Editor's Note: Welcome to SmartAdvice, a weekly column by The Advisory Council (TAC), an advisory service firm. The feature answers two questions of core interest to you, ranging from leadership advice to enterprise strategies to how to deal with vendors. Submit questions directly to [email protected]
Question A: We know that we could save money by consolidating servers currently scattered across business units. How should we address the political issues around getting the business units to give up their servers?
Our advice: One should approach this initiative with caution and practicality, and do a thorough analysis before implementation.
Some organizations are so dysfunctional that almost nothing works. I have come across organizations where employees showed up not to make progress but to block it. Past results are a clear indication of future performance. If the organization has a legacy of failed projects, there's need for analysis of the root causes, and for addressing them prior to any major initiative.
Barring these extremes, most organizational politics can be addressed through logic and negotiations.
The key to politics is in understanding the landscape and the players. Get a clear understanding of the history and dynamics of the organization. Also understand the personal agendas, motivations, and hot buttons of the players.
Start by getting executive sponsorship, preferably on the business side. Using the sponsor's help, approach other key executives to identify the team. This ensures that key players are engaged and supportive.
The first task of this team is to create a project charter that clearly lays out the vision, objective, scope, assumptions, approach, plan, and participants.
Get everyone--sponsor, executives, and the team--to sign off on this charter.
The team then prepares a business case that clearly articulates ROI. This business case is the basis of addressing the logical concerns of the key stakeholders:
Be prepared for a discussion on the following:
Now you're ready for negotiations.
Remember, negotiations are a give and take process. Before you expect "them" to understand you, ask yourself, "do I understand them?"
Executives may oppose this initiative for two primary reasons:
The former is addressed through the business case.
The latter requires more work. Executives, like generals, do not concede territory. It cannot be taken by force, either. Hence, one has to try a combination of tactics.
This political battle hasn't ended with the "go ahead" decision. The "go ahead" may be a strategic retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. They might wait to subvert the implementation and still achieve their objectives. For you, failure here will end the project and leave you damaged for future adventures. Hence, careful planning can and usually does save the day:
The good news: Finding full value is mostly about management education and commitment, factors well within your control.
Sourabh Hajela, TAC Expert, has more than 15 years of experience in strategy, planning, and delivery of IT capability to maximize shareholder value for corporations in major industries across North America, Europe, and Asia. He is a member of the faculty at the University of Phoenix, where he teaches courses in strategy, marketing, E-business, and leadership. Most recently, he was VP and the head of E-business with Prudential Financial.
Jack Keen, TAC Expert, is a global authority on pragmatic ROI methods, providing tools, workshops, and consulting to clients worldwide. He is co-author of the top selling book Making Technology Investments Profitable: ROI Road Map to Better Business Cases, and co-founder of The Deciding Factor Inc., a ROI consulting firm.