When the need for project management software is first identified within an organization, it can seem such an obvious and compelling solution. Making the decision to engage and roll that software out, however, is rarely that simple. A range of stakeholders, influencers and decision makers need to be brought in and sold on how this software will revolutionise the business. Not only is this key in getting the software over the line initially but also for engagement across the business in its implementation and beyond.
So how do you sell project management software as essential to your C-suite without losing them in a sea of graphs, spreadsheets and charts?
1. Set the scene
Before jumping to the solution, it’s imperative everyone is on the same page and has a comprehensive understanding of what systems the business is currently using. At this stage we’re just looking at what is being used – present the facts not opinion! Run an audit of all current systems including:
- Quoting and project scoping process
- Invoicing process
- Holiday tracking, expenses
- Time tracking (both billable and non)
- Resource planning
- Project planning, tracking and review
- Issues tracking – also include tracking of financial impact of issues
- Business forecasting
It can be useful to cross reference these with resources involved in each (departments, dependencies and cross overs) and also time commitments in the business to show how far reaching each component can be. Consider the frequency of reporting on all processes. Also an example of a recent project or timeframe (e.g. previous 3 months) can really bring these systems to life and help the audience visualize what these processes look like in reality.
If you’re not currently tracking a business process then be sure to reference that.
2. Explain the business challenges
Now is the time to review and assess those current processes. Key questions to consider:
- What is working?
- What could be better?
- Where are the inefficiencies (whether that’s time, budget, resource, information or all)?
Identify the main pain points for your business – and why therefore you’re considering doing things differently. These could include:
- Insupportable level of non-billable hours
- Unprofitable projects due to over service, unanticipated expenses, underscoping…etc.
- Delayed project delivery
- Negative customer feedback
- Loss of market share
- Inaccurate financial reporting
- Rapid business growth (or plans for) – are old systems scalable…and still relevant?
This stage can also shine a light on a lack of transparency, reporting or access to data around some of the business processes – which in itself is a business challenge. How easy is the information to ascertain? Who in the business can see it and how frequently?
3. Showcase project management software as a solution
Now’s the exciting part: Paint the picture of how your business could be operating differently if a project management software was utilized. Start with:
- The functions your business needs
- Prioritise those functions – from essential through to nice-to-have
- Cross reference these against the software’s functionality
- Showcase improvements: Think tangibles – whether that’s $$, time, people
- Take it a step further: What could these improved efficiencies mean? Higher project profitability, larger resource capacity…etc.
At this point, you’re selling the idea of software, not necessarily one particular provider. However, get brownie points for showing you’ve looked into at least 3 solutions and the pros and cons of each. If there’s a stand out, now’s the time to talk to it.
4. Provide an alternative future
What if your business remained doing things exactly as they are? Where are the immediate pressure points? What would be the first thing to give? Whether it’s a cultural piece (staff frustration or turnover), delays in the sales cycle, project profitability or your business’ market position – what could it look like if nothing changes?
Consider looking at the wider industry here; what competitors are doing, where the market your business is operating in is heading. Will this software help your business remain relevant in a changing landscape? If so, how? Think about different project management methodologies you may be able to support with a new system, speed to market, cost efficiencies to name a few.
5. Showcase the ROI
Some financial metrics will be critical here! Let’s talk numbers. The impact of a project management software system could include:
- Improved resource utilization (= % increase in billable hours)
- Project delivery consistency (= % time saving scoping and implementation)
- Billing / quoting accuracy (= % increase in project profitability)
- Improved project close (= % increase resource, % increase positive CX, % increase in shared learnings)
- Higher customer satisfaction (= % increase in repeat business)
- Improved staff retention (=% decrease cost in recruitment, training)
- Project scalability (=% increase in project size)
- Reduced overheads (=% decrease in admin resource hours)
- Improved cashflow (=% increase speed in bill issuing, through automation and % decrease in payment times)
- Time to Value – what is time worth at your business?
- Total Cost of Ownership
There’s a range of compelling reasons a business may engage a project management software system. When building a business case, consider your C-suite audience. What are their key motivators, what’s the business’ focus now and moving forward and what is the strongest reason for engaging a system?
For audiences that might need a little more convincing, think about flipping the above points on their head – starting with the ROI. Hook them in with some powerful and commanding statistics right at the beginning and then work through what could lead to these stats (the software) and finish with the current business processes, audits and areas of concern. Think about what information you need to provide the audience with for them to gain a full understanding in order to make an informed, considered decision.
Once there’s buy-in from the key decision makers in the business, speak to the project management software business about undertaking a trial. This should include different departments in the business that will use the software once fully rolled-out. Set up a structure for constructive feedback (within the system!) and speak regularly during the trial with the software provider. A project management software solution should be viewed as a long term partnership, evolving its tools and functionality alongside your business needs.
Chat to the Aprika team today about building the strongest business case for your organization.