Sell Your Digital Project to the Management

Digital projects only become a reality once the management decides to invest in them. But competition to get a share of the company's investment funds is often tough. Like any other competitive situation, it's worthwhile knowing the rules and having some well thought-out tactics.

At the end of this article is a template you can use to help you find the resources you need to turn a great digital idea into reality.

Know the rules

The first step is to make sure you know the rules of how your company prioritises good project ideas. Find out whether there is a process for how your company prioritises new projects. If a process exists, you need to know the following:

  • When does it take place? Is it once a year, quarterly or something else?
  • What are the deadlines in the process?
  • Are there any templates you need to fill in?
  • Which forum decides which projects get the thumbs up or down?

And how will you get answers to your questions? Use your existing network - and expand it by connecting with people that have the relevant knowledge. Start by asking your boss, or colleagues who you know have been through the process.

Relationships beat presentations

The next step is to learn more about who is in the prioritisation forum. Find out what the participants prioritise most: Is it sales, efficiency, marketing or good customer experiences that make them pick one project over another?

Find the participant that will benefit most from your project and try to get some time to talk to them to pitch your idea. This might mean sitting in the right place in the canteen, getting in the lift at the same time as them, or finding a third place where you are likely to bump into him/her. It could also be as simple as booking a meeting with the person to chat about your idea.

There should be two goals for such a conversation: To gain input on how the idea could be adjusted to become even better. And to sell the idea to the relevant person. Because good relationships always beat presentations.

Present your project properly

A good presentation might not help you win on its own, but a bad presentation can make you lose, however great your idea is. That's why it is worth spending some time on structuring your presentation.

You probably already have an idea of whom you are communicating to and what they think is important. Now the question is how to structure your presentation. Perhaps your company has a template you need to use. If so, start with that.

You can also gain valuable knowledge by looking at the presentations of projects that were successful in getting a thumbs up: What can you learn from the way these presentations were structured? Try also to get hold of examples of documents that weren't selected. Can you learn anything from their approach? Were their presentations too long or too short? Did they fail to highlight the risks?

Best practice structure

If you don't have a template to start with, find inspiration from the structure recommended by the Harvard Business Review in the book "Building Your Business Case." Each of the eight boxes represents a slide, which you can include in your presentation.

It's important that you present your pitch so that it works on its own. Because you can never guarantee that you will get the chance to present it. Some participants might be absent at the meeting, or the time might run out before it's your turn. And then you need to make sure your story is clear and concise, so that it's easy to tell - and keep telling.

Click on the image to enlarge the template.