Information Technology tools are constantly changing and evolving, but one tool remains essential to the success of any technology project: stakeholder buy-in.

If your company isn’t on board with the technological changes you’re trying to implement, then the newest system, the most advanced software, and the best tech tools won’t help.

There’s a famous story about Edwards Deming, the pioneering 20th century management consultant whose industrial business concepts remain influential to this day. Deming’s methodologies were initially shunned in the U.S., so he took them to Japan where, beginning in the 1950s, he helped to revolutionize and revitalize the country’s Post-WWII economy. Following his success overseas, American automakers begged him to return to the U.S. and help improve their business structure. Deming agreed, but with one major condition—he had to be allowed to work directly with a company’s CEO. See Deming knew that to succeed he needed holistic buy-in, starting from the CEO and on down through the organization.

The SCRUM project management methodology we use at NBI for our technology projects is largely derived from Deming’s teachings, and we’ve seen time and again how right he was to place importance on stakeholder buy-in. Quite simply, it makes or breaks a project.

Encouraging stakeholder buy-in throughout your company isn’t always easy, so we recommend the following 3 tips to help get you started:

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  1. Identify your project’s product owner. A product owner is a staff member who serves as an “expert” go-between for your company and your technology consultant. He/she involves themselves in the entire project so they can then help teach others along the way. As Deming’s teachings suggest, projects work best when the product owner is a well-respected decision maker.  They also must be fully engaged. If your CEO or CTO will be out of the office for much of a project’s duration, you’re better served picking a product owner who’s readily available.
     
  2. Get feedback from frustrated stakeholders. It’s important to get feedback from multiple perspectives and multiple departments within your company, in order to devise solutions which will benefit your entire business. At the beginning of a project, we like to ask stakeholders, “who’s frustrated with your existing method, and why?” These employees are likely to benefit most from the improvements you’re trying to implement, and if you listen to and address their frustrations, they are more likely to buy-in to proposed change.
     
  3. Involve your technologists in day-to-day operations. A two-hour consulting meeting probably isn’t enough time for your technology consultant to get a firm grasp on your entire business process. Show them around, introduce them to your workforce, and let them interact during daily operations. The more they see your company in action, the better their understanding of the appropriate solutions to your issues. Just as important, is letting them interact with your workforce. This increases the likelihood that your employees will buy-in to the changes they propose.

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