Continuation of last week’s post
Identify potential advocates and the Ultimate Decision Maker (UDM)
When you look around your organization, do you know who will be the UDM to approve your project? If it isn’t clear, you will have to start asking others. There may be an assigned UDM, but there are plenty of people who are influencers. These people can become great advocates for your project to get approval.
Just as in any Game of Thrones episode, you will need to build relationships with people to insure your project is approved and successfully implemented. You will need to include those who are part of the approval process as well as those who are not. There are more people who have leverage with the UDM than might appear at first. It could be the UDM’s assistant or another colleague a level above her or him.
Understand who are the key influencers and get their buy-in by directly asking for it. Getting a verbal or written commitment is powerful for you but for also helps sustain their commitment when the UDM discusses your project with them.
When you are talking with influencers, ask them questions about the problem you are trying to solve. Get them to go along with your solution or to think up an even better one. Getting the influencers, or even the UDM to take ownership of the solution will make it much easier to get the project approved and executed.
When evaluating your organization and outside stakeholders, such as vendors, determine who will be outward supporters, adamant dissenters, and who will sit on the fence. The people with strong views will be easy to determine. The fence-sitters will be the ones you want to spend your time with. You won’t need to get everyone to go along with you, but make sure you work on the decision makers and the people who will help implement your project. Getting the stakeholders on the same page with your vision will make the project easier to run later.
Extoll the virtues of your project in your audience’s language. One of the more difficult aspects of selling up is the fear of going around your manager. Make sure the stakeholders understand their role and, more important, how they will benefit from your project.
You will need to be prepared to present your project, supported by measurements, in a formal meeting. A communication plan should be part of it so that the UDM, stakeholders, and influencers know there will be regular updates about the project, its achievements, and its successes in meeting its goals. Your communications will provide an opportunity to highlight areas of concern and get help when you need it.
Selling your project takes significant time and can even take up more time than creating the plan in the first place. Getting your colleagues to buy in to your project is usually the biggest challenge. Making it clear how they will benefit, and incorporating their ideas into the plan, will vastly improve your project’s chances of success.