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**Editor’s Note: This article appears in the December print edition of the ebizQ Buyer’s Guide, available as a supplement to the Business Integration Journal.

Sometimes, the most critical enterprise integration challenges are cultural and political, not technological. Many IT executives can easily identify business drivers behind specific current or desired initiatives. However, some encounter varying, sometimes significant objections to those initiatives. IT executives therefore frequently request assistance from us in "marketing" and "selling" initiatives internally in consistently effective ways. Below are some specific recommendations based on best practices that are working at numerous companies.

Marketing and sales skills may seem at first irrelevant to IT executives. However, many such executives are at enterprises where IT budgets are flat, growing by only 1 to 2 percent annually, or shrinking. Also, IT executives frequently face what is effectively competition from outsourcing. In addition, IT initiatives are often perceived by those outside of IT as large expenditures with little demonstrable business benefit, if any. To succeed under such conditions, RFG recommends that IT executives learn and adapt effective marketing and sales techniques.

IT executives should begin from the basic assumption that for every IT initiative, all enterprise constituents can be collected into at least one of three groups – influencers, practitioners and stakeholders. Influencers influence budgets and other factors surrounding each initiative. Practitioners include those within and beyond IT tasked with making each initiative work. Stakeholders are any and all constituents affected by each initiative and its results. IT executives should ensure that all outreach and "promotional materials" supporting every initiative addresses the concerns and proclivities of all three groups, to maximize the likelihood of "buy-in" and "sign-off," and minimize the likelihood of active or passive sabotage.

To achieve these goals, IT executives should adopt a "CPR" approach, where "C" stands for "culture," "P" for "process," and "R" for "relevant technologies," listed in order of priority. In other words, IT executives should address all known and suspected cultural issues affecting influencers, practitioners, and stakeholders in every outreach effort. These issues should help to shape policies, practices and procedures, including those used to assess, compare, and deploy relevant technologies. As one RFG client put it, "culture eats process for lunch" at most enterprises. Cultural issues can range from basic "FUD" ("fear, uncertainty, and doubt") to outright hostility between individuals or factions within and/or outside of IT. Failure to identify and address these effectively can kill an IT initiative before its proponents ever get to evaluate potentially relevant technologies.


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