Ever built a successful business case for a software platform? Then you know the feeling of elation that comes after you’ve received that official purchase approval.
You also know that once the euphoria wears off, the real work of justifying your purchase begins. That’s because achieving the ultimate value from a solution isn’t always a feat that’s realized within the first year of usage.
Even the most affordable, desperately needed software will have to prove itself to your decision-makers and fellow employees — not just once, but many times when renewals come due. You’ll need to keep “selling” the software to your superiors and colleagues so they maintain a good perception of it and trust you with future decisions.
How can you help justify purchases on critical software? Here are five ways.
1. Trace everything back to your internal needs analysis.
There’s an old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Perhaps the modern equivalent is, “Nobody ever got fired for implementing a solution that did exactly what it was supposed to do.”
Before you began evaluating software, you and your colleagues no doubt performed an internal needs analysis that identified the top priorities and anticipated areas of benefit for your new solution. You’d be surprised at how often evaluation teams forget all about this analysis once they’ve gone live.
So, take the time to recall the main things this solution was supposed to be doing for your organization (Improving efficiency? Streamlining communication? Reducing errors?), and then measure how well it is actually doing these things.
2. Don’t ignore the soft benefits.
Executives like to see that a $50,000 piece of software paid for itself within one year and continues to deliver savings of $10,000 per year. But don’t overlook opportunities to report on all the “softer” ways the solution is improving life at your company.
For example, if the software enabled you to streamline a process from five steps to two, you may not always be able to measure the exact time savings, tie that to someone’s salary and come up with monthly or yearly cost savings. But anyone can appreciate shaving steps from a process.
Of course, sometimes the benefits are even softer. An employee may tell you, for example, that the review process is now “much easier, and even kinda fun.” You can’t say with certainty that the process is reducing turnover by X percent each year, resulting in hard-dollar savings. But it’s intuitive that people will be less likely to leave jobs in which boring or cumbersome transactions are made as painless as possible.
3. Meet with resistance head-on.
It’s all too easy to hear negative chatter, shrug, and say “Haters gonna hate.” But in this case, haters are also going to speak ill of your solution to their peers and superiors. And sour grapes from a few disgruntled employees can drag down everyone’s perception of a software platform.
So, meet with the haters. Ask them to explain their concerns about the new system. Perhaps they simply need more training to make better use of its features. Or maybe they have legitimate concerns about navigation or functionality that could be addressed through customizations.
4. Keep communicating with end users.
Make sure your new software remains a “big deal” long after end user training and the initial go-live date. Even if your launch was a success, you’ll need to encourage employees to keep using the new platform rather than reverting back to their older, less efficient ways of doing things.
Make sure the communication is a two-way effort. Rather than simply blasting employees with emails reminding them about how great the new software is, consider giving them an intranet page or social media group in which they can share tips, ask questions and even vent frustrations.
5. Own the negatives.
This one is counterintuitive, but it’s important. There’s no such thing as flawless software, nor even software that’s a perfect fit for any one organization. Your new software has some shortcomings, doesn’t it? Or at the very least, hasn’t it underwhelmed in at least one benefit area?
Give your decision-makers an honest assessment in these areas. When you admit that things aren’t perfect on your new platform, you’ll paint a much more realistic picture of what’s actually going on — and your executives will be more likely to believe you when you gush about the benefits.