How to convince your IT department to buy the software you need to do your job

Getting a group of people to agree on a place for lunch can be difficult, so convincing your IT department to spend potentially thousands on new software might seem like an impossible task.

For you, the case for buying new software is likely crystal clear. It would help you to automate manual processes and inefficient workflows, enable easier collaboration between siloed teams and applications, and would help you and your employees to make better business decisions based on real-time data.

For IT departments, however, the decision isn’t so easy, and they will see a number of barriers to investing in new software. These include apprehension about downtime or the learning curve while implementing new technology, return on investment concerns, and internal disagreements over the software buying process. IT manager Michael Dear touches upon these very issues in his article about convincing him to buy products and services.

Signing off on a software investment is also typically a complex process. According to analyst house Gartner, there can be as many as ten people involved in business-to-business buying decisions.

“The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to ten decision makers‚ each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group,” Gartner stated. “At the same time, the set of options and solutions buying groups can consider is expanding as new technologies, products, suppliers, and services emerge.”

With that in mind, it’s crucial that when pitching a software investment to your IT department, you’re armed with all of the information you need to make the best case possible about why a software upgrade should be at the top of the list of business priorities.

Be concise

We’re all strapped for time, so presenting a clear, concise elevator pitch. That is, a quickly delivered description of a concept that will entice your boss to follow up for more information. As a first step to getting software buy-in, be sure to cover the following points:

  • The most critical business pain points the new software can address. For example, if your business currently relies on legacy systems and siloed processes that make data management a slow, labour-intensive, and often costly process, explain this clearly.
  • How software would help. Quickly describe how software, be it a CRM solution or hyperautomation platform, would help the business to overcome these issues. For example, the use of modern communications platforms could help improve data-sharing across the organisation.
  • Why the software you selected is the best option. There’s no need to cover the technical ins and outs of the software at the top of your wishlist, but it can help to present quick examples of positive reviews and case studies. You could also explain how it works with your current software, and any notes on the ease of implementation, user experience, support and training.

Let the numbers do the talking

Many IT leaders and business decision makers are numbers people. They will want to be able to quantify the benefits behind buying decisions, especially if it involves spending a lot of money on a software modernisation project.

That’s why it’s important that you talk in their language when pitching for software buy-in. Calculate the return on investment (ROI), thought to be one of the most important metrics in the business world, and demonstrate how much money the organisation will save by embracing your software of choice.

In many cases, the right software can save a business at least one, if not several, salaries. This means that you could, for example, demonstrate to your bosses that you won’t need to hire anyone new for the foreseeable future.

You can also emphasise that it means using talents of your existing employees in better ways instead of paying them to do things like manually enter information in multiple solutions.

Anticipate roadblocks

While cost tends to be the biggest barrier to convincing IT departments to spend money, another major concern among buyers is the potential roadblocks ahead, be it extended periods of downtime or the need to offer hours of training to unskilled employees.

That’s why it’s important that you highlight these potential roadblocks as part of your elevator pitch, and have a plan in place to address them.

Enlist Support & work out your ending

If your colleagues are also onboard with your pitch for a software upgrade, get them to back you up. Strength in numbers helps your credibility and your cause, and when more than one voice advocates for a potential IT upgrade, the pitch will be better received by your boss. This is truer if you’re able to enlist a supervisor or manager from your department to help make the case.

It’s important that you end your pitch with a concise, competitive argument. For example, you could name-drop competitors that are using the software to their benefit or end your pitch by presenting any major cost savings or revenue gains the technology could bring to the company.

Schedule a demo

If you’ve done a good job pitching to your IT department, the next step will be scheduling a demo so that they can see the software in action. Both in-person and online demonstrations give you and your bosses the opportunity to witness first hand how intuitive the software is to use and get to know some of the common processes. Before the demo, prepare specific questions about usability, integration, and training for the vendor.

Carly Page
Carly Page

Carly is a freelance technology journalist and editor with a long string of credits to her name. Her bylines include Forbes, IT Pro, The Metro, Stuff, TechCrunch , TechRadar, TES, Uswitch and WIRED.
She has written about collaboration and innovation for TechFinitive.