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Supply-chain management depends heavily on science and analytics, incorporating financial data, benchmarks and complex math. But many managers overlook the art of selling the business case - the key to effective change management, Dominy says.
Despite a growing awareness of its importance to the executive suite, numerous obstacles stand in the way of selling the importance of good supply-chain management, he says. The facts matter, but so does the manner in which the message is delivered. The "art" lies in "how you communicate the linkage of this initiative, and how it ties to strategy."
Being a good communicator requires extensive preparation and hard work, Dominy says. Presenters should speak in advance with others on the management team and board. In the process, they can learn what's missing from their message, who might be opposed to it, and how they can counter resistance.
Whenever possible, it's vital to focus on an initiative's return on investment. Advocates should be able to define the current status of processes and performance, clearly identify the future state, and describe the benefits of change.
That can be tough to do when the benefits aren't easily quantifiable, Dominy acknowledges. But a difficult sell can be made easier through an emphasis on strategic alignment, emphasizing the opportunities associated with moving in a particular direction.
When it comes to projects related to risk management, that element should be factored into the discussion and made part of the decision-making process, Dominy says. Often a potential problem can motivate executives to fund a project that doesn't have a clear, up-front ROI, as was the case with the Y2K scare.
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