Most of us have heard the term “buy-in,” but do we really know what it means? Often, you hear the term used regarding a sports team where the players have “bought into” i.e. committed to the program, philosophy, and objectives of their organization. When all team members buy-in, success follows. Players are not making selfish decisions but instead act as one, moving towards a common goal by following the same game plan.
In the business world, buy-in serves the same purpose. It brings your whole team together, regardless of department, and serves as the roadmap for achieving your goals. Just like on a sports team, without buy-in conflicting agendas, perspectives, and styles of execution get in the way of success. However, when everyone commits to the same strategy and works towards common goals that generate real value for all involved, the best results are achieved.
The Impact of Buy-In on a Project
How do we measure the impact of organizational buy-in on a project’s success? An easy way is to determine the risks and challenges associated with not having all the key stakeholders on the same page. What kinds of problems present themselves when some of them don’t recognize the benefits of the project? What happens without support from the leadership team? Can the project still provide value without input from everyone who should be involved? Your findings should make it clear that buy-in from all parties is critical to the outcome of the project.
Given its importance, how can you achieve buy-in for your project from all stakeholders? In our example below, we outline the benefits of implementing a digital asset management (DAM) program and ten ways to build buy-in for it.
Building Buy-In for a DAM Project
Digital asset management (DAM) deploys tools, standards, and processes to effectively utilize digital and creative assets. In this context, “assets” represent photographs, videos, design files, internal documents, and other creative content.
Let’s assume your team wants to purchase and implement a new DAM platform to better manage your brand’s assets. At the moment, assets are scattered across many departments in different hard drives and servers and are impossible to find quickly. Employees spend valuable time searching for specific assets to use, and if they can’t be found, the organization spends money recreating them. A DAM platform will provide a single source of truth to house all your assets and allow your staff to find and use assets easily.
This project, however, is not as simple as finding a piece of software and moving assets into it. First, you’ll need a budget for your project. Platforms can be costly and a budget requires approval from the leadership team. Next, you should determine what kinds of assets will live on the platform. Finally, you’ll have to develop standards for file naming, metadata, folder structure, and the various workflows involved in using and managing your new DAM.
1. Meet with Key Stakeholders
Regardless of the project, you must identify who success or failure impacts most. In our example, this step serves several purposes. Bringing all stakeholders together allows you to fully understand the challenges faced by each team, their goals, and their workflow needs. Your search for a DAM platform and the creation of DAM standards will not be as successful without this information. Having a clear understanding of the scope of the challenges facing your brand also makes it much easier to communicate the value of the project to your leadership team
2. Set clear, SMAART Goals
With your stakeholders, generate a list of 3-5 strategic, measurable, achievable, aggressive, realistic, and time-sensitive (SMAART) goals to measure the project by. Setting these goals allows every department to work towards achieving them, without confusion or compromise. We cannot stress enough the importance of creating these goals with all involved parties. If goals skew towards one team, buy-in across the organization falls apart.
3. Make the Case for Your Project
Once you have a firm grasp on the challenges your organization faces and a roadmap for overcoming them, calculate and document the value your project will bring. Ensure that the value is communicated in terms that matter to your leadership team. What do they care about most? For example, if productivity is their chief concern, quantify the hours your solution saves employees. Having this information will help you make the case for the budget you need to implement the project.
4. Communicate Risks and Your Plan to Manage Them
In addition to the benefits of your project, it is important to communicate the risks and how you plan to mitigate them. Not only does this earn trust, but it also shows your team’s thoughtfulness and the depth of your preparation. More than any forecasted revenue increase or budget relieving solution, an honest acknowledgment of risks and a clear plan of action to avoid them allows your leadership team to buy-in to the project.
5. Bring End-Users in Early
Once you’ve gotten buy-in from your key stakeholders and the leadership team approving your budget, there remains a final group you need to include. In our example, this group is the end-users. These are the people creating, searching for, and using content, executing the workflows you’ve designed, and following your standards. Be sure to bring in representatives from this group early in the process to get their feedback and ensure that the project will make their lives easier.
6. Provide Space for Feedback Throughout the Project
Throughout the process, create channels of communication for all users to provide feedback. Examples from DAM include surveys of end-users to capture their recommendations for file naming standards and folder structures. Keep end-users in the loop about decisions and give them opportunities to ask questions and offer suggestions. Their buy-in is vital since they are the people using your solution day-to-day.
7. Listen and Pivot
Providing avenues for feedback often is not enough to secure buy-in from end-users. Listen to their suggestions and complaints and adjust your road map accordingly. When you do this, end-users see that you value their input and are willing to make changes where appropriate.
8. Maintain a Long-Term Focus
Implementing a DAM is much more than a one-time project, it’s a program. Your digital asset management efforts do not end after you’ve implemented a platform and created standards and processes who manages the platform? Who ensures standards are being followed? How do they do this? While these questions are specific to DAM, the issues are the same no matter the project. Keep an eye fixed on the long-term. What project follows this one? Begin to lay the seeds for buy-in for the next project, even as you execute this one.
9. Make it Easy on New Employees
How will you ensure buy-in from employees hired during your project or after its completion? When new staff joins your organization you’ll need to ensure that the standards and workflows you spent time creating are shared with them. The best way to do this is to document your rules and processes and develop training materials. The buy-in you secured from your end-users helps greatly here. As employees are on-boarded, they are more likely to follow your procedures if their peers already do.
10. Ensure the Process Outlasts the Personnel
Be sure that there isn’t only one “gatekeeper” for your DAM so that the standards and workflows you’ve established will be preserved regardless of changes in personnel. If your stakeholders bought-in sufficiently, the process will be preserved regardless of changes in personnel. This is the ultimate goal of securing buy-in from all parties involved in the project before its implemented.
Securing buy-in is key to the success of any project and your organization’s continuing benefit from it. Interested in learning more about DAM and securing buy-in for DAM projects by creating standards that outlast personnel? Contact Stacks today!