Got Ideas? How to Get Management Buy-In

Sustainable growth doesn’t happen without innovation. For a business of any size to prosper over the long haul, change must be part of the mantra.

Of course leadership can talk about change until the bottom line turns red. Talking about it is the easy part. Driving change is what counts. The ability to drive change, and a willingness to let ideas flow from the bottom up, is what separates the innovators from the laggards.

We recently published the blog post, Want to Drive Change? Pick a Champion. Here’s how… to help those looking to drive change from the bottom up. Because most companies follow a hierarchal order, ideas are more likely to be acted upon if communication flows through traditional channels. And once you’ve identified the best “path to power,” the next step is making a case that gains buy-in from management.

Creating a convincing case for change

Step one is determining all the parties that need convincing. The last thing you want is to pour yourself into a project only to have it shot down because you failed to address the concerns of an important stakeholder. Work with your co-workers to make a compelling case. Then, work with your champion to ensure you’re addressing the needs and motivations of all stakeholders involved. For example:

  • How will the head of sales view the change? Will it assist revenue generation? Can the VP of sales sell the change to the sales team?
  • What will the head of operations think? Will the proposed change streamline operations? How much will workflow change? How much training is involved?
  • What level of involvement is needed from the head of IT? Are we talking about a complicated, lengthy implementation? What resources are needed and what is the estimated timeline?

And of course, all major decisions (at most companies, anyway) must get approval from the CFO

Speaking the CFO’s language

Asking probing questions is what CFOs do well. They’re not picking on you – It’s just part of the job description when you are the financial protector of the company.

Naturally, the CFO will want a complete picture of the upfront costs and the expected cost savings. This is where due diligence pays off. If the CFO feels there’s no evidence to back up the numbers (or a lack of effort was put into providing them), the business case will not receive serious consideration.

Risk is also a hot button among CFOs. How will the proposed change affect compliance? What are the short-term and long-term risks of making the proposed change? Flesh out all possible concerns your CFO may have. It’s okay to admit you don’t have all the answers. As long as the rest of your case is strong, your CFO can help you cover the remaining bases.

Driving change may seem a tad overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. Collaborate with your colleagues, focus on making others look good and work with your champion to bring a compelling, comprehensive case that achieves management buy-in. And once the change is implemented, you’ll be glad you did.

Have you been looking to change the way your company does expenses? Switching to expense management software is easier than you think. Learn how to get buy-in from your management stakeholders, along with how to answer the specific questions they may have. Check out our free guide, How to Secure Buy In for Smarter Expense Reporting.

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