Whenever I read an article or a blog that talks about getting an IT solution into a company, one of the very first points is "Get Management Buy-In". It then quickly moves on to points 2 through 6 or 10 or whatever. The deeper into the proposed process you get the more instructive the advice usually becomes.All of the other points are great, except they are useless unless you get management buy-in...and management buy-in is most often the hardest thing to get. How does one go about getting 'management buy-in'? What strategy should someone use?So I thought I would address the issue of management buy-in, especially as it relates to global trade management (GTM) and trade compliance. (I am not going to focus on the benefits that automating GTM or trade compliance delivers as there are many articles and blogs written on these area, such as here and here.)Depending on your organization, there are usually several layers of management that GTM or trade compliance needs to get on board in order to get automation (more than spreadsheets) into their area. Here are 7 practical steps that you can follow to get management buy-in:
- Understand the value proposition that automation brings to both your department, and the greater organization. Be clear, make sure it is grounded in reality, and be able to articulate it clearly. Most importantly, write it down so that you are able to present it concisely.
- Understand the current capabilities (and limitations) of your current enterprise systems to deliver what you need. Engage IT. It is important to understand if the current enterprise, accounting or purchasing solutions have the functionality you need. If you are a large organization that runs a major ERP solution (SAP, Oracle, QAD, or others) you need to make sure that the available enterprise system won't deliver what you need. If this is the case, you will need to convince the IT group that the current solutions lack the capabilities or functionality that you or your team needs. The budget is a whole other issue.
- Do a review of the various trade compliance solutions available and match your requirements to the offerings of the solution provider(s). As is always the case when selecting an IT solution, know your current needs and think about what you would like to have in the future. Make sure that you are comfortable with the software providers and that they know how to relate with you and your trade compliance team.
- Get budgetary figures from the software vendors you believe meet your needs. There are many software providers in the GTM space and prices range broadly. But, there are some very reasonably priced options. You need to make sure that the cost of the GTM solution you are putting forward provides the appropriate ROI for your organization - otherwise, it will be shot down as you get further up your organizations management structure.
- Organize a demo of one or more of your short-listed solutions with your immediate supervisor. In a hands-on presentation you can point out what the solution will deliver to the department in terms of the value proposition you detailed in point 1, above. The clearer you are able to tie the solution to your value proposition, the better chance you have of getting your boss to support your requirment.
- Communicate with your manager to determine how best to support them as they seek budget for your project. Sometimes, the path is very clear and your manager needs little support. Other times, there might be a lot of selling work that needs to be done. You need to understand how best you can influence the process and ensure it is moving forward. That requires you to work closely with your manager to continually push the project. It isn't going to happen on its own.
- BONUS: There are other departments in your organization that might be allies in your quest. Teams such as: finance, legal, supply chain, etc.. If you are able to get any of these teams onside, your ability to sell into your organization is improved exponentially. Cultivate these relationships and your influence within your organization will grow.
These steps works. We have seen it done many times. One of the best interaction I have experienced is watching a logistics and trade compliance manager take on her CIO who was a serious skeptic. He came into the meeting convinced that the ERP could do what they needed through their enterprise solution and that it was only a matter of tweaking the solution. However, through a very assertive presentation of what was available in the market, the related cost and the low IT overhead - all presented very respectfully - she was able to convince him that the enterprise system could not effectively be extended to do what they required within a reasonable budget and with the limited IT resources available.It is not easy selling up the organization. It requires desire, passion and a willingness to fight for what you need. However, if you are able to lay out the path you may be surprised by what you can accomplish.If you would like to talk further about how to sell into the organization, give me a call at (416) 510 8800 ext 234.