When the body was first created, all the parts wanted to be the boss. The brain said, “I should be the boss because I control all the body parts.” The feet said, “We should be the boss because only we can lead you to your goals.” The hands said, “We should be the boss because we do all the work.” We all know how this joke ends. But jokes apart, not all bosses are bad and many are receptive to new ideas and suggestions, sure it is not as easy as it sounds but if you have a genuine request or a suggestion, you have a shot at convincing your boss using the following strategy.
1. Define The Problem
When asked to invest in tools or any resources, many companies are skeptical and there is a good reason behind it. Around half a decade back, many companies invested in expensive software solutions such as ERP (Hint: SAP) and wasted hundreds of millions in training, implementation, missed opportunities, and of course the original investment. That is why you have to understand and outline the issues you’re facing and back your suggestion with as many statistics, research, and studies as possible. That said, don’t spoil your case by embellishing facts and exaggerating issues.
2. Present A Solution
There’s a greater chance of your suggestion being welcomed if you have a problem-solution approach. If you are not providing a solution, your case is at a risk of coming across as an outburst or rant. For instance, if your work is suffering because of lack of collaboration, then present the solution in the form a project management tool. Show how it can improve communication and collaboration within your company, support your argument with statistics and charts from reputable sources. See how this McKinsey report shows how much time is wasted in writing emails, searching for information, and internal collaboration. But it also shows how collaboration tools can lead to improvement in productivity.
3. Weigh Pros and Cons of Each Tool
Make your boss’ life easier by discussing the merits and demerits of your solution. Also discuss how each tool weighs against the other. Mind you, not all solutions are equally suited to your company’s requirement. For instance, if you need an enterprise-level project management tool that provides sophisticated resources for planning, management, and collaboration, WorkZone could be a good solution. But if you have a smaller team, you need to find a tool like Asana, a simple task management alternative for a team of 4 or 5. So choose your tools carefully after weighing the pros and cons.
4. Find A Specialized Alternative
If your power doesn’t stretch beyond your particular department or team, you would be better off with a specialized tool. If you are looking to collaborate over a particular task, say for example, social media planning, you can refer a tool like Sendible that takes care of planning, publishing, analytics, and collaboration between management, team members and clients, but everything is related to social media, so only social media department would be affected by this change. This is the high tech era and we have specialized tools for email marketing, social media, project planning, HR, and every conceivable function within a company. If your boss is afraid of implementation and changes across the company, which is quite reasonable, you can suggest a specialized alternative that concerns only one department, function, or branch.
5. Show How Solutions Are Aligned to Goals
Once you have nailed the perfect solution, it is time to show how the solution will help advance company goals. You need to persuade your boss or manager that your suggestion is not only aligned with company strategy but also prove that it can help them reach their goals faster. One way to do it would be to gather data and show how the solution could get the company x% closer to the goal. This is a lengthy process and involves numbers, so make sure you are really good at analytics (more about this in the next point). Another simpler way would be to show proof of concept. Most SaaS and software solutions provider offer a free 30-days trial, so you can run a proof of concept on a small project, present the benefits and outline how beneficial the solution would be if implemented for a larger project or on a large scale.
6. Do A Cost-Benefit Analysis
Let’s be honest, we all know everyone is here to make money. Instead of pointing out fluffy benefits like better employee morale or innovation, show ‘em the money! Here’s a sample cost-benefit analysis report for an automated invoicing system. As you can see costs include direct and indirect costs, while include all direct and indirect revenues including intangible benefits (e.g. increased productivity, increased customer goodwill). Make sure you think of all the costs and benefits before you present your case to the boss.
7. Get Team Members Onboard
If you know data and proofs just won’t cut it but you still want your voice to be heard – get more people onboard. Sometimes it is harder to convince employees than to convince the boss. If you can convince other team members, supervisors, or managers, they can help take your case forward. Also team play means you get more ideas and motivation to support your proposal. Just make sure you don’t fall prey to office politics.
Wrapping it up
There could be many reasons your boss may not be ready to invest in tool / tools. The responsibility lies on you to understand the real, underlying fears why he or she is not ready and them work around those fears, rational or otherwise. You need to impress upon your boss that we live in times where technology changes faster than the blink of an eye and as Henri Bergson once said, “a man’s superiority lies in his power to build and improvise on himself and his things.”