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Support from the Top


by Tara Swords, August 2014

The biggest key to success in the Harrah’s project was executive support, says James Caldwell, director of information technology and risk control at Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Casino.

The executive team attended meetings and contributed to decisions. They rallied end users to get involved and share their opinions. They adjusted schedules multiple times to help the project stay on track, closely monitoring deliverables and motivating their teams to deliver on time.

“Without that support on a project of this scale, it will inevitably fail or have significant repercussions,” Caldwell says. “Everybody here was onboard and moved forward together.”

Caldwell shares some of his tips for obtaining executive buy-in:

Show them the money. The need to invest in IT is often overlooked or delayed. If you can demonstrate the measurable benefits of an investment—improved profitability, cost savings, or improved customer experience—you’ll get buy-in.

Sell it honestly. Quantify the value, but be willing to discuss the cost and commitments needed to get there.

Remember time is money. Keep meetings short, effective, and organized. Have goals before each meeting and results after.

Communicate. Let everyone know what’s working, what isn’t, who’s going above and beyond, and who is slowing the project down.

Be a team player. In larger businesses that already operate at a high level of efficiency, you have to be willing to meet the executives on their turf. Put in the face time.

Follow up relentlessly. Be the driving force of the project and let others know that you will not rest until you get an answer or action.

Tara Swords is a freelance writer based in Chicago, Illinois.

 
 
Snapshot
Snapshot James Caldwell
  • Director of Information Technology and Risk Control
  • Length of tenure: 18 years
  • Education: BS/BA in accounting and corporate finance, Western Carolina University; Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute
  • Personal quote/mantra: “There’s a difference between standing up and telling people what you’re planning to do and standing up and going and accomplishing something.” —Paul Stanley
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