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How to secure executive buy-in for process improvement

Effective, long-lasting change needs to come from the top. When the executive team endorses process improvement in your business, it will ensure the whole organization pays attention.  Having, or not having it could make the difference between achieving best practice process excellence, or a well-intentioned failure.

If C-level executives believe in and are telling the process improvement story, business teams are more inclined to listen.  This can result in positive changes in the company culture, as those in key leadership roles demonstrate their confidence in the benefits of process excellence, this will in turn encourage others to adequately resource the implementation of better process management, further increasing its likelihood of success.

If you are passionate about process, it’s highly likely and beneficial for you to educate one or more leaders in your organization on how vital their part in the process improvement program really is.


6 ways to convince your C-suite that process management deserves their time, energy, and budget.

1. Set the scene for them

Process improvement isn’t just a trending management approach. It has genuine, tangible benefits that will drive lasting organizational change. Start by taking the time to review what key initiatives have been implemented previously, and better understand what and who motivated those initiatives. Track down those in your organization that might have previously instigated process improvement efforts, and better understand their goals, successes, and failures, and who else in the business might also already be passionate about process.

If you can’t track down the original process improvement drivers, review the current strategic priorities for business teams.  Then align how process improvement can deliver on those strategic goals.

By concentrating on the overall organizational strategies and how you can connect them with better process management, you will flush out the benefits of process excellence for the business, and how they can deliver on the company’s strategy.  For example, clearer, more effective processes will help business groups achieve the goals set for them more efficiently, and a central source of truth can provide dispersed teams cohesion and confidence.

2. Understand C-suite priorities

It’s hard to be passionate about something if you don’t think it impacts you, or if you don’t understand it. If you want to bring executives on board, you need to understand what they are passionate about, so you can target the topics that interest them. Not everyone is invested in the same aspects of the business, so know who cares about which areas, and reach them through that.

That might involve talking with the:

Understanding their specific concerns will allow you to tailor your pitch and vastly increase the impact of your proposal.

It may pay to narrow your scope to a single leader or division first. Rather than try to influence the whole organization in one go, focusing on just one business group or facet of the company, like IT, or Operations to focus on winning this business groups leadership over first. When it comes time to extend the mandate, they will be ready-made champions available to help support you in influencing their peer executive buy-in.

3. Understand, then highlight the hurt

While everyone wants to be motivated by positive outcomes, we’re still more hard-wired to avoid negative ones.  Executives will want to hear about the benefits of better processes and exposing the problems that ineffective processes cause is a legitimate path to getting their attention.

Problems need solutions, so you’ll be very persuasive if you can identify real challenges impacting them and present potential remedies. To bring executives on board, recognize their problem areas, quantify the risks, and explain the potential damage. Then outline the place of process management and a culture of continuous improvement in overcoming those threats.

4. Paint a process excellence picture

Buy-in doesn’t come because of great rhetoric; it needs support. Gather all the evidence together that outlines the full impact of poor organizational processes and get their attention by placing a revenue value on what it’s really costing your business. Then against that backdrop, project the potential gains of better processes and the projected numbers that demonstrate how continuous improvement will benefit the business.

Good preparation, reliable research and a clear idea of what you are proposing will really stand out. Also having an intimate understanding of platforms like Nintex’s Process Manager that you are you’re planning on promoting, and what they offer will help you highlight key platform benefits like effective feedback systems, easily integrated automation and high levels of team engagement. Talk to your software vendors about other organizations similar to yours and how they solved real life use cases and if they have any case studies, testimonials or statistics that can better demonstrate the improvements you can expect to see.  They might also be able to direct you to related independent research or comparison work that can help too.

5. Look to the future

Most executives have a passion for what they do, and a desire to make a long-lasting impact. Whether that’s through new markets, products, strategies or structures, those in executive leadership have one eye on the present and the other on the future. Align the improvement of your process culture with that sense of building something better for the future to bring their passion on board.

Implementing a culture of process excellence will make a lasting difference to the business at every level.  From business teams to strategic goals, continuous improvement contributes to success by consistently bringing more efficient and effective processes to the fore, delivering your business a competitive edge.

By engaging teams and supporting best practices across the board, process excellence provides the agility and velocity a business needs to create better outcomes for all stakeholders and offer executive leaders a tangible way to leave a legacy.

6. Start the conversation

For a secure executive buy-in for process improvement, you need to speak a language your executives understand. Know their passions, pain points and share with them a vision of something better.

By aligning with the organization’s strategic direction and describing the kind of future they want to be part of, you can pique their interest and start a conversation that will hold their attention. Share stories that will connect with their concerns, how others have experienced similar business pain and how they overcome it. Provide facts and present possibilities in ways they will both understand and embrace.

Even if continuous improvement isn’t yet part of your company’s vocabulary, by introducing process excellence in a way that will connect with your executives you will increase the chances of them taking it on board. Process improvement, from process mapping to workflow automation requires a cultural shift that is driven by the people involved. Get the right ones on board first, and you can be sure everyone else will follow.


Watch this on-demand demonstration to see how Nintex Process Manager and Nintex Workflow Cloud® seamlessly integrate to deliver end-to-end process planning, mapping, managing, and automation.


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