Virtual agents are the next leap forward in delivering increased productivity. However, it remains a new technology, so gaining approval for virtual agent technology will require some preparation. You’ll have to make a pitch that proves this technology is a better investment than other options. Use this five-part checklist to raise your odds of success.
Before You Start, Check Your Credibility
In an ideal world, the technical and business merits of virtual agent technology would be enough. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. Your credibility and track record as an IT leader are crucial elements that affect your success.
If the IT department has recently struggled to implement new technology effectively, your proposal for implementing yet another new technology isn’t likely to succeed. If you’ve struggled recently, the best idea may be to deliver robust results for 3-6 months and then return to this technology. On the other hand, if IT has a great reputation and recent wins, you can move ahead with proposing a new technology project now.
Virtual Agent Business Case Checklist
In a few days, use these steps to create a proposal and discuss internally if it’s a good fit.
1. Identify Relevant Problems That Virtual Agents Can Solve
Technology professionals get excited by the potential of innovation. Everyone else needs some help in understanding the benefits. That’s why you need to find specific problems that virtual agents can solve. Based on research, the most common problems include:
- Employee frustration at not receiving fast IT support
- IT support burnout from answering the same questions repeatedly
- Audit complaints that your IT controls aren’t executed consistently
Action: Identify at least one problem that could be solved by virtual agents.
2. Measure the Problem’s Importance
Now that you understand the relevant problem, you’ll need to measure its significance. After all, if only 5% of employees are frustrated with long wait times, there may be other, more pressing issues to solve first. Measuring the problem will be easy if your IT organization already has robust performance metrics. Simply look at the metrics that have been missed or delayed in the past year.
If you lack internal metrics, you’ll need to look at qualitative measures instead. Reflect on recent meetings you’ve attended with executives. What problems have been mentioned multiple times? How are those problems holding back the business?
Action: Gather information on the importance of the problem. Executives are more motivated to solve expensive problems.
3. Create a List of Virtual Agent Solutions
In the first two steps, you’ve focused on the company’s needs and problems. In this step, you’ll look at the marketplace. You’ll need to create a list of 3-10 vendors that can provide the virtual agent technology you need. In addition to price, consider the vendor’s support, training, and specialization. For instance, if you’re aiming to streamline your IT security workload with virtual agents, choose a vendor with prior expertise in cybersecurity software solutions.
Action: Create a spreadsheet listing at least five virtual agent vendors.
4. Validate Your Business Case with Three Stakeholders
At this stage, you know about the significant problems and some of the options in the marketplace to solve those problems. Now, you need to share your findings with internal stakeholders. These informal touch points are designed to answer two questions:
- Do your stakeholders see the value in the proposal?
- What questions and objections do your stakeholders raise?
We recommend choosing a mix of business stakeholders and technology leaders for the best results. If you receive generally positive feedback, continue to the next step of the project. In the event you have negative comments from your stakeholders, your findings from steps 1 and 2 may be flawed. Go back to those steps to research them further.
Resource: If the human resources VP is an important stakeholder, find out how to win HR support for your project.
Action: Complete three meetings with internal stakeholders to gauge their interest.
5. Develop Time and Resource Estimates for the Project
You’ve made it to the last step! Now, you need to do some number crunching to flesh out the business case. Involve a business analyst or a project manager to help you provide input. As you plan the implementation, remember to set aside time for training and external support. Without those elements in place, your staff will struggle to make the best use of virtual agents.
Action: Develop your first draft project business case.
What If You’re not Ready for Virtual Agents?
Some organizations are risk-averse when it comes to new technology. In that case, consider other solutions to password management, such as Password Management.