Your boss has asked you to find municipal government software you can use to track _ (fill in the blank)_ more effectively. You turn to the Internet and your favorite search engine, and you find several applications that seem like they might fit the bill. You’ve spent time and money compiling your needs, you’ve seen a few demos, you’ve talked to salespeople, and you’ve narrowed down your choices. You are almost ready to make a formal recommendation to leadership, but you’re pretty sure they are going to ask a question you don’t know how to answer. Here’s a few questions (and answers!) you can expect from leadership when you pitch software.
Are you willing to be held accountable for the implementation and financial outcome of the software?
This is a tough question. You need to be prepared to answer it. Your boss likely isn’t saying you’ll be fired if things don’t go well. She wants to know if you are confident with the pitch. So – are you? Does your vendor have happy customers? Does the vendor handle implementation for you? Do they offer technical support if you need it, and is it included in your service agreement, or are you billed by the hour? You’ve got to know what benefits the software brings your organization, and you need to have a few statements as to why it’s the best fit for you. Chances are, you’ll be the one liaising with the software vendor, and you’ll be expected to master the software quickly and effectively. Make sure you select a vendor who helps with support, training, and reporting. These are likely the things you’ll need the most help with after you go-live with any application.
Who else is using municipal government software like this successfully? What kind of data are they tracking?
Be prepared for this question by asking your vendor for references who are using the applications you’re considering for purchase. Your vendor should be able to match you up with a few clients who have similar business practices and procedures, and who have common goals. Leaders and managers often seek validation and insight from their peers when it comes to making purchase decisions. What are some things that other organizations like yours are doing with the technology you’re presenting to leadership? What kind of results are they getting? Be prepared to discuss the benefits of using the software, and think like a boss. What are the most important things to your boss?
How will we know the software is successful? How will we measure success?
Sometimes, it’s difficult to explain the return on investment for purchasing technology, particularly when determining hard dollar amounts. How many hours did you spend creating reports for senior leadership? Have you calculated hard costs for tracking data? Searching for records? What are you internal goals with regards to tracking data? Do you want to use less paper? Do you want to increase accountability? Do you want to a cloud-based solution so your IT staff doesn’t have to manage additional applications? Which main metrics are you tracking? Develop a Top 3 list, and share this with leadership.
You’re a trusted member of the team. You’ve got to be able to justify the purchase, and the ongoing costs associated with use, training, and access. Knowing the answers to these three questions demonstrates to your boss that you understand the complexity of purchasing decisions, and that you’re a visionary.
Trying to decide if a cloud-based application is best for you?
Here’s 10 reasons why you should move your processes to the web.