If you’re in IT, you’re probably keenly aware of how certain software applications – like issue tracking or workflow management - can help you do your job better. But when it comes to getting the rest of the organization on board with the same package, it may be more of a stretch. If you’ve tried and used a great application, and want to make a business case for spreading it more broadly throughout your organization, how do you make the case?
It’s all too easy for other departments to brush off your recommendations. The objections tend to fall into three categories. The first is time: few people are excited about spending precious hours in introducing a new software package to their lives. The second is conflicting priorities: in the competition for budget, issue tracking may lose out to items that appear to be more urgent. The third, and biggest, is lack of understanding: both at the executive and departmental levels, people tend to know what’s not working, but not much about the technology that can be applied to fix the problems.
In the case of issue tracking, the latter is particularly true. It’s an application that can be applied cross-organizationally, but often isn’t. That’s because it’s assumed to be relevant only to customer support or IT help desk. But with little or no customizing, issue tracking software can make incredible contributions in all departments from HR to facilities management to regulatory compliance. The problem is, how best to make the business case to those who aren’t in the know. Shouting ‘It’s brilliant!’ from the rooftops is not enough.
Seven Steps to Achieve Your Goal
Here are what we believe to be the seven key elements of helping other people understand why your recommendation is worth considering.
- Do some research
Have other departments or executives tried anything similar in the past? If so, what went wrong? Is the company under any other stress at the moment – like an acquisition, a revenue crunch, or a big product launch – that means you’re unlikely to get a hearing?
- Know the players
Who do you need to convince? Who are the key stakeholders in each department and what are their hot buttons? For example, Legal is concerned about contracts, risk and compliance, Finance about revenues and reporting, Sales about leads and fulfillment. How would your software make their lives better?
- Get a sidekick (or two)
Think about recruiting some supporters to add their voices to yours – at all-hands or departmental meetings, perhaps.
- Collect data
Arm yourself with as much information as you can about ROI, ease of use, time to implementation and other key benefits. These will vary by organization, but a successful issue tracking implementation typically makes for faster problem resolution, higher customer satisfaction levels, fewer manual processes and more effective use of resources. Dollars speak for themselves – focus on hard and soft savings. Don’t forget to factor in the time freed up to focus on important strategic initiatives.
- Be articulate
Practice stating your case in a few sentences. A short statement is much easier for people to remember than a long and detailed technical discussion. Anticipate likely objections, rehearse your counter-arguments, and use statistics to support your case.
- Take time to build consensus
Try to understand key stakeholders’ concerns, priorities and objections. Ask questions and pay attention to the responses. Some of their objections might be valid, so don’t be afraid to compromise. Suggest implementing a pilot program instead of a full scale deployment. If a specific feature is requested, see if the software vendor is able to work with you to create something for your organization.
- Be persistent
This doesn’t mean nagging or grandstanding, of course. But if you believe in the power of a piece of software, don’t let sharing it with your colleagues slip from your list of priorities.
Issue tracking applications have been proven over and over again to deliver transformational results, both in single departments and cross-organizationally. This short list of steps will help you make the case for getting more people on board with the benefits.