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Three buy-in challenges all CIOs face

Eric Ernest | June 28, 2013
Look at some of the buy-in challenges that most CIOs don't like talking about—and how to beat them.

A tough situation for any CIO to face given that the target team you are approaching will most probably dig their heels in and refuse to change their current way of working.

At TATA Global Beverages, group CIO Susheel Navanale, faced such a scenario when trying to implement a global SAP instance at one of the group's subsidiaries abroad, which was using a legacy ERP solution.

The Indian multinational beverages company, which recently reported a profit of Rs 663 crore, has been growing through a spate of acquisitions across different geographies from Russia to the United States. With units located across multiple geographies, Navanale's team identified the need to roll out SAP as in important step towards standardizing processes throughout the company and being able to centralize data so that it could be retrieved easily. The IT roadmap is aligned with the company's five-year business plan, and is validated every year to make sure that the alignment remains.

When Navanale approached this subsidiary with the proposal, they were, unsurprisingly, not enthusiastic about it. They laid out their reasons why they had to put off moving to SAP. First, their business was not yet ready for the move, then they had a people bandwidth and availability issues that would not allow them to share any resources with IT; third, they feared that their operations would be disrupted; and finally, the business benefits, they said, were not too clear to them.

Navanale emphasizes the importance of addressing such concerns immediately. As he would require the best resources from the subsidiary' functional team to be part of the project core team, he suggested that he would backfill those resources as a part of the project cost. This meant hiring temporary staff, so that the team's business wouldn't be disrupted.

In trying to convince the team to adopt this system, Navanale showed them the costs they wound have saved if they moved to SAP, a potent argument in this day and age. He pointed out that just the cost of upgrading their existing ERP and the hardware it worked on, would be substantial and not in line with the IT strategy and roadmap.

Navanale also took to what he calls "socializing" to positively influence the major stakeholders to his point of view.

"You can't just jump in front of a committee, at the last minute, and expect to get the necessary approvals," he says, emphasizing the importance of meeting with the stakeholders beforehand, a strategy Chaturvedi also pointed out.

Keeping concerned folk updated on a project is also of vital importance, he says. Moreover, it's at this stage that CIOs should be able to discern the traits of each of the business peers he has to meet so that he knows how he can interact with them, whether informally, formally and so on. This is the kind of political-savvy Navanale advocates CIOs should have to be able to influence their peers.


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