Gaining buy-in and alignment on technology projects

Global competition is growing while operating environments are getting more complex. IT leaders are now responsible for ensuring that all their IT and business operations align with the company’s vision and strategy. 

Solutions that don’t start by zooming out, looking at the organisation as a whole, and involve everyone impacted, are doomed to struggle. Key decision-makers, including executives, managers, and people responsible for actual operations, must have an understanding of exactly what is trying to be achieved and how it will impact their respective areas, or how their areas can support these initiatives.

Proposed solutions should be well understood and in alignment with existing initiatives and tactics, or at very least, not directly hinder them. Innovative solutions usually challenge the status quo which causes uneasiness among stakeholders, and challenges the existing tried and trusted ways of doing things.

Most businesses offer solutions through a form of products or services. When we can look at a solution, the different people, departments, and processes involved, we can map how technology supports and enriches these activities and the business as a whole.

Who should have a say?

In short, everyone. Needless to say, there will still be final decisions to be made by a product or initiative owner, but the group should have representatives from various units including 3rd party collaborators, and even representatives of customers if possible. Some specific stakeholders to include are team heads, customer sample groups, subject matter experts, as well as the people on the ground. A diverse team will represent a broader set of ideas and initiatives to explore.

Who should be held accountable?

Single initiatives, products, or services should have a single product owner as a decision maker. This person needs to have wide strategic knowledge, and the authority to make decisions without going through escalations. Using the right tools, resources and teams, the PO also needs to collaborate and align with other product owners and their teams. All POs should operate as a team among themselves. Differences in tactics and goals will create problems that snowball to unmanageable levels.

How do you design by committee?

To do this successfully, everyone needs to be brought in regularly – physically or virtually and completely focused on mapping how components fit together, what problems they solve, and how priority is decided. In these collaborative sessions, moving parts should be visualised, and everyone should provide and vote on ideas presented.

Towards the end, the PO or the decision-maker uses votes to guide decisions but doesn’t always choose the popular vote. The decision-maker should have more awareness and strategic knowledge to make data-driven decisions about their own initiatives.

Ensure that you have atomic teams and sufficient engagement

Teams should have fewer responsibilities, but autonomy in decision making within them – allowing for more dynamic results. A single person in the team should be accountable for success or failure. This is usually the product owner.

Technology teams need to break down silos and collaborate with other teams. These teams should have diversity of skills, such as engineers, analysts, designers, and subject matter experts. A team that can own all aspects of its solutions are more nimble, efficient, and care more about the things they build.

Why do it this way?

The least likely people have the best ideas. These are usually the people on to the ground. By involving everyone, there’s a sense of purpose and ownership towards the solutions, and all those involved will be cheerleaders for it within the business.

Using these methods will ensure that executive teams are supported with more data and real-life experiences from the organisation to guide decisions.

It might be difficult to imagine how these collaborative exercises work, how they can provide value without wasting everyone’s time, and how many voices can contribute to a single map of the business’s ambition, but it becomes clear through actually doing instead of imagining.

Need more guidance on how to gain alignment?

We can help you crystalise the way forward and facilitate decision-making. Get in touch.

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