records. It was painful to use and terribly inefficient.
I evaluated the ticketing system from a user’s and business perspective and not just from an IT pro’s point of view. This helped to focus on what kind of information was really necessary. I mapped out the fields and input required and sorted them by must-have info and unnecessary info. In a detailed e-mail, I sent off to the president and senior developer, along with the other technical staff, explaining in plain English what I wanted to change and why. Most importantly, I outlined in detail, the time it took using the existing system and contrasted it to how my revisions would cut that time in more than half and get better information.
I didn’t know exactly how much time it would take to make the modifications, but, I did quantify in detail (detail is the key!) what the benefit would be. The president took the bait and about a week later, the revisions were made and the company was able to cut down the time it took to record a ticket in half. That left time for all the technical staff to do more important and productive tasks.
I would like to give you five tips when trying to persuade management about a new investment in IT:
- Don’t take this task lighthearted and take your time to develop your strategy.
- Explain the new technology or tool in plain English and don’t boast with your technical knowledge.
- Describe the benefits for your organization in detail and try to quantify them.
- Be patient and give management enough time to evaluate your thoughts.
- Don’t be self-opinionated and accept good counterarguments.
While not all the ideas will survive management’s scrutiny, it is much more likely that you will be taken seriously if you talk in business language and not in geek speak. You need to think like a manager not like an IT pro when you want to persuade management about your ideas.
How do you persuade management about your ideas? Please tell me about your experiences and leave a comment.
Chris Rich, is Senior Director of Product Management at NetWrix, a provider of solutions for change auditing and compliance.