Selling an IT Vision: How to Make Sure Your Boss Sees the Same Value That You Do
Whatever your job is, I’m sure your overarching goal is to improve your organization. For some people that means driving revenue by making sales; for others, it’s implementing technology that solves a problem, creates efficiencies, or saves time.
For those of you who fit into this second category, it’s likely that you’ve had a great idea or two in your time. And, hopefully, you’ve brought these ideas to your boss or leadership. If you executed everything properly, they saw the same value that you did, and together you charted a path to move forward.
But that’s not always how this scenario plays out.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of amazing ideas that never make it past a proposal. At Tallan, we recognize the importance of seeing these ideas through to execution and implementation proving that they truly do provide the value you’re proposing. At the end of the day, that’s what we do: we solve business problems – digital technology just so happens to be the medium we use to accomplish this.
Let’s take a look at the different stages of selling your vision:
Stage 1: Preparation
You have your idea – now you need to make sure you’re prepared to present it. There are a few key things to understand in Stage 1:
- What is the business value of your idea? It needs to solve a problem your boss (or your boss’s boss) cares about. You need to define this problem clearly, and you should be prepared to prove this business value with data. If possible, gather data in the context of the problem you’re solving.
- How much time/money/resources will it take to implement your idea? This can be tricky, especially when your idea requires a custom solution. If you don’t have the information needed to make a determination here, it will be especially important to have data illustrating the problem behind your proposition. This is one of our specialties: we excel at gathering this data and, more importantly, defining expectations for a return on investment.
- Understand your audience’s goals and principles. You will be much more likely to succeed if your proposal aligns with your boss’s views, your department’s goals, or your executive leaderships’ priorities. If your audience has demonstrated more protective practices in the past (reluctance to take risks in order to prevent losses) they will be harder to convince than if they showed innovative tendencies (openness to risks for the purpose of making advances). Make sure to tailor your message accordingly.
Stage 2: Proposal
At this point, you’re prepared. You’ve done your research and you have a reasonable expectation of how your leadership may react. Here’s how you should take on your proposal:
- Get other people involved. This can go in multiple directions. In many cases, you’ll want to run your vision by colleagues on your level inside and outside of your department. Other situations may call for outside help. This article in the Harvard Business Review tells a story of an engineering manager who brought in an outside expert in order to lend extra credibility to their vision. While this option may be difficult to organize (and it may not always fit your presentation), it can provide the extra boost you need to convince your leadership.
- Stay positive. In this scenario, we’re talking about positivity in the context of how you present your ideas (though a positive mindset is important as well). Focus on the benefits that your vision entails. The only time you should focus on negatives or threats is when discussing the problem you’re solving in its current state – as in, what negative impacts are currently being seen.
- Give your data context. You know this already from Stage 1, but it’s worth stating here as well: present data that illustrates the severity of the problem you’re addressing, as well as data that shows the effects of the solution you’re now proposing.
- Understand how these processes work at your organization. Some organizations may have set-in-stone processes, requiring written proposals and conference room presentations. At others, it might be appropriate to set up a 20-minute one-on-one with your boss where you can share a back and forth conversation. Make sure you know where your organization or department stands.
- Prepare for questions. This should take place during the preparation stage as well, but you need to understand what your leadership may ask about during your proposal. Having information ready for them will make it easier to effectively resolve the concerns that triggered their questions in the first place.
Stage 3: Implementation
You’ve succeeded in your proposal (we believed in you the whole time, of course 😊), but the battle doesn’t end here. Now it’s time to implement your vision and prove that the value you helped everyone see is real.
Some of your organizations have the resources you’ll need internally – others of you will have to find these resources externally. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few key characteristics to look for in a strategic partner:
- A track record of success. This goes without saying – you would never want an incompetent vendor. Make sure any potential partners have a history succeeding in projects of the size and scope you’re exploring.
- Use cases. This ties into the previous point: it’s beneficial to you (and often times your vendor as well) if your vendor has experience in your industry, experience with this type of project, or both.
- Understanding of the business-side of your vision. Partnering with a vendor whose leadership and consultants have no business background or knowledge is a sure-fire way to limit your success – no matter how technologically savvy they are. At Tallan, for example, our leadership team combines experience working directly with technology with business problem-solving acumen that come only through years of experience on both ends of the spectrum.
Whether you need help getting your boss on board with your idea, or you need assistance executing and implementing your successful proposal, let us know – we find success in helping you find it first.