Q. How do I get senior management’s buy-in in order to increase my budget and implement new security initiatives that can provide value to the company?
A. Obtaining buy-in for a project starts by assessing the lay of the land. To start:
- Understand the organizational culture, timing, available budget dollars, and readiness for the type of initiatives for which you are seeking support. For example, if there is a major acquisition planned and your peer in Finance informs you that budget dollars are “non- existent,” this is (perhaps) not the time to seek a budget increase. However, if significant bottom line savings are intended as a result of the new project, the anticipated savings should be used to support your request for a budget increase.
- Inquire about other ongoing stakeholder-competing priorities and where your project might fit it, priority wise.
- Partner with peer stakeholders to ensure the proposed security strategy complements the overall business strategy and brings articulated value to the organization.
- Provide a project timeline and identify any potential risks to the plan. Rationale: Every proposed project carries some form of potential risk. It’s essential to provide stakeholders with all relevant information regarding each aspect of the project in order for them to make fully informed decisions.
- Highlight the proposed value of the project by articulating the intended benefits and the way the implementation cost is outweighed. Value can include reducing operating costs, delivering bottom line savings, increasing profitability, reducing attrition, enhancing brand image, improving employee morale, strengthening compliance, increasing capabilities, streamlining processes, reducing or eliminating risk, and strengthening customer relations. The more value you can create the more likely you will be to gain support.
- Propose a business case and cultivate the engagement and support of the many internal stakeholders needed to gain buy-in from senior leadership.
Once you have determined the project has strong stakeholder support, it is time to create and execute a formal program implementation plan. The plan must include sufficient details regarding the overall strategy of the project and how it complements the strategic objectives of the organization. Name and purpose of the project, names of all committed stakeholders, anticipated value, project start/stop dates, implementation and all associated costs, known or suspected barriers that might impact project success and a set of agreed-upon metrics must be incorporated. In addition, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that will be used to evaluate the efficacy of the project and measure overall program success should be provided. Once all of the details are agreed upon, it is time to solicit senior management for their buy-in.
Response provided by Keith Jones, Emeritus Faculty, The Security Executive Council