If you’re an IT manager, engineer, or in some other way fully immersed in your company’s tech side, you may have a thousand reasons in your mind why they need to invest in a new back-end web application. You’re already daydreaming about how much smoother your days will be once this great new app is installed and running, and you’re more than happy to explain all of your reasons to anyone who cares to listen.
Whether you’ve personally experienced it or not, however, your impressive passion is not likely shared by the CEO, the CFO, and other decision makers above you who will tend to view your requisition request as another liability on the balance sheet unless they can be convinced of the value of the application you have in mind.
As engineers and tech professionals working in larger organizations, it’s easy for any of us to develop a kind of tunnel-vision when it comes to understanding and appreciating the value of advancing technology. There’s no question in our minds that improvements can and should be made, and a new and improved app could very well be the answer.
But your bosses need to have a broader, whole-picture outlook. Their main concern is not necessarily “being up-to-date” or “maximizing redundancy,” or even “expanding bandwidth.”
Their focus is, quite simply, “what’s best for the financial health of the company?”
And that’s where you need to meet them when you’re hoping to convince them to support your efforts to upgrade your tech infrastructure with a new back-end web application. Here are 7 basic questions you’re likely to hear (in so many words) from any higher-up who’s paid to take a more strategic view of the business than you are. By taking a step back and learning to see the project from their perspective, you’ll be in a great position to effectively communicate the value of the new application in language they can understand and agree with.
1. What is this back-end web application going to do for the company?
With this high-level question, a leader isn’t looking for technical nitty-gritty or long-winded explanations of how server speed will go up 1.5% or that your site will be able to support 20% more simultaneous users. Those may very well be true, but it’s not what they’re asking.
Much like a professional ad man, this is a point at which you need to focus on the benefits – not the features – of the purchase you want this person to make. Advertising pros have long depended on the axiom, “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” You need to help your boss understand what tangible – especially financial – benefits the company can expect to experience as a result of this new application.
So, rather than discussing server speed and simultaneous users, extrapolate those facts out and explain how this new back-end application will expand the website’s lead generation capability, growing the number of leads fed to sales on a daily basis. Consider how the increased server speed actually translates to higher customer satisfaction ratings, faster processing of payments and customer service requests, and an overall improvement in productivity.
Those are tangible benefits an executive can appreciate when balancing the cost/benefit equation in their mind.
2. How much money is it going create/save?
While this is similar to the first question, it just serves to underline how vitally important tangible, financial reasoning is if you want strategic executives to understand the value of an investment.
While the answers to the previous question may be somewhat more nebulous or intangible (like an increase in customer satisfaction, for instance,) it’s vital that you be able to tie actual dollars and cents to these benefits in a realistic and believable way. This will probably take some research as a smart leader will want to see how you arrived at your figures. But the time investment is well worth it if it results in a “yes” rather than a “no”.
3. What does the back-end web application cost?
For obvious reasons, this is a vital question to answer as early in the process as possible. It’s impossible to effectively judge whether an investment is valuable based only on the returns.
This is why custom software developers provide estimates. What’s important, though, is to work closely with your chosen development partner to ensure that the estimate is as accurate as it reasonably can be under the circumstances. It won’t help anyone to get approval from above at one price point only to find support dry up if the price changes.
4. When will it be done?
Scheduling and resource allocation are vital aspects of strategic business administration. If you hope to have your boss get behind a development project, you’re going to have to provide at least a rough schedule, including milestones on the road to successful launch.
Again, work with your development partner here to make sure the schedule you present is both practical and realistic.
5. How are we measuring success?
This is an interesting one because your own definition of success may very well differ from that of your boss. Remember the importance of the answers you’ve arrived at above regarding tangible and measurable costs and benefits. That’s what a C-suite decision maker is going to want to hear the answer to this question based on:
“Within one year of launch, we expect to see a 35% increase in generated leads and a 10% increase in revenue as a direct result of this implementation. Achieving those figures or higher will be our measure of success.”
6. What happens if the new back-end web application fails to achieve our goals?
While you may understandably have a difficult time imagining this fantastic idea of yours failing, understand that a strategically-minded business leader needs to always keep this possibility in mind when making long-ranging decisions and investments. This is where you come to the table with at least 2-3 alternative solutions that are equally or nearly as good as the new back-end application you’re fighting for. While you can make clear that you feel the app is the best possible solution, having alternatives already thought out will help your skeptical boss feel more comfortable that your blinders are off.
7. If it works, how do we duplicate that success?
This is the positive side of question #6: essentially, if you’re right and this new app is just what we needed, what’s your next trick?
Be prepared with at least 2-3 enhancements or complementary projects you can imagine taking on in the future if your new back-end web application ends up as powerfully successful as you think it will be. Your forward-thinking boss will appreciate that you have long-term plans in motion.
Have you had any real-life success in this kind of scenario? If so, tell us your story in the comments.
And, if you’re looking for some help convincing your boss of the need for a new custom software application, contact us and we’ll be glad to discuss it with you to see how we can help.