When you are developing a Business Case there are 3 main overall objectives that you should strive to achieve:
The Business Case should stand alone. i.e. anyone reading the Business Case document should not require additional information to accept the case put forward. The Business Case should be objective. Ensure that your personal feelings, prejudices or preferences do not pollute the facts and data presented. Make the case compelling. There should be no doubt left in the readers’ mind about proceeding.
To achieve the above you will need to focus the following areas:
Do your homework
Your analyses must be comprehensive. Research must be conducted and some reasonable, educated assumptions must be defined in order to clearly present the anticipated benefits. While factual data may be known, allowances must be made for potential variations. Sensitivity to these possible variances can enable you to more thoroughly analyze the possible results of the project or initiative.
This awareness of not only the “most likely” results, but the “best-case” and “worst-case” scenarios as well, is a crucial element in creating a compelling Business Case. With this information, CEOs can more easily determine whether the entire solution (or even a single component) is worth the full investment; even if all worst-case scenarios are realized. Failure to account for the worst-case scenarios can leave companies with substantial losses, and questioning how a project with a great projected ROI (return-on-investment) failed to meet expectations.
Define the benefits in detail
Within the context of a compelling Business Case, the term “benefit,” and all that it represents must be defined. The resultant impact of any solution, project, or initiative is termed a benefit when that impact is generally recognized as being positive for the company’s business operations; and ultimately the organization’s bottom-line.
A compelling Business Case will include details supporting each benefit (factual data, educated and reasonable assumptions, KPIs, timeframes, etc.), and will relate each of these elements within an anticipated financial impact (typically dollars per year).
If a CEO or Board member questions the purpose or inclusion of a particular benefit, the Business Case author must be able to quickly justify its impact on the company’s bottom line.
Clearly identify the KPI for each benefit – make sure KPIs can be measured
Make sure these KPIs are clear and most importantly can be measured.
For example, adopting a new desktop virtualization system will drastically reduce the staff needed to maintain your current IT infrastructure (benefit). But what is the KPI? It could be the number of hours IT staff spent maintaining the current server annually, or the average number of incidents requiring IT support. Without clearly identified KPIs, CEOs will not have the ability to determine the validity of a specific benefit, or measure the progress of an implemented initiative.
Clearly outline the risk of no investment (do nothing strategy)
Often overlooked, but just as critical in developing a compelling Business Case, is the “do nothing scenario” outcome. If the investment is not made, what could happen to the company’s bottom line? Could the company lose customers? Or market share? Could some future costs be avoided if the investment is made today?
To clearly explain all the potential risks associated with any given solution, project, or initiative, a compelling Business Case must not only include the possible risks of moving forward, but also the economic risks of not investing. These risks can include a lost opportunity to gain a competitive advantage, resultant fines from a failure to comply with licensing rules, and increased IT or operational and maintenance costs.
Alignment with the company’s strategic goals
A good Business Case provides a simple justification of a particular initiative or solution, often resulting in a positive ROI. However, if the proposed solution does not align with the company’s strategic goals, the ROI becomes irrelevant.
In order for a potential solution, project or initiative to be deemed “viable”, it must be aligned with the company’s strategic IT and business goals. For example, a proposed solution may considerably improve your IT operations, but at the same time, could confuse and derail current company operations.
A compelling Business Cases goes beyond ROI—it clearly explains how a solution is aligned with both the technology strategies and the business strategies. Demonstrating and ensuring this alignment will further the entire company’s ability to attain short and long-term business goals.
I hope these tips assist you in developing your Business Cases. Obviously there are many other things to consider to ensure that you develop a “bullet-proof” Business Case. In many cases it can be very beneficial to have someone externally review your Business Case before it is presented. This can identify strengths and weaknesses, its chance of success and prospective questions that might be directed at the author.
If you are looking for Business Case templates got to the Consulting Cloud website