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How to get buy-in for your data project

Despite the talk of a data driven revolution, the reality for many companies often lags someway behind the ideal of a business built on reliable detailed information analysed using AI. According to a Mckinsey Digital report on leadership and analytics, CEOs cite their biggest challenges to investing in data are “uncertainty over which actions should be taken” and “lack of financial resources.” Fundamentally, it appears that some business leaders still don’t believe that analytics have a high enough ROI.  

If you know that a data project could deliver huge value for your business but you’re struggling to get anyone else to appreciate the importance of all that expensive tech and numbers nonsense, here are a few ways to help change their mind. 

Speak their language 

There’s no point trying to convert anyone into data evangelists at this stage, instead work within the parameters of your organisation. Align your project to existing business priorities and show that you understand the CEO’s strategies. The best way to do this is to create a link between the results of your project and the financial benefits. Get those graphs at the ready! 

Remember that this is a business transaction and not a technical pitch. You’re wasting your time if you can’t convincingly demonstrate that you are addressing a particular business need, so resist using too many technical terms. Instead, explain using visuals which demonstrate that the outcomes from your data project align with the strategic objectives of the business and will bring tangible benefit to the company and the individuals who work there. 

You may need to convince people that you are addressing a demand that they didn’t even know they had. By the end you want not just buy in, but for them to believe that it was their idea all along! 

Recruit key players 

It’s not enough to expect the techies to wave a magic wand and sprinkle stardust over the business. Successful data projects are a partnership between the project team and key business users who work with the numbers on a daily basis. Don’t expect that a diktat from the 17th floor is going to be enough to drive them into making this thing a success, it’s your job to involve as many key players as possible, make them feel they’re being listened to and that they have some control over the direction of the project. 

Throughout the course of any data project, key business users should have frequent and regular opportunities to provide feedback. This agile approach will help to ensure that the solution is actually what the business wants – unless they are able to see the solution in action it’s impossible for them to really know what they want! An added bonus is that they will feel that they have shaped the project and will have a vested interest in the outcome. 

Recoup your investment 

From the C-Suite down to the office floor, what everybody wants is something that makes their work easier and the business more successful. If you can demonstrate that what you are doing is going to achieve tangible results they will sit up and listen. For example, a report which currently takes 5 hours will take 1 hour as a result of this project. And if that report is created by 100 people at a cost of £50 per hour, the bill drops from £25,000 to £5,000. 

To hammer that point home, McKinsey carried out analysis over a five year period which showed that companies who put data at the heart of their operation enjoyed marked improvements across all departments, with sales and marketing ROI increasing by 15%-20%. Investing in creating a data driven culture is vital for the growth of any business determined to stay ahead of the pack. 

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