How to build a business case for your IT requirements
When your IT systems aren’t performing as well as they should be, they can cause a range of issues, from slower processes to frustrated staff and even unhappy clients. In these situations, building a business case for change might not seem too challenging, but it’s still important to have a clear case to justify investment in new technologies.
It’s much harder when your existing systems appear to be working – measuring the “what ifs” of potential efficiency improvements and understanding the potential benefits of upgrading systems, which seem to be functioning well, can be much more challenging.
Whichever situation you’re in, building a business case for your IT requirements means looking in depth at the needs of your business, and undertaking extensive research to work out what is possible, as well as calculate likely return on investment figures, and identify any potential unwanted knock-on effects.
To help you find the best solutions for your business, we’ve created a guide to building a business case for your IT requirements.
Clearly laying down exactly what issues exist within the business is important, as solving these problems is the goal of the business case.
To gain a full picture of the issues involved, consult with colleagues from across the business, and look for common issues. Investigate the financial impact of these problems, as well as whether they affect the quality of the product or service that clients and customers receive.
Quantifying your problems by putting them into numbers helps to strengthen a business case. For instance, calculating the number of hours spent on duplicated data entry instead of dealing with customer requests, or looking at how poor data integrity is represented as financial loss can help you to choose the most effective solution by giving you a tangible measure to compare potential options against.
Building a shortlist
Once the issues are fully understood and clearly expressed, it’s time to look at what potential solutions are available.
An effective business case shouldn’t involve jumping straight to your favoured option – it also needs to compare alternatives to demonstrate why your preferred solution is the best one. Conducting research into a range of different options is vital and can help you to find solutions that you hadn’t initially thought of.
If you can, look at how other businesses have solved similar issues, and speak to a few different providers to compare their recommendations.
It’s also important to look at alternatives to technology-based solutions. Is there another way in which problems can be minimised, for example through more training or the creation of another role within the business?
There is also always the option of doing nothing and carrying on as you currently are. This is important to include in your business case, as it allows you to clearly demonstrate the financial benefits of your chosen solution in comparison to your current way of working.
Explaining the process
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to look at how your shortlisted solutions could work in practice. This is the time to arrange demos of different software packages, so you can understand how they might work within the context of your business, and speaking to representatives from different providers to uncover more appropriate or different solutions.
It’s important to fully cost your shortlisted options, as well as to work out realistic timescales, and analyse how they might affect the business in the long-term. This ensures that your business case is realistic and that you have a clear picture of what needs to happen, any short-term implications or disruption, as well as the long term impact.
From here, you can start to look at the potential return on investment of your preferred options and demonstrate how it will benefit the business. Being clear about the benefits you expect not only helps to make the case for the investment into your IT requirements, but it also sets the standards by which the success of the project can be measured.
It’s therefore important to be clear and realistic about how your selected solution will affect your business outside of the monetary benefits already outlined. Will your solution raise morale? Improve customer relations? Increase efficiency within your business? Minimise errors? The more specific you can be about the type and level of benefit you’re expecting from your technology investment, the easier it will be to build an effective case for change.
It’s also important to note whether or not your selected solution solves all of the issues you identified at the beginning, and take into account whether another solution will need to be found to address any outstanding areas.
Don’t forget to consider any potential negative consequences of your chosen solution. For instance, would the integration of more automated processes within your business reduce morale as overtime payments can no longer be justified? Will it mean redeploying certain members of the team to different departments, which may be an unpopular decision? It’s important to be clear about the potential issues that the solution might cause so that plans can be made to negate them.
Talk to the experts
Building a compelling business case can be a challenge. At TSG, we have a wealth of experience in helping businesses build a clear picture of their current situation, understand the issues they’re facing, identify solutions and build a strong business case for taking action. For personalised advice and support, get in touch with our expert team today.