You have an idea for a project – a very clear idea, in fact. And you’re convinced that it will be of benefit to your organisation. But, how do you turn this idea into a reality?
I don't know about you, but, in my experience, I’ve noticed that the analysts and IT-coordinators responsible for projects can often have difficulty getting a ‘vote of confidence’ from their directors or managers when it comes to getting projects to their final decision stage and in obtaining budget approval.
It could be that there’s a hint of insecurity arising from potential risks, and a lack of decision-making stagnates the project. In other situations, it's simply the thought of having to pitch the budget proposal that stands in the way. So, what can you do to make sure you have the confidence to speak to your manager and secure the budget you need to get your project off the ground? The answer? Present better.
1. Define the problems you need to resolve
Before you can find a solution, you’ve got to know what you need to solve. So, define a list of the pains and needs that will motivate the project. After defining these issues, work towards understanding how each of them impacts your daily routine. Usually, the impact is on time, money, or energy:
Time: when the pain is reflected via bureaucracy and drawn-out processes;
Money: when the pain incurs high costs to the company;
Energy: when the pain is generated as the current effort-levels and energy expenditure ends up affecting your other day-to-day activities.
Try to link what you’ve identified to concrete data so that the evidence is clear. In my experience, translating problems to financial losses is often the best strategy to take when trying to justify investments in solutions.
2. Prioritise your needs
After defining the problems and their impacts, draw up a list of your priorities. As a word of advice, make sure that you only present the three you believe are absolutely crucial to the project’s success, to hammer home your point. And, don't dilute your message. Remember that, for the director, the problems that cause the most financial loss are the ones that will be most prominent.
3. Structure the project phases and activities properly
Now you can structure the project’s activities and distribute them to those who’ll be responsible. This is important as it’s crucial to make sure that the activities and phases will progress smoothly. Divide the activities into phases, and, at each end of phase, take stock of how things are going. Your actions need to be objective and have a target date, but deadlines should also be reasonable and achievable. Trying to over-achieve may look impressive, but in the long run can mean the project takes time out of peoples’ day to day activities, which could be frustrating and demotivating as other goals are not achieved.
4. Make prior arrangements
After structuring the project, work on the expectations of your director/manager about the needs and importance of the investment; demonstrate to them the best possible results that you could achieve. Doing this should make justifying an increase in budget easier. In addition, you should ask for their opinion on the activities you’ve thought of, give your point of view and lead a discussion on how you would like to proceed with the project.
5. Demonstrate your results
After sign-off, increase your chance of participating in more projects by demonstrating the results of your work to others, showing them how you achieved your goals. When doing so, be objective! Briefly demonstrate what the problem was, what actions you took and what you delivered. And, don’t forget to give credit to everyone who participated in your project, too. This not only improves your credibility, but will also look favourable with your senior colleagues.
By undertaking these steps, you’ll make the decision process more agile and will stand out as being a proactive member of the team. This behaviour demonstrates both your confidence and commitment to your managers, who’ll find it easier to be able to give you more decision-making power in future projects. Additionally, it will be easier to request a higher budget from your department, as structuring needs and solutions will justify the increase in value.
Other ways to get noticed? Improve the image of your department with our guide in this short e-book.