“That’s how we’ve always done it.” Some of the most expensive words in any business.
Whether it be tools, processes or mentalities, tradition often becomes the scapegoat when faced with the possibility of new. Longstanding conventions seem like a brick wall, and it is easy to become blind to the possibility of change.
In the information era we live in, there is an abundance of knowledge, news, and resources available, yet it seems as though they are often overlooked until there is a critical need that compels us to notice. Proactivity is therefore critical: organizations should always strive to improve and refine processes, and as you become aware of a need for a process improvement or software enhancement, the next steps are vital. Yet, despite their importance, these next steps can certainly feel ominous, creating an uncertainty of what to do and how to begin. Tradition can seem like the easy way out.
As with most tasks, dealing with this uncertainty proves to be the hardest part. Fortunately, while each situation is unique, the general process itself can be broken down into a few, simple steps. So, where do you start?
- Conduct Research – You have identified issues, a bottleneck, or break in the system and feel as though there must be a viable solution. Utilize resources on the internet (whitepapers, blogs, webinars), use your networks to find out what other organizations and companies are doing (and finding success with), and look to analysts and reputable sites with reviews on technology (G2 Crowd, Salesforce AppExchange, Gartner). In the digital economy, knowledge is power, so get an understanding of what is out there and how it could fit into your ecosystem.
Pro Tip: Look at user-based reviews; after all, they are “you,” but at another company.
- Identify Stakeholders – As with most organizations, there are multiple people who have a hand in the pot and will want a say in the final decision. Talk to them. Find out their thoughts on the issue, what information they may already have on the subject, their potential loss from change, and identify what would make a switch worth the time it takes to transition. That being said, never underestimate the power of inertia; some colleagues may be content staying with what they have because it is “good enough.” To build momentum, you must understand when, how, and where to push first.
Pro Tip: Acknowledge the logic behind the existing state, be sympathetic if they chose the current workflow: start with empathy and facts.
- Explore Vendors – You have your pain points identified, research done, and an idea of who is involved. Now comes the time to begin speaking with potential candidates in your quest to transform your business. You’ve done your research up until this point, and chances are that you have become familiar with a few standout names of vendors who could fit the bill. Lucky for you, most (if not all) companies are willing to take the time to show you what they are capable of, and show you how they could potentially alleviate your challenges. Companies want your business, and your needs should matter to them. Each should be willing to be a resource to you and your team dependent upon your pace and needs.
Pro Tip: Take a look at a few of the platforms you are considering first, and then bring the identified stakeholders in for a next or further demonstration of the best couple.
- Decision Time – You have seen the two or three best options, with the key players in your company. Now it’s time for the major discussion. This is when a deep dive is crucial to understand who favors different vendors and why, and how the new tool will impact each party (if the positives outweigh the negatives). Ultimately, the goal here is to come to a unanimous decision on your vendor of choice.
Pro Tip: When looking at capabilities, also make sure you understand what the implementation and post-sale processes look like. Ask the questions that might not seem top-of-mind and product-related (rollout processes, timeframe to get up and running, involvement and track record of the services or customer success team, what happens when there is a question or issue, etc.)
So really, why does investing time and energy up front help with company-wide buy-in?
Because, as we have seen with so many companies and leaders that we have worked with, spending the time and energy up front has empowered them to have the meaningful conversations with other necessary parties to make the positive, informed, and sustainable impact their company needs.