We all know that purchasing the right piece of technology can be an absolute game changer for your entire team. The busier you are, the more you probably need it. But how do you actually identify what to buy, corral the necessary stakeholders, build a business case, and implement it successfully?
No one teaches this in law school and it can often be an exhausting, time-consuming, and totally loopy experience.
Here are my tips:
1. Do not create a crazy RFP. I've seen people add 7 vendors, invite 4 cross-functional teams to gain consensus, and evaluate across 20+ criteria. That is how things go sideways and take 6+ months. Be ruthless in narrowing requirements down to absolute "must haves" and "nice to haves," and ideally no more than 3 vendors.
2. If you need other teams to buy in for adoption, but you own the budget, then be very clear on that with everyone involved. Select a spokesperson from the other team to participate in the demo, collect feedback/requirements, but everyone should know that you make the final decision.
3. Seek out at least one strong internal champion. If you are the exec sponsor, you should ideally find a strong ops-minded person to help you execute, or if you are the latter, then you need an exec sponsor. Sometimes I’ve found both in one person :) A sales ops leader I worked with helped me oversee the implementation for the solution I brought in.
4. Leverage the vendor. They should help you to put together a business case with ROI, differentiation from competitors, etc.
When I did this in previous roles, I asked the vendor to send me screenshots, video clips of the solution, and decks so I could share with management and other stakeholders, skipping the need to pull them into meetings, while still gaining momentum and buy-in.
If the vendor can't do this part of the job properly, then you've got to wonder how good they will be after you've bought their solution.
5. Break up the implementation into stages. No matter how good the tech is, things will come up during the roll out beyond the vendor's control. Gather feedback & address issues before moving onto the next stage.
6. Share out success metrics to higher ups - tell the story of your success far and wide! Most people neglect this step -- you did so much hard work, this is your reward!!
Previous software that I bought in gave me exec-level visibility, formed an integral part of my promotion package, and enabled me to be seen as an innovator. Negotiating one more contract probably won't help you get promoted, but buying the right piece of tech probably will.