Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In for that BI Project

Stakeholder buy-in can be particularly tricky when you’re trying to win support of a BI software implementation because there are a lot of smart people that just don’t understand what business intelligence does. And although they may be asking you for reports, or analytics on company data each month, there are a lot of people that don’t actually know what BI can do for them and the organization.

So, here we give you some tips on how to gain stakeholder buy-in to get your BI Project some momentum. These tips may be handy when trying to gain funding approval. Or you may already have a BI platform but you’re fighting for priority amongst other projects to get it implemented. You may even just need some renewed vigor on that BI installation that happened a while back with low levels of adoption.

Before we start, one thing to remember: this process doesn’t need to be formal and can be a very quick process when you’ve got the right techniques. You might see an ‘ah-hah!’ moment, or the penny drop in a millisecond. Regardless of how structured you are about it, here are a few tips’n’tricks proven to work to win influence and gain stakeholder buy-in necessary for your BI Project.

Step 1: Identify your Stakeholders

Of course, it’s important to appeal to financial sponsors and people that can ultimately approve or fund your BI project. But it’s wise to also map out any individuals, departments or teams that will be affected by your BI Implementation.

This process will help you get a good grip on who is a part of your project, who may be able to cooperate on the project, and what impact they may have – including anyone that may risk becoming a roadblock for you.

Typically, if you don’t gain buy-in from:

  • Senior Executives – you’re unlikely to get budget or resources required for your BI projects;
  • Project Team – at the very least, a lack of buy-in with this group will generate delays on your implementation and at worst, derail your BI dreams;
  • Middle Management – these guys can seriously hamper your attempts to get users adopting the BI application in their regular activity
  • End Users – these guys will potentially de-value your entire project if they’re not using the software, (yet continue to complain about a lack of business information and chase you for reports!)

PRO-TIP: I’d recommend that you get someone that’s already aligned with you on the value of your initiative to use their influence to assist in getting further buy-in across the organization.

In this instance, they may be a business analyst who can articulate the ‘what’s in it for me’ for various stakeholders, or the IT team who can quantify how much time they spend extracting data from different systems each month for regular reports for senior and middle management.

2. Identify your Stakeholder Requirements

Probably the most important part of your stakeholder analysis is to assess the different needs among your stakeholder group.

From my experience, a way to get started on this, and appeal to the needs of the usual suspects involved in your BI software project are:

  • CFO: Money, money, money. A common one is sales performance for the current period compared with recent history or forecasts, and can we drill down on product lines to consider what we do to meet sales targets?
  • IT Manager: These guys care about software with easy maintenance (such as managed service options), self-service functions and easy to use features for non-technical staff so there’s no burden on the internal IT group.
  • Business Analyst: Your BA is generally after something that is customizable to satisfy a variety of end users and provides summary dashboards for drill-down into deeper data.

PRO TIP: try out a survey (like a free one from Survey Monkey) to assess business information or reporting needs and potential resistance or concerns from your stakeholders. This is also a great way to benchmark buy-in should you move through project phases like pre-implementation, through to adoption.

3. Appealing to Stakeholder Needs

Once you’ve nut out their requirements, you need to keep up communication; consult early, and often. Make sure you offer efficient ways to communicate progress and get feedback from your stakeholders. If you’re doing this with international or remote teams, ensure the communication channel you’re using matches the type of communication you’re trying to achieve.

Here’s some information on the tools and methodology we apply in the management of remote BI projects and virtual BI Teams that may be handy if the remote teams scenario applies to you.

One persuasive communication technique that is really simple, and proven to work across a wide range of scenarios is the ‘Head, Hearts and Hands’ approach:

  • Head: help your stakeholder to understand how the BI tool will practically help them in their role. For instance, focus on how the BI project will make the job of middle management easier by saving time on monthly reports and by providing a line of sight on their employees.
  • Hearts: your stakeholders need to believe the change will be positive for them before they’ll really get behind your project. Ensure you’re letting them know what’s in it for them to have a new BI tool, perhaps with a case study they can relate to.
  • Hands: Finally, the hands must be part of the evaluation– this can be achieved by getting tactile with the proposed solution if you’re trying to get the okay for your preferred BI solution, or building competency by training and practice if you’ve already got an application implemented before you’ll see significant uptake across the business.

PRO TIP: The best and the fastest way to address heads, hearts and hands of almost every stakeholder in a BI software project is to offer a tactile interaction with a solution:

  • Offer live demonstrations of software
  • Make early reviews of configured software available prior to implementation
  • Allow individuals to interact with a proof of concept (POC) – with relevant data, if possible – to allow them to effectively conceptualize how the solution can work for them, and believe in the positive impact for themselves.

Now, if you’ve done all the hard work required to get stakeholders to look at a system, it’s important not to blow this opportunity to win them over by failing to demonstrate ‘what’s in it for me’. If you don’t make the demo or POC relevant to them by using data relevant to their industry, their role or their burning business problem you may risk turning them off your idea all together.

For a limited time, Blueprint Intelligence is offering you a free BI Starter Kit – your free proof of concept, demonstrating your data live so that you can possibly get that BI Project off the ground, or to assess different BI Applications available to you.We’ve called it MINI BI.

Check it out and get in touch with me ( if you have any questions.

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