Big or small, tech projects can be tough for CFOs and other finance leaders because, to some extent, they’re out of your control.
You need enthusiasm and effort from your finance team. You also have to solicit help from your IT department. And of course, you must secure buy-in from users – maybe from different departments companywide or even your external trading partners.
Unfortunately, a lack of connection with all these people can deter your success. About 30%-60% of IT project implementations and 70% of change management projects fail, found consulting firm McKinsey & Co. For CFOs, that amounts to money, time and resources down the drain.
But there is an upside. The firm discovered that if people are fully invested in a project, it has a 30% higher success rate.
When you and your finance team are ready to reveal tech project plans to others, here are some communication tips to keep in mind:
1. Zero in on your target(s). Your team must keep in mind who they’re pitching to and trying to persuade. Have them ask: Once your tech project is put in place, who would be facilitating it and using it? Then consider what talking points those people will be interested in. For example, if you’re implementing a new time tracking system, you and Payroll might see streamlined digital processes and saved time as the top benefits. But employees will likely want to hear more about how it’ll make their jobs easier. So capitalize on that point.
2. Make it snappy. CFOs know better than most that people aren’t swimming in extra time. So if your team’s spiel goes on for too long, others could lose interest. Encourage your team to use plain English – and don’t get too far into the weeds of your tech project’s details unless specifically asked to. Also, don’t forget to use memorable phrases (e.g., user-friendly interface, streamlined workflow) all employees can take away after.
3. Follow up. After initially relaying your tech project, have your team follow up and recap your key points. They should also make themselves available for additional discussions if anyone still has questions or concerns. This will show employees you’re committed to your tech project and getting them on board.
Once the groundwork’s been laid and your tech project’s marinating with others, what comes next? Here’s advice from the Association of Finance Professionals to continually increase support and make a pain-free transition:
1. Utilize enthusiasts. Eventually, your team will start to see which people are fully behind tech projects and see the benefits. For example, if you’re introducing a more mobile T&E experience, your road warriors may be the most excited. Encourage those people to be role models and spread positivity. Remember: It’s important to choose project spearheaders based on enthusiasm and talent, not simply who’s the most available.
2. Realize resistance comes in many forms. To combat resisters, your team should consider the various emotions others may be feeling (e.g., fear, anger, confusion). Then they can fit messages or actions to their emotions. Are they afraid of falling behind? Create social or training groups so they can improve their skills and feel more confident. Do they feel unheard? Let them participate by testing the apps, providing feedback, etc.
3. Think long term. CFOs recognize that the be all end all of tech projects isn’t the launch date. It’s the utilization of the tech. So instead of viewing it as a project with a start and end date, remind your team to see it as a continuous feat that’ll likely need attention later. With that mindset, you’ll maintain success over time.