Expert Advice rom Today’s Top Proessionals
Creating and Proving BusinessBenefts in Six Simple Steps
Is this a amiliar scenario? You need to get managementapproval or your project to proceed. In a panic, you look orthe last proposal you wrote—or get a copy o the last successulone—and use it as a template. To be persuasive, you rame thebenets o the initiative by advancing “the numbers”, believingit’s what the business cares most about.But here’s the catch: You don’t have a clue how to prove yourinitiative’s benets using “the numbers” because there areintangible benets that are dicult to quantiy in both the shortand long term. You struggle with determining the cash valueo “increased eciency” and “improved morale”. Plus, yourknowledge o the nancial actors afecting the return rom thisproject is limited—so even the value rom the tangible benetsis suspect. Your recourse is to invent numbers or the intangiblebenets and mix them in with the tangible ones. You do all this,all the while knowing ull well that cash is historically the leastefective predictor o project success.On the up side, generating costs or the project is simpler, andonce you have your cost and benet numbers, you can providea cost/benet analysis. However, since the benet numbers youinvented are qualitatively diferent rom your cost numbers,your analysis is suspect at best.Nevertheless, you persevere and submit the proposal. One otwo things happens:1. Your proposal is approved because the key decision hadalready been made. Writing the proposal was simply aninternal process requirement and it was never actually read.2. Your proposal is read but rejected. While it had manynumbers, it never made a strong case or pursuing theproject, so management didn’t ully trust the cost/benetanalysis.For the purposes o this article, let’s presume the latteroutcome. In a proposal, tangible costs and benets do needto be compared to each other, but many businesses are alsoseeking to achieve benets that are harder to quantiy. Forexample, “improved eciency” is valuable, but how do youprove (or quantiy) that value?Rather than start with the numbers, consider the real goalso any proposal:
• Clearly outline what is being proposed• Demonstrate the ways in which the proposal benets
• Make sure your proposal is understood by all stakeholders
(not just those with nance degrees)This is what’s involved in creating a successul business case,and it can be easily done using a simple six-step process called
Able Solution UK Ltd
article for this month addresses thefundamentals of creating a clear and persuasive business case. AuthorPeter Dillon- Parkin, a documentation specialist and business analyst,offers a six-step process for success.