Obtaining Management BuyIn

Developing a project could be compared to going to the prom. You go through all the motions of getting ready for your date, but until you get permission from Mom and Dad to go, you aren ' t going to get much of anywhere. The same is true of a project, only more so. Without support and approval from management, it ' l l be extremely difficult to get most projects underway and accomplished. In this final chapter section, we ' l l talk about some ways that you can obtain management buy-in.

Management involvement may be a difficult thing to obtain—especially with the busy state of today' s corporate environment. It' s tough to get any two high-level managers in a room, let alone several. It ' s also tough to get consensus from a group of managers on a methodology, project, system, dialog, or protocol. But there are techniques that you can use, and all entail the concept of ownership through direct involvement. If a manager feels that she has something to say about a project and that her involvement is critical to the successful outcome of the project, then half the battle is won.

You begin by getting management engaged in the project right at its onset. Set up a meeting with the managers who will probably have an involvement in the project. Share with them the project' s concept and its charter. Be prepared to make adjustments to the charter that are recommended by the management group and are sensible.

Note How do you deal with bad changes that are recommended by management? You can stand on the project charter' s nobility—state that the charter is well- founded and there' s little room for change at this juncture. Or maybe you simply ignore the recommendation and go on (if you can get away with this politically). Difficult managers present you with difficult ultimatums that often don 't make sense in context with where the project needs to go.

Additionally, it' s important to involve management in helping you define and approve the project' s scope. You' l l typically ask a single project sponsor for approval of the scope, though some gargantuan projects might require more than one signer. But in either case, sharing the development of a project ' s scope with other managers who start out with a small interest in the project will increase their buy-in to the project.

Managers should also be involved in a high-level review of the deliverables of the project, including results of user acceptance testing.

Finally, work hard toward the goal of making sure that managers are prepared to work as project advocates. Those who have a vested stake in the project are going to be more excited about being a project advocate than those who have a mere sidelong interest in its success. You may be inclined to promise managers who don' t have a direct involvement more than you can really deliver. Be a truth-teller, business-like and professional when explaining the goals of the project and what it ' s designed to accomplish. Don' t promise a deliverable you have no intention of delivering.

The bottom line is that you must somehow give management a voice in the decision-making process. You want managers who are your friends and allies in the project process. Managers need to function as spokespersons for the project and to somehow be integrated into the project ' s process.

You completed the Prestige Hotels scope document in the previous chapter, but this chapter has raised a few questions that you should think about as you go forward with the project.

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