Making the Business Case: Identify the Solution
Previous articles in this series have focused on identifying solid business drivers and the creation of fact-based alternative solutions to address a business need. Now, the focus turns to identifying and recommending the proposed solution.
Part 2 of this series evaluated alternative solutions to addressing the core issues of the business case. Each alternative included a brief explanation of its approach and an assessment of its unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Now, it is time to present the recommended solution, summarizing key points of the alternative assessment. But the summary is just the beginning of solution identification.
The business case has three objectives: getting stakeholders to sign off on the investment of time and capital being requested; getting them to fully understand the scope of work and delivery schedule; and getting them to understand the proposal’s impact on operations and personnel.
To have this impact, the recommended solution must address questions about what is being proposed, how it will be implemented, who will be involved, when it will be delivered, and how much it will cost. "When" and "how much" will be addressed in the final installment of this series, but first consider the "what," "how" and "who" questions.
Managers can address the "what" and "how" questions as the scope of work, detailed enough to show an understanding of all tasks and activities. Also, managers should cast the solution in the context of its entire life cycle. In other words, communicate a clear understanding of this solution’s impact on upstream and downstream business activities and all potential touch points. A successful scope communicates a clear understanding of the details and steps, leaving reviewers with a comfort level that the project, with a plan addressing potential risks, can succeed.
The "who" question covers personnel and looks at people at several levels of the solution. Obviously, it addresses the project team, which must be identified and each role’s expectation noted. Since the project likely entails pulling people from other important duties, the nature and level of expected commitment must be clear.
The team also might include external consultants and vendors, so managers need to explain why these groups are included. Others involved include those from operations and the user base that will be engaged as subject-matter experts to support the project’s execution.
Finally, the plan must address the solution’s go-live impact.
In an enterprise solution, business processes and technology likely will touch every level of the organization. So managers need to address how they will handle communications, training, and transition activities – collectively known as change management.
Next in this series: The final article explains how to define both the soft skills and hard-dollar return on investment (ROI) related to the proposed solution.