(Hat tip to Brad Montgomery for the photo)
Ninety seven percent of the 246 CEOs surveyed by PwC said that innovation is at the top of their agenda and new technology plays a vital role in driving it forward.
The right technology can automate and streamline routine processes, foster collaboration and boost efficiency, but, in a climate of cut budgets and penny pinching, it can be daunting to pitch new tech to your boss.
Our handy little guide makes poking your head above the parapet and suggesting something new that little bit easier.
The bottom line is top of their agenda
It’s not the new technology itself that matters but the business value that you can extract from it, and this is what your boss is interested in.
They don’t want to know all the ins and outs and the whys and wherefores – they want to know the costs and benefits and whether they’ll get a good return on investment, so give it to them.
This doesn’t mean that the tech you suggest has to be a complete game changer, it could be something smaller, like a business social app, a more efficient online collaboration tool or a piece of software that automates your paperwork. But, whatever it is, it should solve an existing problem within the business. Suggesting new tech because it looks cool or has a wealth of awards won’t work. You need tech that’s best fit, not best in class.
Do your research before you pitch new tech
First and foremost, this requires careful research around the product you want to pitch.
And this means more than just skimming the website. Read relevant white papers, third-party reviews, customer testimonials and case studies, particularly ones relevant to your industry. You’ll quickly get an idea of the key benefits and common pitfalls, allowing you to anticipate your boss’s questions.
If there’s a free trial, use it. Does it have the right features? Does it have too many? How intuitive is it? Could your colleagues quickly get to grips with it? Would they need training?
The key is to ask ‘how does this help my boss and the business?’, not ‘how does this help me?’ Maybe it does help you, but you still need to answer why that helps them: after all, they’re who you are pitching to.
Paper and pitch
Next, you want to get your pitch down on paper so you can send it to your boss.
Crucially, you need it to be positive and confident. You won’t convince anyone with ‘I’m not sure if this will work, but…’ You also want to be thorough but brief; your boss has neither the time nor inclination to read a weighty tome of tech.
- Lead with the conclusion – give them the bottom line first.
- Outline the business problem the new tech will solve and show how it’ll do it. This needs to be brief and to the point. Don’t give a comprehensive list of features – talk about tangible, relevant benefits to the business.
- If it’s a particularly complex piece of software, you need to consider how long it’ll take to roll out – how much training will be needed?
- Give the projected financial benefits: ‘we need to invest this much, but we’ll get this much back.’
After sending your pitch to your boss, follow it up by scheduling a meeting with them to discuss it further. This is the time to consider the common objections to your suggestion and work out how they can be overcome to anticipate any concerns your boss may have.
But make sure you find a good time to pitch your idea. If there’s a tight deadline looming or your boss is having a particularly tough week, reschedule.
I love it when a plan comes together
Whether you’re an intern, on the first rung of the ladder or in your first managerial position, successfully pitching the right idea at the right time can not only improve your business but also improve your position within it.
Rather than keeping your head down and treating work as ‘just a job’, pitching new tech to your boss demonstrates initiative and an interest in the future of the company, positioning you as a valuable, enterprising member of the business.