Securing the buy-in for Microsoft Power Platform pilot: main things to consider
A digital transformation project usually starts with inspiration, but also needs the internal stakeholder buy-in. How to pitch your digitalisation idea internally to secure the budget and resourcing, what questions to raise and how to get prepared for planning Microsoft Power Platform automation project?
In this blog, we would like to take an opposite perspective and try to step in the client’s shoes. We take an example of Microsoft Power Platform-driven automation that starts from a pilot exercise. The goal of the pilot is to test how automation can help to resolve a certain annoying and easy-to-crack issue in a short-term project. For example, building an approval system in SharePoint and consolidating approval results in Power BI can be a quick fix to audit trail issues.
Such a pilot project does not require significant commitment when it comes to financial investment and securing team resources. Selecting a suitable business case is a key to success. Namely, the low-code approach used for Power Platform development allows to build automation and analytics processes without programming knowledge, just using drag-and-drop interface. At the same time, it can help to gain valuable experience prior to the bigger automation exercise, as well as to secure stakeholder buy-in at the early stage.
Getting a fresh perspective from the start
Getting a fresh perspective on the automation opportunities within your company is ultimately important. Organising an “app in a day” workshop together with an experienced external Power Platform consultant is a great opportunity for efficient process analysis and digital upskilling of employees with various backgrounds (e.g., finance, tax, sales). It can help to quickly identify low-handing fruits, that is, easy-to-automate business processes that can act as a starting point for large-scale automation projects.
Based on our experience, following processes can be good candidates for automation:
- Document automation: a document such as an employment agreement or a sales agreement is automatically generated based on the user answers to standard questions.
- Process automation: automation of complex approval processes supported by streamlined stakeholder notifications.
- Reporting automation: automation of calculations based on the specified user input.
From brainstorming findings to the proposal planning
It is good to involve a digital transformation consultant early in the pilot planning process, even before sending out a request for proposal. An external consultant acts as a change catalyst that can “connect the dots” in the complex ecosystem and bring fresh perspectives to the company processes. A consultant can also provide extensive experience on the subject matters (for example, tax reporting or sales process optimisation).
Successful planning is based on a collaborative approach. During the planning phase, a consultant together with a client discusses the pilot goals, key expectations of the stakeholders, scope of the exercise, division of roles and the budget estimates. Power Platform can surprisingly bring significant savings, especially if you have required licenses already purchased by IT.
What questions to address?
- What is the low hanging fruit that Power Platform can crack? It is usually easier to find one bottleneck to address. Examples can include streamlining the approval and archiving process for sales orders, automating employment agreements or building a data automation process on top of the Power BI dashboard.
- Who will take ownership of the pilot project? The owner can take the lead in internal pitching of the pilot project, as well as negotiate the needs, scope and timeline of the exercise with the consulting team.
- How to gain a wider buy-in of the stakeholders already at the pilot stage? Showcasing pilot results quickly and iteratively through hands-on demos supported by the business case allows to quickly gain support from different stakeholders.
- What are the criteria of a successful pilot? Whose needs should the pilot project prioritise? Who will assess the success of the pilot and make a decision regarding the next steps?
Documents to support the budget discussion
Answering these questions and summarising them in the project one-pager summary (project charter) will support internal budget discussion and help to secure the buyer-in internally, as well as facilitate internal preparations for the automation project.
We have been working with several process automation use cases across various process areas. We would be glad to support you in looking for ways to automate your business processes using Power Platform.