Making the internal pitch? Learn from the entrepreneurs

This article (see also here) led me to this next one (access limited by subscription, sorry) in Business 2.0, about making an effective pitch for a new business plan. The same tactics can and should be used when moving projects and initiatives forward in an “internal”, corporate setting. Bullets from the article …

  • Elevator Pitch – This is the 30-second project summary that you must be able to deliver flawlessly. It’s not good to babble, and it’s OK to aggressively summarize if you have some backup material …

<aside> … like a high-level “quick” Project Proposal. I’ve used this approach in the past; create a two- to three-page writeup that succinctly lays out critical information for the project. You should be able to capture, in the space of a few pages …

  • Objective(s): What are we trying to accomplish here? What is our ultimate goal? Not necessarily everything that must be accomplished with this project, but enough to give the reader an understanding how this will fit in with corporate and IT goals and objectives.
  • Vision / Future View: Here’s where you can engage in a little storytelling, get the reader thinking about what could be. Don’t worry, we’ll bring them down to earth in the next section …
  • Current Situation: The as-is, description of the opportunity / key challenges
  • Solution Direction: Proposed solution – discovery and documentation, RFP / solicit bids, call a meeting, etc.
  • Alignment with Current Information Architecture: Describe how this project / initiative / solution aligns with the stated Business and Technical Architectures (a Future Post!) for the company; which layer (Future Post!) the solution sits in, etc. Note that if the project proposes a solution that does not tie in to the architecture, we must call this out and explain why this deviation is necessary.
  • Resource Requirements: If you have enough detail to lay out a big project team and/or cost structure, you don’t need it here … this section is primarily meant to capture notes about super-high-level expectations, or current tasks that are being carried out for background information, etc.
  • Project / Process Ownership: Key – who’s got a stake in this project? Who will help drive this through? Remember, if this is not purely a technical / IT internal project, there must be business ownership – capture that fact early!
  • Assumptions, Risks and Constraints: Must always go into the project with eyes wide open. If there are none at this time, call that out – it at least shows you’ve thought through the big picture.
  • Success Criteria: What will success look like? How will we know we are “finished”? Not enough projects / pitches lay this out, and it’s a critical reason why projects seem to go on and on and on …
  • Summary of Benefits: What are the quantifiable benefits, and how will we be able to measure them?
  • Plan of Action / Next Steps: Now what? Ask for the order, go for the gold, engage the reader ASAP!

(… back to the article) </aside>

  • Realistic Goals / Market Analysis – should be based on stuff that is relevant to the business, and of reasonable scope. I like to go for a series of singles and doubles, no home runs (see also here). Note, however, that you should be building towards a reasonably clear vision of a future state (Future Post!).
  • Differentiator – this is just stealing a page out of product marketing, and can probably be related to the concept of relevance.

Remember, everybody’s a salesman.

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