It can often be challenging to put forward a compelling business case for a new tech project. Especially in uncertain times when budgets may be tight.
This 5 step process is designed to help you develop an effective business case to make sure your next IT project gets the go-ahead from the key decision-makers in your organisation.
It will give you the tools and confidence to communicate how your project will lead to positive business outcomes not just for your department but for the entire company.
The first consideration is - know your audience. Work out exactly who you’ll be pitching the plan to so you can focus on the right type of information to pique their interest. If you’ll be pitching to the CTO then your approach should focus more on the technical issues the project will overcome.
If the green light is instead going to be coming from the CEO, then your pitch might be more effective if you focus on how the project will ultimately lead to greater productivity or profitability.
Think about how you’ll be presenting the information in a way that will best hold their attention - and get their buy in. What kind of presentation will you be giving? How long are you likely to have to present the information? You need to think about tailoring the information accordingly.
You know that the project is important and valuable. But does anyone else? To have any chance of being approved, you need to be able to clearly demonstrate how it addresses a business need or issue.
Some of the clearest ways you can show this is to outline how the project achieves an opportunity, addresses a long term or material issue, or eliminates or minimises a risk. The bottom line is that IT projects need to deliver business value. Especially if it has a high up front capital cost.
The benefits of approving your project need to outweigh the costs as well as the effort and resources required. In other words, the project needs to be able to show a clear benefit for the time and money the company will invest into it.
If you can’t easily justify the costs of the project to senior management, the odds are strongly stacked against you getting approval. Some of the most direct ways you can show how the project is cost justified is if it:
Improves client satisfaction
Helps to differentiate the company from the competition
So you need to be able to find the information that clearly shows one or more of the above to senior management in a language that they’ll understand. Which brings us to the next important step.
Your business case should be specific to the project, so avoid anything too generic. It should include real data and examples of what the project will achieve.
Start with the negatives
This may seem a little counterintuitive but you should initially focus on highlighting the negatives of NOT pursuing the project. Detailing the negatives helps management recognise that there is a real financial cost to the company in not approving the project.
For example explain how not migrating to cloud hosting will cost X thousand dollars in increased on-site server costs. Or if outdated technology is causing a poor customer experience then be prepared to present the numbers from the latest customer surveys or testimonials indicating this.
Finish with the positives
Now switch focus to the potential positives. Highlight that once the cloud hosting project is complete you will be able to divert X amount of funds and staffing associated with on-site IT infrastructure management to other departments. You can draw attention to the fact that customer retention will increase by 10 percent or that an improved customer experience will provide a real competitive advantage for the company.
Even if you’ve prepared a highly detailed business case, without a strong delivery to the right audience you won’t be successful. How well you communicate the case is crucial to getting buy-in. Use the data you’ve compiled to your advantage but don’t forget that the real crux of the presentation is in communicating the business opportunity.
Present your case as a story and frame it in a way that isn’t just about asking for more resources and is instead about solving a problem. Keep the presentation short, direct, and limited to the key information necessary to show you’ve properly researched the need for the approval and funding.
Now that you have the project approved, what’s next?
So the audience was very impressed by the level of thought and detail you provided and the presentation was clearly a big success. Your request was approved. So what are the next steps?
At this point you should be ready to initiate the project. Will you need additional staffing resources to plan or implement the project? If you need to be connected with the best IT talent, a specialist tech agency like FinXL can help you locate and attract the best talent.