The FM Professional

How to get C-suite buy-in for what you want in the budget

David Spence
October 17th, 2017
How to get C-suite buy-in

Pitching ideas to the C-suite can be daunting for a facility manager. Facilities management isn’t always seen as a dramatic revenue generator that can entice immediate profits. However, when done right, good facilities management is a cost saver that’s crucial to an organization’s bottom line.

Let’s take a look at how you might present an idea for software that can save your department time and energy. Imagine you’re having difficulties receiving and managing maintenance requests from employees, and you’re wasting more time organizing them than actually working on them. You want an office request management tool to help you streamline your process—to spend less time managing requests and more time fulfilling them. Here’s how you can get the C-suite to buy in.


How to speak C-suite

Executives have a lot of demands on their time and attention, so if you get to spend a half an hour with them, you should spend it wisely. If you’ve decided that space management software is right for your company, here’s how to convince an executive to see things from your perspective.

Pinpoint the problem

Members of the C-suite are busy people, so you’ll need to get to the point quickly. The problem you’re facing might have many complex facets, but you’ll need to get it down to one or two sentences. Communicate your problem in one easy statement—for example, “facilities management is spending more time trying to organize work orders than working on them, which is wasting several hours per week.”

Get employee buy-in

Before you even say the word “software” to an executive, you may want to consider talking to other departments first. Why? One way to get executives’ attention is to show them what their employees want. Perhaps workers are frustrated by having to navigate a large office building, but they don’t know that there’s a solution out there. In which case, the worker survey mentioned above could also include a section gauging their interest in the software. If the response is strong enough, it could be a good bargaining chip when you present your case to the executives.

Ask leading questions

It’s safe to assume that growth is a major goal for your company. Would the office really be prepared for all that growth entails, though? Like an influx of employees requiring a move to a bigger building? Or the need to keep the business operating during the moving process? With space management software, a facilities manager can see when a building is nearing capacity, thus preventing the problem of having too many people in a too-small space. The software can also help keep the move itself organized, by tracking who and what are still in the old building vs. the new building during the move. Furthermore, the software can also create what-if floor plans, allowing FMs to experiment with different office layouts. This can cut down on time and resources that may otherwise be spent rearranging furniture during the move-in.

Illustrate potential scenarios

Moves on a smaller scale can lead to lost revenue. Moving just one employee requires coordination between several different teams—HR, IT, maintenance, etc. If there’s a communication breakdown between any of these parties, productivity stops. For example, say HR notifies IT and maintenance that a new hire will be coming in within two weeks. Two weeks come and go… and the new hire’s workstation isn’t ready. One (or possibly both) teams forgot they needed to set it up. Software prevents this problem by automatically sending each party an email about the move. With this system in place, there are no unpleasant surprises, and no abandoning work to complete a last-minute move. Illustrate these scenarios to the C-suite to show them how advantageous what you’re proposing could be and how software could solve these potential problems.

Show them the green

How many floor plans do you have to print out each month? How often are they actually useful before employee churn makes them completely irrelevant? Software can solve that problem. It will give you a dynamic view of each floor, which can help cut down on the company’s overall paper use. Plus, reporting features can also let you see how many people are occupying each floor, so if you notice that some spaces could be consolidated and energy costs could be lowered, you can help the company save money.

Provide data

Provide data and evidence of issues

You’ll need to document the problem with evidence. To secure software that helps you manage work orders, bring supporting documentation based on workplace analytics. Track how your facilities management team is spending their time for a week, and then present the data. You’ll want to show for example that in a recent 40-hour week, 16 hours were spent organizing and managing work requests. Whatever the case, you need to have intuitive, meaningful real-time reports to support your case.

Present your solution

This is the most important part of your presentation. Don’t be afraid to be specific. In fact, the more specific you are, the more likely you are to get the results you’re looking for. Come out swinging and sell your solution on how it fixes the problem that you first laid out. Your pain point is that you’re spending too much time organizing work orders.

Show how a request manager could cut in half the amount of time spent on managing requests.

This could include better performance tracking tools, simplified request forms, or using your phone to streamline requests on the go. Whatever the case, provide them with as much information as you can.

Percentages are a language that executives understand very well. Give them numbers, and they’ll be more likely to get on board. How can you do this? Survey workers about how much time they spend on average, looking for resources like empty conference rooms, fax or copy machines, other coworkers, etc. Use that to estimate how many hours and dollars the company is losing because too much time is lost on the search.

Don’t let them forget about you

Follow up immediately and don't let them forget about you

You will need to follow up immediately. Keep in mind that information is solidified in different ways for different people, and you might be dealing with a decision maker who needs to see it in writing to understand it. Compose a concise but thorough email that outlines the problem again and effectively sells the solution. End your email with a very specific call to action, request permission to expend funds from your budget, or leave the direct link to where the software can be purchased. Make it crystal clear what you’re asking for and make it as easy as possible for them to make it happen.

Approaching C-suite level employees about a request can often feel like an intimidating proposition. But the more prepared and confident you are, the more likely you are to get what you’re asking for. Remember that this is ultimately about your company’s success and your participation in that. When you present money and time-saving solutions in compelling ways, you become the kind of leader that the C-suite looks on as proactive and essential.

For more insights into creating compelling arguments as a facilities manager, check out Making the Business Case for an Office Upgrade.


Photos: Shutterstock / UfaBizPhot, Shutterstock / Jacob Lund, Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images