Get Your Point Across to Management — Quickly22 Oct, 2014 By: Robert Green
Use an elevator pitch to get your management team's attention and help your users.
The Budget Corollary
When you ask for training time and new computers, the topic of budgeting is likely to come up. CAD managers often have the reputation of asking for expensive things and "wanting a lot" for their users. I've encountered this bias from my bosses in the past, and hear the complaint at client sites all the time. So, how can you make sure you're seen as being reasonable in your requests?
Suggested conversation starter:
"I realize that when I submit budget items it seems like I want a lot. I also understand that software, hardware, and training aren't cheap. But, please know that I will never ask for anything unless it will make us more efficient, so that our projects can be more profitable. I'm not asking for luxury items, I'm asking for practical tools.
"I'm fully open to cross-examination, and I welcome outside opinions on my budget items from anyone on the team. After all, my goal is to get it right."
Conclusion: By emphasizing that you only ask for budget items that save time, you'll at least be seen as business-minded and proactive. Your challenge will be to keep sending this message and showing results, year after year, so your management will come to see you as being reasonable in your budget requests.
The BYOD Problem
As more users join the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend — particularly for business travel — more and more critical project information flows through privately owned electronic devices. Smartphones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices that are not provided by the company are not subject to company policies. This creates a glaring gap in project security and standards that must be discussed.
My experience so far has been that senior managers don't grasp the technical details of the BYOD problem — until something really bad happens. What they can understand, however, is the enormous liability that these devices could present should information be lost or inadvertently shared. And, while nobody really knows how bad things could get, we can ask questions to start the exploration of those possibilities.
Suggested conversation starter:
"I understand that people want to use their own mobile devices, but we must be cognizant of the fact that we do not control these devices. How do we know what is being communicated outside of our normal hardware channels? How do we know that information isn't being lost? How do we know that information isn't being sent in ways that we're not aware of? I'd like us to review our BYOD strategy from an IT policy perspective before it blows up in our faces. If we ignore this problem, we are asking for a train wreck."
Conclusion: Admittedly, there is a little bit of fear-mongering in my conversation starter — but it's necessary to plant the seeds of doubt. I've found no better way to focus management on a problem than by equating it with potential liability. Your challenge will be to work through reviewing your BYOD policies so you understand how that policy will affect project execution.
Dealing with complexities day in and day out is what CAD managers do, but we must all try to remember that interacting with others who don't understand those complexities often determines how successful we are. After all, if your boss doesn't understand you, then you'll never be able to get the resources you need to be a great CAD manager.
I highly recommend you take the time to think about the key problems you need to discuss with your senior management team and fashion some elevator pitches that cut through the technical mumbo jumbo. I've found that these succinct conversation starters have greatly helped me in interacting with my clients' management teams, so I'm confident that they will help you as well.