Warning Sign #1 of a Doomed Cloud Implementation: Inconsistent Executive Buy-In

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Over the years I’ve helped a lot of companies with their salesforce implementations, as well as been part of internal IT implementation teams. In the next few posts, I discuss patterns I’ve seen that have told me that an implementation is headed for trouble. I also discuss actions you should take to get your cloud implementation back on course before things seriously derail.

An executive stakeholder that doesn’t believe in (or understand) cloud-based solutions: Either one of the executives wasn’t fully bought in to the purchasing decision, or he/she came in after the decision was already made and the implementation has already started. Now that you’re making progress, this person can slow things down by asking basic questions that everyone else thought was already addressed, or ask to re-evaluate the decision.

The project owner and executive sponsor who greenlighted the project need to proactively educate the new person on the history behind what business challenges and vendor evaluations led to the current selection. Catch the person up to the plan and its benefits. Maybe let them know what (in-house or other vendor) solutions you’ve already evaluated and why those didn’t work, or at least be able to address those types of questions.

If the executive was already at your company when the decision was made, but has concerns because they weren’t part of the discussion, you need to make sure their concerns are heard and addressed. (And, yes, they should’ve been involved from the beginning.)

The assumption here is that the person will go along with it. Most of the time, this happens. But, once in a while you get a person who, for perfectly rational reasons (to them), may not.

In a more troublesome scenario, the unbelieving stakeholder may understand what cloud-based solutions do, but doesn’t trust the vendor with your company’s data (which is one point of using a hosted solution). A custom, in-house solution is then proposed (usually if the person is in IT or Engineering) instead of the cloud-based application. Some may even propose a mirrored-but-custom-and-in-house solution so data is kept up-to-date in your local environment. This could happen despite the de-brief discussed previously.

In this situation, you (with the help of the vendor’s account team) need to understand where the discomfort is coming from, and offer up proof that the data is safe, there are similar companies in your space that are doing this, the strategic benefits to going in this direction, and that the risk in trusting a vetted vendor is balanced by the time your company will save from pulling engineers off of other projects to build something that already exists. Maybe this stakeholder has brought up some good points, but if you’ve done your homework (I hope you have), you should have faced those concerns before also.

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