Building the Business Case (Part 4) – Gaining Alignment

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In the previous installments of this series, we covered three key drivers for building your business case: Risk Management, Cost Reduction, and Revenue Growth.

Now, we’ll review the importance of and the process for gaining organizational alignment with your strategy.

When you’re building support for your business case, it’s critical to gain alignment at all levels of the organization throughout the whole process. Making the case for an information management strategy cannot rest with only one executive. And it can’t be the brainchild of IT only, or lack executive sponsorship altogether.

You need as many areas aligned as possible. More than likely, a comprehensive information management strategy needs to consider all of the data streams across the enterprise (at some point), and will therefore be fairly time and resource intensive.

If you take a three-pronged approach to gaining alignment, then you’re well on your way to obtaining approval to implement your strategy:

(1) Get front-line employees and customers to identify the problems with the data. You should have been gathering their feedback and facts as you built your case. So when you can readily articulate that customers are frustrated with your company, or that your employees are performing workarounds, rework, or aren’t as effective as they could be, then you’ve got your “first-level buy in”.

(2) You need their individual management teams to agree that these issues exist. They need to agree that they’d be more effective in achieving their goals if they had a solution to their information problems. And most importantly, if you can get them to agree that an information management strategy should be a priority and they support the contents of the business case (which shouldn’t be too difficult if you had their support during the development of the business case), then these folks become your best allies.

(3) Have those management teams bring this message forward to their leadership. When the leaders hear, directly from their own people, that they should understand and support the business case, then your business case has achieved a level of credibility you wouldn’t have gained on your own. And your role then becomes one of subject matter expert, business case developer, and valued business partner.

I do recommend getting several executives aligned to the strategy. Because of the size of the undertaking, you’ll need several leaders to prioritize and support the effort. Providing headcount, funding and the time to deliver on the plan will be crucial from these leaders.

Once again, the more compelling your business case (whether it’s to comply with regulations, reduce costs or improve revenues), the more chance you’ll have in gaining attention and alignment.

Which brings us to the final point: set up your program so that small wins are achieved throughout.

Whether you need to set up prototypes, pilots, or small projects while you are driving the entire strategy over time (probably several years), you need to prove results. Otherwise, no matter how great your plan, the organization will lose interest along the way.

So, if you set expectations appropriately, have a good measurement plan in place, and keep communicating constantly with all levels of the organization, then you’ve got a great chance of succeeding!

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