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Getting Management Buy-In

If your RFID initiative is stalled in the executive suite, peer-to-peer support can help you move forward.
By Mike Meranda
Oct 01, 2006—You've followed the trends and done the research. You've studied your business and identified the opportunity. You see the value in deploying RFID. Now comes the biggest challenge: going into the executive suite and selling it to your company's management.

Many members of the EPCglobal community whose companies have adopted Electronic Product Code technology told me that gaining the support of management was more of a challenge than their actual implementation. While this might be a bit of an exaggeration, there is no doubt that getting management commitment is no easy task.

As with any new business innovation, many companies are reluctant to be "the first." They take a wait-and-see strategy, holding off until other industry leaders—usually the competition—adopt the technology. Another challenge is change resistance. Many companies believe that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But these companies end up playing a frantic game of catch-up, while their competitors who embraced change capture market share.

To help companies overcome these internal challenges, we have been working as intermediaries to bring together prospective users and early adopters who have rolled up their sleeves and implemented EPC technology. Some EPC users—from supply-chain professionals on the front lines to senior managers—see it as part of their responsibility to share their insights, either through a phone call or an on-site visit, with those seriously looking at the technology. As a result, companies are getting real-world advice, and they have told us this has helped their leadership recognize the need to be involved with EPC.

Early adopters have developed a set of best practices to help companies gain support for their RFID initiatives. One of the most important steps they recommend is to align your business case with your industry. There are a variety of uses for RFID, and industry groups within the EPCglobal community have defined the applications that make the most sense for companies. Many prospective companies that reached out to their industry colleagues were able to align and refine their own business case, which made it easier to gain management support.

EPCglobal subscribers also say that the most effective way to make the case for EPC with management is the cross-functional team approach. When key departments within a company—from business to technology—are united and focused on putting RFID to work, it presents a stronger case to their senior management.

It's also important to involve your trading partners. When you can show management that the technology improves collaborative processes beyond your own four walls, it creates an even more compelling story, and it demonstrates a commitment to the project.

Indecision is a business trait few companies can afford, particularly when new innovations such as EPC can have an impact on a company's competitive capabilities. If you approach senior management with a business case and strategy that is clear and concise and has a comprehensive team approach, you'll be well on your way to moving EPC out of the executive suite and into your supply chain. If you need peer-to-peer support, contact EPCglobal US through our Web site.

Mike Meranda is president of EPCglobal US. Illustration by Phil Bliss.
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