Stakeholders who don’t “buy in” can stop a project in its tracks. That goes double for projects that involve change or perceived threats to the status quo. Lots of books and articles have been written about managing change, but for the purposes of this discussion around outsourcing NOC services, we’ll focus on how best to align your various stakeholders.
When you decided that outsourcing your network operations center was a good idea for your organization, you probably didn’t have much trouble with the cost justification. You did your homework and realized the real costs of a do-it-yourself approach were simply more expensive and suffer from diminishing returns. You knew it was time to outsource your NOC.
So you put together a project management plan, established a timeline and you know that the success or failure of the project depends upon getting buy-in from your internal stakeholders. Without it, you’ll never flip the switch and execute the steps necessary to successfully implement outsourced remote monitoring.
Hopefully you’ve got management’s endorsement to get your plan under way; however, as any leader knows, the troops have myriad ways of sabotaging a project, no matter how well thought out and planned. If they don’t believe in it, it will never succeed. So, depending on the climate, politics, and turf-consciousness of your organization, aligning the key players around your outsourced NOC services plan consists of 5 steps:
1. Identify Your Stakeholders
Get specific with a list and matrix of precise names and titles, then determine which type of stakeholder each person is: sponsors, financial decision-makers, strategic decision-makers, champions, derailers, influencers, implementers.
It’s a matter of knowing the terrain and the actual or positional power of those who can help or hinder your plan.
2. Get Stakeholders Involved and Uncover Their Needs
Make sure you listen to opinions and make stakeholders feel like their opinions were heard. Keep them updated on objectives and progress. You can sell NOC outsourcing faster when you frame it in terms of “what’s in it for them” and objectively demonstrate how upgrading network performance is an undeniably desirable goal for everyone. Keep good notes so that you don’t forget to address stakeholder concerns and objections as you move forward.
3. Anticipate Stakeholder Needs (and Avoid Surprise Objections)
People have obvious needs—job security, a sense of worth to the organization, etc. They also may have hidden agendas, which could, for example, involve the unique interests of their role or history of involvement in your IT framework. That could include trying to protect a legacy system, cover up inadequacies that should have been addressed earlier, retaining control, maintaining headcount or funding, or simply maintaining the status quo.
So, when dealing with stakeholders at the operational level, remember this: The more you know about your stakeholders’ roles, needs, and concerns, the better you can address them. Fear of the unknown can be a powerful roadblock. Often it comes down to trust and the sincerity when convincing everyone that outsourcing the NOC function does not mean giving up control or that people will lose their jobs.
4. Craft Your Messages
Once you know what each stakeholder cares about, think of the information and messages that will best resonate with them. Fill in the sentence: “They will benefit from outsourced NOC monitoring because …”
- Managers are keyed in on performance and how improving your NOC operations will benefit the bottom line of the business. Your message is this: Outsourcing the NOC will result in 24×7 coverage, improving our uptime and reliability, while also decreasing outages and stress on our staff.
- The finance people are concerned about costs and potential ROI. You must show the numbers that prove outsourcing NOC frees up assets for more valuable capital and operational investments.
- Your end-users worry about adapting to the new technology and alerting protocols as well as the aforementioned job security issues. You can address those worries through training, briefings, and effective communications: “Our outsourced NOC partner is coming on board, and they’re here to help you, not hinder you. Here’s what you need to know!”
5. Continue working on alignment beyond the initial hurdles.
Don’t forget to do pulse checks and address concerns you documented in step #2 above. Also, remember that stakeholder alignment forms the critical foundation for the success of any IT initiative, especially when you’re outsourcing services like NOC monitoring.
Let our experts help get you started upgrading your IT network operations. Contact us to start the conversation.