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In trying to promote Information Technology innovative ideas, selling is needed:
(1) For the CIO (Chief Information Officer) who has to make all personnel and elected officials aware of the need to believe that the innovation will result in greater efficiency and a positive ROI.
(2) To try to determine the validity when sales (marketing) people want to sell hardware, infrastructure, maintenance, and a host of other products that can fit into one major endeavor and that need to be shared across your entire agency/organization.
Some Ideas a CIO Needs to Sell to Elected Officials and Organization Personnel
a. A CIO or IT Manager cannot run an organization without people who are skilled once an innovation project is started. This includes training to give the personnel how to best function with their new systems.
b. Client satisfaction is one of the outcomes you are able to deliver. Employees are also benefitted by finding and relating facts to the client(s) right away as their new computerized information for the most part is “on demand”.
c. Strategic Plan – Part of this plan is to learn what the present problems of the organization are by including most everyone. My experience has taught me that information problems are in the top tier. Trying to find the right paper scattered everywhere or possibly even misfiled is very frustrating. The employee and managers feel awkward in not being able to respond more quickly.
d. Efficiency – The plan offers efficiency by being able to share data across one operating system and multiple data bases. Imagine working in a government organization and a citizen calls you about a problem. You are able to quickly to find the documents needed and give the client(s) a quick solution to their problem. You are even able to tell them on your interactive website how to find it the next time through a logical sequence of a few clicks.
e. Cost and a Positive Return on Investment –Costs are lowered and a hike in revenue is gotten showing a positive ROI (return on investment). The cry today by citizens/clients and elected officials is to look for better ways of cutting costs. Many feel the only way is by laying off personnel, forcing retirements and raising taxes. An option may also be to seriously consider new systems.
f. RTC (Resistance to Change Factor) – As a former senior level CIO, and manager, this was one of the biggest problems that I experienced and had a hard time dealing with. To this day I have to admit I have not found a good solution(s).
There are people in every organization who just do not want to change. Even after every effort has been made to answer their questions, assure them their job will not be lost but will be made more efficient and enjoyable, they persist in challenging you at the beginning stages mainly in front of other employees. The goal is to deep six (kill) the proposed plan and keep the office the same it has been for the past 10 to 30 years.
I have been forced, much to my dismay, to call the person(s) in for a private meeting and tell them that their conduct is not what is expected and unless they give the system once implemented a chance to work, they need to find another job more suitable to their present work needs.
Sales/Marketing Personnel Meeting With You to Buy Products
With over 25 years in the Information Technology arena, I have met many sales people. Unfortunately, I have learned from experience to be careful as to what is said and what can be delivered. Sometimes, I was able to determine readily that the person I was speaking to would sell me the Capitol dome if they could, and just thank them and cut off the meeting.
I look at myself as a very honest, ethical and highly motivated person. Therefore, I have a real problem with anyone who is not interested in what an organization does and how their product can offer to me more efficiency. A CIO should not just be looking for the cheapest product (s) but for the product that can yield a more efficient overall system.
My recommendation is once you see what the product is, for example virtual terminals or VM (virtual memory) disk storage, call the agencies having the product and see over the phone if a trip would be worthwhile after asking a series of questions. If trip(s) would be good, go to a few locations where others can tell you and show you how the product works and you can see for yourself if the product would fit into your system environment and strategic plan and give a positive return on investment (ROI).
DO NOT just buy any product because you are given a good sales pitch, as I have found that in most cases the salesperson will not be there after 2 to 4 years and even if you call him/her while they are still with the company they may tell you to call an 800 number and speak to support as they are out of the loop per company policy. Always remember, most salespeople are paid on commission and have quotas to make and will sell to meet those quotas.
My feeling was always to look for salespeople who were interested in me and my reputation to provide quality systems with a positive ROI and be honest with his/her evaluation of what can be offered not what is the highest commission sale. Once I found that person he/she would be the one(s) I would always call back for future opportunities.
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Next Week – Paper on Demand (Green) Systems
Robert Morrison has extensive experience both in management and information technology. He feels that government is actually big business and both must conduct itself in similar ways. He is a former CIO, Deputy Business Administrator and Deputy Public Safety Director in the local government sector. He is also a member of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of ASPA (American Society for Public Administration).
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