Last week, we discussed why it’s essential to get buy-in from all your stakeholders, before you begin any effort to replace, renew or create an ECM strategy. Without buy-in, your new ECM strategy will miss the mark and never gain wide acceptance.

Now you’ve got the stakeholders on-board, there’s one more hurdle to clear before you can kick off.

You’ll need a sponsor, or more than one, to make sure the goals of the project align with overall business strategy – and to get it funded.

This week, we’ll discuss how to ensure your project gets the business sponsorship it needs to move forward.

  1. Are you aligned with the company’s strategic goals?

At the executive level, strategic initiatives are macro in scope, at the 100K foot level and above. Such strategies aren’t always disseminated downward to individual teams as discrete, actionable plans.

Then, too, subject matter experts often focus on the nuts-and-bolts of implementing a solution. They assume everyone just “knows” the importance of their infrastructure project. But company execs aren’t buying infrastructure – they’re buying ways to simplify reaching their strategic business goals.

How, then, can a 10K to 50K foot ECM initiative ever gain executive attention and sponsorship? It falls to the subject matter experts to clearly articulate upwards how their own initiative maps to the executives’ larger vision.

Does your new ECM strategy initiative resonate with any of the corporate strategic initiatives? Does it somehow add tangible value, reduce risks or foster innovation? Will its omission hinder other corporate initiatives?

The more ways you can say “yes,” the more credibility you gain with senior executives.

  1. How does the organization see the value in ECM?

To promote the value of your ECM strategy, you must know how your organization views ECM. In other words, what are the primary use cases that apply?

Each use case requires a different emphasis for its presentation.

  • Is better curation and dissemination of information a way to differentiate the company from its competition? If so, emphasize how your strategy will grow the business and add revenue.
  • Is it more a commodity manager – a way to better manage information assets – and therefore improve operations where content is concerned? Then emphasize capabilities that help manage cost, reduce redundancy and drive productivity.
  • Is ECM more about resilience and compliance within the infrastructure? Stress how the ECM initiative will reduce privacy and compliance risks, in contrast to the potential exposure and costs of doing nothing.
  • How about fostering innovation, in search of a possible game-changer? Focus on the potential rewards, as well as the benefits of R&D write-offs.

Knowing which use cases apply to your organization determines the questions to be asked (and answered) if you’re to make your case. Which brings us to…

  1. Ask the questions, don’t just tell the answers

Now you know which use cases apply, you’ll need to ask how the ECM strategy will advance the company’s goals.

For example, if ECM is to be a market differentiator…

  • How will it make you different (and grow revenue)?
  • How much revenue will it grow, and how quickly?

For managing information assets, you’d ask…

  • How will it drive productivity?
  • How much operational cost reduction will you see (and when)?

To manage infrastructure and ensure compliance…

  • What regulatory, brand and revenue impacts/risks will it mitigate?
  • What are the potential costs of an “incident” (to do nothing)?

Each of these example use cases drives a much deeper set of questions. (We can expand on these at a later date.)

Dig deep. Ask these questions – and many more – of your direct reports and their reports, so that the answers come from those who know the details best. Then boil it down and bubble the distilled truth upwards.

Gaining sponsorship and beyond

The most crucial element in gaining executive sponsorship is to align your strategy with the overall business strategy. Of course, you’ll need to communicate this information along with the business value, projected gains, risks and costs of not doing it, cost breakdown and more.

Start by understanding how ECM fits with the business goals, and which use cases make the most sense. That will tell you the deeper questions to be answered, so you can make a convincing case for sponsorship. Then you can proceed to Step 1 of defining the strategy itself.

Next week, we’ll get into that first step, an assessment of what you already have. Until then, think about how your ECM strategy initiative will play within the big picture.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can improve business processes, increase productivity and reduce costs? Schedule a meeting with a Systemware expert for a free assessment.

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