Welcome back to the third and final week of our series on making your case to leadership for purchasing a QMS software solution! So far, we’ve covered the importance of changing the perception of the QA/Compliance team from the “internal affairs police” to a powerful ally in pursuit of organizational excellence and profitability. We’ve also talked about honing your pitch to make the most compelling argument for your specific organizational needs. If you missed either of these installments, you can find Step 1 here, and Step 2 here.
Today, we’re wrapping up with a segment on how to get buy-in from leadership and overcome some of the most common objections to funding a large software purchase.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to run a business? I imagine it’s a lot like being a parent. Remember when you were a kid and you just assumed that the adults around you had everything figured out? Maybe when you hit 20, 25 tops, you’d all of a sudden have an epiphany that would allow you to immediately understand how the world works.
Well, (spoiler alert for some of you) it turns out that the only epiphany you have at that age – or any age I’m pretty sure – is that those adults were merely struggling to keep it together themselves and doing their best to make you think they had it all figured out. I imagine being in a leadership role is a lot like that.
As you prepare to approach your leadership to pitch this great cost- and time-saving QMS solution, you have to understand that unless someone in leadership has a background in compliance, they are not likely to know much detail about what you do on a day-to-day basis and how critical your role is in the success of the organization. Of course it seems obvious to you, because you live it every day. They, on the other hand, are overseeing a bunch of moving parts and see the organization from a 10,000-foot view. It’s unfair to expect them to instantly see things from your perspective. You’ll have to show them.
The success of your pitch hinges on your ability to educate your leadership team on the regulatory pressure and scrutiny that the company is under. Moreover, you have to make them keenly aware (without sounding condescending or like the compliance boogeyman) of the risks and repercussions of non-compliance, which includes the loss of accreditation, which leads to lost business. Draw a clear line connecting the good standing with your accrediting body to the healthy bottom line of your organization. Increasing sales and output is great, but all of that is moot if the organization loses accreditation due to a few unnoticed gaps in compliance!
Here are four of the most common hurdles people face when trying to convince leadership to invest in a new QMS.
1. Leadership is concerned with the cost of compliance efforts and is skeptical that adding a QMS is a justified expense.
Of course cost is the number one hurdle! Regardless of what else is going on in the business, leadership always has one eye on the bottom line. Luckily, Step 2 in this series has prepared you for this obstacle.
Show the leadership team the ROI you’ve calculated using clear numbers. If you can get even more granular, break down some of the individual costs in your compliance budget and explain the value they’re getting for that expense. Explain how your team uses processes to avoid risk or improve efficiency while incorporating the numbers you’ve come up with. If you can do this and then share how that process can be improved, streamlined or error-proofed using a QMS, your leadership is more likely to respond well.
2. Leadership doesn’t understand the pressure and significance of regulatory scrutiny.
This goes right back to the beginning of Step 3. You will have to explain to your leadership team how significant a role compliance and accreditation play in the business. Consider walking them through a very brief overview of the standards you’re accredited to and maybe doing a little research and presenting a few articles about top trends in compliance or how other organizations in your industry are staying on top of the game.
3. Leadership isn’t fully aware of the potential risks and repercussions of losing accreditation.
Believe it or not, some members of your leadership team may see compliance and accreditation as “a nice piece to have,” but not a requirement for continued success. Using your best diplomatic tone, explain the consequences of non-compliance. Give some examples of enforcement actions and fines that have been levied against organizations like yours.
The prospect of potential fines may be enough to perk up the ears of fiscal-minded executives, but you can take it a step further and show that compliance is required by some of your customers. You can talk about the business opportunities that are currently in the pipeline that are contingent on maintaining your accreditation. You may even be able to cultivate a list of customers whose business would be lost if your accreditation lapsed. That bottom-line impact can be a jarring wake-up call that may just rally a skeptical leadership group to your cause.
4. Leadership is primarily focused on putting capital toward sales, production and output.
Leverage the power of the Qualtrax system to help your leadership team understand that a strong compliance record can improve all three of those objectives.
Sales can be improved with the added marketability of your accreditation status. The flexible workflow functionality, unique to Qualtrax, will allow you to streamline and automate processes that will give additional time back to your workforce, which will lead to a boost in production and output. One of our customers, for example, used to have trouble pushing new products through development and approval because the manual process was so time consuming that launching a new product was actually disincentivized! By building a workflow to manage the process, they are able to push new products through the approval process as fast as R&D can churn them out. The ROI from this small change is significant, but you wouldn’t immediately think of a QMS system as the solution that made it possible. The beauty of Qualtrax is that our platform has cross-departmental potential. An investment in the Qualtrax system is an investment in every facet of your organization.
It all comes down to this: change the internal perception of your department from adversary to advocate; be very deliberate in the information and examples you use to illustrate the potential ROI for your organization; and go into your meeting with a counterpunch for every foreseeable objection your leadership team might raise.
I wish you the best of luck with your mission! If you have any other questions about the Qualtrax platform or are seeking additional resources to add to your argument, please let us know! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.