How to establish stakeholder buy-in.
5 tips to gaining stakeholder buy-in for any schools changing software systems.
Change is inevitable, especially in the technology space. New systems are being created, upgraded, reviewed constantly. Humans are hard-wired to resist change, so when you have decided that change is necessary for your organisation, how do you gain the buy-in of your stakeholders?
When implementing any new software system, it is important that all potential users are invested in its success. If individuals cannot see the benefit of the change, their resistance will increase exponentially. Identifying your high-risk staff members and gaining their trust and confidence could be as great an achievement as winning a Nobel Peace Prize.
Scott Shpak, in his article, How to Get a Stakeholder to Buy in on a Project, defines stakeholders as:
A stakeholder is any person or group that affects or is affected by, a particular project. Along the path to completing your project, stakeholders can be partners, resources or roadblocks — and potentially all three rolled into one.
Shpak, S. (2013, May). How To Get A Stakeholder To Buy In On A Project. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/stakeholder-buy-project-51429.html.
Stakeholder buy-in is the cooperation or positive participation of a stakeholder and is essential for the success of any technology implementation project.
A great way to encourage buy-in, particularly when individuals have not been included in the selection process, is to create working groups tasked with setting up pertinent areas of the system. There are always sections of IT systems that will be used by various staff groups and creating teams across departments will result in each section being useful to all staff.
Increasing utilisation and investment in the system will encourage colleagues to get onboard. Tasking admin/IT staff with all initial set-up will create further barriers to the technology use and create reliance on key individuals. Including staff members from the outset may be difficult and met with resistance but ultimately will mean that the new system will be embraced and runs in a way that will benefit all areas of the organisation.
Spreading out the system creation and implementation with SMART targets will increase usage from the start. By having working groups, you encourage trust and understanding of the purpose and usefulness of the tech and strengthen cross-discipline ties. Thereby increasing workforce compatibility and support structures.
Here are 5 tips for gaining stakeholder buy-in:
1 – Inclusivity – Including your stakeholders in the process from the beginning, right from the evaluation stage wherever possible, will increase individual investment in the successful implementation of any chosen systems. It is natural for people to react negatively to something from which that have been excluded. Clear communications – Using language understood by all involved, no jargon or acronyms. Understand the needs of all individuals and end-users – especially if you only have a small workforce. The needs at the executive level are most likely vastly different to the end-users.
2 – Early engagement – the earlier you engage with your stakeholders, the earlier you can be sure you are meeting their needs. It can also begin the mental preparation required for the change and mitigate the fear of what is to come.
3 – Explanation and clear foundation for the project – people are more likely to be willing participants if they understand the reasons for the change. Details – communicate the benefits that a new system will offer. Explain the benefits to the individuals, short and long term, so that they can see that there is a purpose and rationale behind the decision to make this change.
4 – Hear your workforce – Listen to your teams, communicate clearly. Taking time to seek opinions from individuals will enable your staff to see that they and their opinions are valued. Providing feedback based on these opinions will create trust and understanding and keep you all connected throughout the process.
5 – Communicate, communicate, communicate – the most essential element to success is communication. Stakeholders that feel communicated with and involved will be invested and feel included, thereby being less resistant to the change.