How to secure executive buy-in for process improvement success

Effective change needs to come from the top. When the executive team is at the forefront of your initiative for process improvement in your business, it ensures that the whole organization pays attention, and can make the difference between a well-intentioned failure and a secure executive buy-in.

Some of that success comes from the weight of their roles. If C-level executives are telling the process improvement story, business teams are more inclined to listen. That can mean positive changes in the culture, as those in key leadership roles demonstrate confidence in the benefits to the company of better processes. It also makes a difference in resourcing. With strategic support, the implementation of better process management, including tools and training, is likely to have the resourcing required to succeed.

So how can passionate process experts help their executives understand how vital their part in the process improvement program is? Executive teams already have numerous projects demanding their attention so here are five key ways to convince your C-suite that process management deserves their time, energy, and budget.

Set the scene

Process improvement isn’t just a trendy management approach. It has genuine, tangible benefits that should drive lasting change. Review what has gone before and what motivated those initiatives. Track down those in your organization that instigated process improvement efforts and get their input into what the goals were.

If you can’t call on the original process improvement drivers, take a look at the strategic priorities that currently focus the business teams. By matching process improvement to strategic goals, you can show how effective processes will be better aligned with the organization’s aims and that helps teams work more in tune with secure executive buy-in. Executive support helps embed this focus.

That means you need to concentrate on the overall strategies of the organization and how you can connect them with better process management. Think about the benefits of process excellence for the business, and how they serve the company’s aims. For instance, clearer, more effective processes will help business groups achieve the goals set for them, and a central source of truth provides cohesion and confidence for dispersed teams and different locations.

Understand their priorities

It’s hard to be passionate about something that doesn’t affect you, or that you don’t understand. If you want to bring executives on board, understand what they are passionate about, and 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 could mean speaking to the HR director about how processes will help manage the legislative requirements for teams in different offices across different geographic locations. Your head of operations would probably be more concerned about risk management though, so show them how better processes will provide controls for the various business functions. That won’t mean much to the head of customer success, who would likely be more interested in how standardization will raise service levels and reduce errors for happier clients. Understanding those distinct concerns and tailoring your pitch to match will vastly increase the impact of your proposal.

It may make sense to narrow your scope to one of these roles or teams at first. Rather than try to bring the whole organization on board, focus on just one business group or facet of the company, like HR, or IT, and win their leadership over. When it comes time to extend the mandate, they will be ready champions to support a secure executive buy-in.

Don’t hide the hurt

While everyone wants to be motivated by positive outcomes, we’re still more hard-wired to avoid negative ones in most instances. That means that, while executives want to hear about the benefits of better processes, knowing the problems that ineffective processes could cause is a legitimate path to getting their attention.

That doesn’t mean using scare tactics though. Problems need solutions, so your appeal will be at its best when you can identify challenges and present potential remedies. To bring executives on board, recognize 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.

Paint them a picture

Buy-in doesn’t come because of great rhetoric; it needs support. Gather the evidence that proves the impact poor processes are having, and what that is costing the organization. Against that backdrop project the potential gains of better processes, and the numbers that demonstrate how continuous improvement will benefit the business.

This is where good research and a clear idea of what you are proposing will stand out. Know the platforms you’re promoting, and what they offer. Highlight 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 use the case studies they have gathered to provide testimonials, referrals, and statistics that demonstrate the improvements you can expect to see.

Look to the future

Most executives have a passion for what they do and a desire to make a 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 an 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.

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

Start the conversation

For a secure executive buy-in with process improvement, you need to speak a language your executives understand. Know their passions and 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, both of the breakdowns within the business and of how others have overcome them. Provide facts and present possibilities in ways they will both understand and embrace.

Even if continuous improvement isn’t part of your company’s vocabulary, by introducing process excellence in a way that will connect with your executives you increase the chances of them taking it on board. Process improvement, from process mapping to workflow automation is ultimately 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.



To learn more about the Nintex Platform and how it can help you make process improvement, request a personalized demo today. 



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