Sell Good Ideas by Emphasizing Benefits that the User Perceives as Valuable

The starting point for an IT project is selling senior management within the user group and within the IT function on the idea. Consequently, the efficiency with which ideas are sold is one important means of managing priority pressure. The power of persuasion depends largely on whether the rationale used to support an idea resonates with the decision-maker's interests. To sell ideas more efficiently, the rationale for an idea must reflect the user's priorities. In short, reasoning should always outline "what is in it for them."

When selling ideas, IT professionals sometimes get stuck on technical issues, specifications, and justifications. Although technical details are critical, as facts, they have limited power to influence users and senior IT management. As a result, one of the main priority management prescriptions is that IT professionals need to develop sufficient business expertise to engage users in terms that they will find compelling. IT professionals who add this expertise to their technical competence have the greatest organizational impact. Many IT organizations are experimenting with the role of user or client relationship manager to help establish client sensitivity within IT organization.

Selling ideas effectively also means having good ideas. Good ideas are designed with knowledge of the practical time and resource constraints within which they will be implemented. Not all business problems require state-of-the-art solutions. Sometimes, small is beautiful. Making incremental enhancements over time can moderate the negative influence of organizational politics, limit risk, and create success experiences. A track record of successful enhancements can build momentum for bigger, more ambitious projects.

Having a good idea is not sufficient, however. Good ideas are often not met with enthusiasm. How the IT professional responds to the objections raised by others as the idea is being sold affects one's eventual success. Arthur Schopenhauer, the nineteenth-century philosopher said that ideas go "through three distinct phases: ridicule, opposition, and finally enthusiastic acceptance." Advancing ideas through these phases means (1) increasing perceived need for the idea, (2) modifying the idea itself to increase personal and organizational benefits to key stakeholders, (3) reducing costs, both personal and organizational, and (4) decreasing perceived risks. By adjusting good ideas iteratively based on feedback from stakeholders, IT professionals can efficiently win a critical mass of support for IT projects from key stakeholders.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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