6 Proven Strategies to Secure Executive Buy-In for Your Project


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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Executive buy-in is an essential early step to a successful digital transformation. Here are six things you can do to improve your chances of getting it.

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6 Proven Strategies to Secure Executive Buy-In for Your Project
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Running a digital transformation project brings many challenges. But in addition to the technical hurdles that must be overcome, you'll need to think about the people side of things. After all, they'll be the ones who are actually using whatever innovation you come up with, so you have to ensure they're enthusiastic about the project and understand what it's all about.

For example, will employees be resistant to any changes to the way they work? Will they even use the new tools? These are key questions that must not be overlooked. The majority of digital transformation failures can be traced back to poor change management, so it's important you make this a priority. And there's no better place to start this process than in the boardroom.

Why executive buy-in is a vital part of change management

Getting employees bought into a project is a critical component for success. And to do this, it's vital you start at the top. Having the company's most senior executives on board with the initiative is one of the best things you can do to instill confidence and boost your chances of success.

This is about much more than ensuring you've got the financial resources and other material support you need to complete the project. Having senior executives in your corner can help address many of the concerns that employees might have about your business.

If employees can see that executives are visibly supportive of your project, this makes everything run more smoothly. On a simple level, it can reduce outright opposition to the scheme, as people may be less willing to challenge an initiative that has high-profile backing. In turn, this can also make them more willing to give the new tools a chance and see for themselves what the benefits are.

6 strategies to get your executives invested

However, getting executives on board isn’t always easy. Like any other employee, the chances are they'll have questions and concerns that need to be addressed before coming on board. But the good news is that unlike many other employees, you can address these individuals directly, on a one-to-one basis, to bring them around.

With this in mind, here are a few tried and tested strategies you should be using when talking to executives to get them invested in your digital transformation project.

1. Understand their objectives

The first step will be to learn about their priorities for the business. Are they focused on driving revenue? Or is improving efficiency a top priority? Once you know that, you can identify what challenges or obstacles they're currently facing and explain in specific terms how the proposed solutions will help solve them.

2. Tailor your pitch to their focuses

Having this information lets you develop unique, tailored pitches to individual board members. This means not only addressing their primary focuses, but also showcasing to them how you'll measure performance and prove success. Pick out a few essential KPIs that matter to each person.

These won't be the same for everyone. For instance, some people will care more about the number of sales or marketing leads they expect to pick up, while others will be very cost focused. Know who you're talking to and prepare accordingly.

3. Make a solid business case

The goal of any digital transformation project should be to make a business more effective, whether this is in terms of how it deals with customers, the services it provides or improving internal processes. Therefore, any argument you make in favor of a project needs to address this in practical terms. For example, explain clearly how long it will take to see a return on investment, or what business risks will be mitigated by adopting a new technology.

4. Keep the conversation flowing

Getting executives engaged with a digital transformation project isn't a one-off effort. You need to be continually communicating with them throughout the process. This may mean regular updates on progress, or showcasing key milestones such as new releases or launches to highlight what the immediate benefits will be as well as the long-term advantages.

Learn moreDigital Transformation: 7 Tried and Tested Methods for Communicating Change

5. Be specific

If you're asking for resources, it's important to be specific about why they're needed and what you'll be using them for, especially when it comes to finance. Senior employees will need to be able to justify any spending decisions, so it's up to you to show them exactly what they're getting.

This also helps get straight to the heart of the matter. Executives are often time-poor and have multiple things to deal with at once, so anything you can do to focus their attention and support them will be much appreciated.

6. Know what speaks to them

Ultimately, however, you shouldn't overlook the fact that while senior executives have to rationalize their decision-making, they're just as likely to make choices based on emotion as anyone else. This means that if you know what they're passionate about and what speaks to them on a personal level, you'll be in a great position. Spreadsheets and budget projections alone will never be enough if you can't get executives to envisage how it will help shape the future of the company and see how your proposals match their own desires.

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