Leaders say they want innovative ideas from their workers, but their default answer to requests for funds to make them happen can simply be ‘no’. What can you do to write and present the best internal case for the money you need for your FM software project? Here’s the wisdom of the best ‘pitchers’ in the business, distilled for you:
1. Know your audience
“Put yourself in the shoes of your audience” says Stacey Shaw of software company Pitch Deck. “Understand what’s keeping them awake at night and what they need to hear to back you in your cause.”
Each audience - the BODs, finance and IT teams will have different agendas, but they’ll have common cause in many areas - financial controls, meeting strategic objectives, access to data to drive decision making....
Make sure you identify their distinct pain points and craft your presentation accordingly.
2. Lead with the need
You know how children drive their parents crazy by always asking ‘why’? As you prepare your proposal you should always be asking yourself ‘why’, too.
Why am I proposing this? Why should the BODs listen to me? Why should they spend the company’s money in this way?”
Raymond Sheen, the writer of Harvard Business Review’s “Guide to Building Your Business Case” says we can often get so bogged in the detail of a proposal, that we miss the most important point:
Clearly articulate the business need as soon as you begin”, says Sheen because no matter how well researched or innovative your solution, you won’t get support if the need isn’t apparent or convincing”
So, don’t just provide a ‘laundry list’ of features that the business needs to acquire. Make it very clear:
- What’s at stake for each team
- How your proposed solution can answer business challenges
- Benefits it will bring to the business as a whole.
3. Keep it simple, stupid.
Obviously, we’re not calling you stupid.
But we are saying be clear in your writing - spell out exactly what the business will be getting for its money. Speak to the needs of the business as a whole. And don’t be afraid to make cuts to your text. In written form and in live presentations - your proposal needs to be snappy and to the point.
3. Tell a great story
Make sure there’s a clear structure to your proposal. Think of it like a story - with a beginning, a middle and a satisfying end.
Explain the problem, describe the potential solution, the risks to the business of not acting, and share your vision of a more efficient and profitable future with the most effective digital FM tools.
You shouldn’t be afraid to use real world stories to support your proposal, too.
How has the success of a pilot project transformed the performance and morale of your team? Is there an example of how your current inefficient process is impacting customer satisfaction?
Nancy Duarte, CEO of Durate Inc. a company specialising in presentations and corporate messaging workshops, points out that resistance from budget holders when presented with new ideas is often driven by fear. Fear of change.
The first reaction to proposed change is typically fear,” says Durate “and the only real way to get your audience to overcome their reluctance is to “appeal to the heart and not the mind.”
Help your readers empathise with the problems your teams are encountering and recognise how they could make a difference by helping you make the change.
4. Use industry figures/trends to make your case
Don’t forget 20% of FM initiatives fail because of a lack of a compelling business case.
You need to make the case with clear facts and figures, too. Illustrate your argument with carefully chosen stats from reputable sources.
FM stats and information can be found in the following online resources. But your CAFM partner should help you will supporting materials, too:
- Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
- Facilties Management Journal
- Building and Facilities Management Magazine
- Tomorrow’s FM
5. Use imagery
Charts, tables and screenshots will make your document more interesting and compelling. And a few screenshots of your proposed CAFM solution (ideally populated with your company’s data) will help your reader envisage how the solution can be made to work for them.
6. Show them the money
Bottom line”, says Stacey Shaw of Pitch Deck, “make the case for the underlying need and financial impact of the solution”
The budget holders will want to see your calculations for the potential savings which will result from your implementation. Make them as clear and realistic as you can. You should include potential savings in the first and subsequent years following an installation, to reflect how savings can increase once initial set up costs have been met.
And Stacey Shaw has another piece of advice, too:
Don’t forget non-monetary or soft benefits such as brand reputation and improved worker morale that can come from a new business solution (note: all of these can culminate in eventual financial impacts, too)”
7. Practice your elevator pitch
Sometimes, you only get one chance to make your case with the right people in the room.
Sales people perfect their ‘elevator pitch’ for just this reason. It’s the pitch for a project that can be delivered in a minute - the time it takes for a lift to reach the top of a building. You should rehearse for that precise moment when you have a ‘captive audience’, when you have the undivided attention of the budget holders who hold the fate of your project in their hands. Want more tips on how to present ‘in the flesh’? This article in the HBR has some powerful hands on examples.
So, there you have it. 7 top tips for improving your chances of winning budget for your FM software project as you write and present your business case. But, in summary: don't forget to lead with the need, strive for clarity and, above all, show them the money!