What are the critical factors to consider when getting organizational buy-in for a network?”
In my experience, the most important factor in getting organizational buy-in is to include a representative from every department that may be affected by the project at the beginning of the planning process. The make-up of that group will vary from company to company. It may include marketing, corporate communications, operations, labor relations or human resources, facilities, information technology, finance and others. In an organization with labor unions, if the network will be used to communicate with unionized employees, you may want to include union leaders. Springing a network on them after all of the decisions have been made may result in opposition to this form of communications with union members.
I encountered a situation when deploying a customer-facing network where, despite positive pilot results, there was little support at the headquarters level. I made presentations to all of the regional vice presidents and their senior staff members, with information on pre- and post-pilot research results. I laid out the advantages of the network, basing the information on the objectives established for the pilot including revenue impact, the effect on customer satisfaction and purchase shift from brick-and-mortar to alternate channels. The regional vice presidents were very supportive and encouraged the chief operating officer to fund a rollout to additional sites.
Never forget that the important question is, “What’s in it for me?” When you are trying to get organizational buy-in, keep that question in the back of your mind. The better able you are to answer it for those in the organization whose support you need, the more likely you are to get it.