How to Build a Winning   Business CaseAl Martine & Connie Giordano      TechWhirl.Com
How to Build a Winning    Business Case
Business Case                ExercisePresentations
Al Martine ∏
Connie Giordano
Who are U?
This workshop explores how technical  communicators can build the business case(s)needed to take a more active visible rol...
When you  think of a   business case, whatdo you think     of?
Common thoughts about Business           Cases
This workshop explores how technical communicators professionals can build the business  case(s) explain why some change a...
The business case       What      Business       CaseWhy              Who
What      Business       CaseWhy              Who                       What
What      Business       CaseWhy              Who                       Who      Who                    Who
What      Business       CaseWhy              Who                  Why (& How)
What             Business              Case       Why              WhoSupporting your argument     with good data         ...
 Gathering  Key Points               Discussion
 Gathering  Key PointsBrainstorming   organize                           Informational                           Intervie...
Why: Types of KeyPoints                     What                    Business                     Case             Why     ...
Supporting your argument     with good data          Gather Key Points          Collect Supporting Data          Analyz...
 How do we avoidbecoming overwhelmed    by everything?           Discussion
 Collect Supporting DataWhat         What do        Can YouAre Your     You Need to    Prove orBest Key     Believe to   ...
Data: Where do wefind it?                             Discussion•   Organizing information•   Consolidation•   Affinity di...
Data: Hard Data vs.AnalogiesHard Data                    Analogies/Soft Data• Internal Data              • Examples—Compan...
Supporting your argument     with good data         ☑ Gather Key Points         ☑ Collect Supporting Data          Analyz...
 Analyze and Organize                              Look for                              Similarities   AskReview        ...
Key Point:Going to Oz willmake us happierSo What?               What are•              the benefits    Organizing informat...
What are thebenefits of happieremployees?Guess…                What do I need to                      believe for this to ...
Data: Can we findinformation thatsuggests a Path?
☑ Gather Key Points☑ Collect Supporting Data☑ Analyze and Organize
✔Business Case                ExercisePresentations
Exercise                        Time: 7 Minutes | Group Work                        Business Case Topic: Given       What ...
✔Business Case                ✔                ExercisePresentations
The Pitch
What      Business       CaseWhy              Who
techwhirl.com | jobs.techwhirl.com | news.techwhirl.com                                                          45
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation
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LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation

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This workshop explores how technical communicators can build the business case(s) needed to take a more active visible role in product development and business strategy by speaking directly to management’s needs and agenda.

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  • This training is on how to build a winning business case. We will cover the general structure of all business cases and structured arguments. If you’re looking for guidance on how to show ROI, then you’re in the wrong discussion. If you’re looking to better understand how to decide if you need to provide RIO, then you’re in the right place.
  • We’re going to talk through the components of a great business case and provide a mental model on how to approach this in your work.By great we mean: EffectiveYou get what you wantWe’re then going to do an exercise to bring the whole thing together. If we have enough time, we’ll then talk through the keys to presenting it effectively.Presentation and credibility are as important, and in fact, it’s sometimes more important than having good numbers and solid data. BUT first, who are we and why should you care …
  • Before we start, it’s probably important that you know a little bit about us and if we know what we’re talking about.For me, my formal education includes WVU and a marketing / PR degree and London Business School and a MBA. I also had the opportunity to participate in Semester-at-Sea, which took me to nine countries around the world. This means that in under-gad I learned PowerPoint and FootballGrad I learned Excel and RugbyAnd Semester at Sea I learned about life.CareerFormative: Internship with the greatest entertainment company on the planet: The Walt Disney CompanyFirst five years in non-profit management / fundraising and events – raised over $2million US here and in the UKFour years in Management Consulting: Strategy & Change ManagementI’ve tried my hand at two startups / turnarounds with one of them doing well and the other one “failed to gain traction”This life experience allows me to provide a seasoned / hopefully well reasoned view of strategy, change management and product development.I’m passionately dedicated to creating awesome products and events and loathe, I say loathe mediocrity.
  • I got my undergraduate degree in Mass Communications about the time Al started the first grade, pre-internet and pre-pc. Many years later, I went back to school and received a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication, having passed through various life/career stages including layoffs and starting small business, which may or may not have made me more organized. I’m a writer first and foremost, a skilled generalist in all forms of business communications, with a penchant for strategy, creative problem-solving, and typing two spaces after the period.
  • Before we go on let’s learn about you. Who are you?Why are you here?What do you want to get out of these 55 minutes?[WRITE ON BOARD]
  • This is what the guide says about our discussion. It’s sexy and uses lots of business speak. In hindsight, we’d have provided a different description. But first, …
  • When we mention business case, what do you think of?What’s the confusing part? What do you want out of our little session?
  • Many of your points are similar to discussions we’ve had in the past and things we’ve felt. Business cases bring a good bit to mind and most of it isn’t good.Long process and complexLots of discussions around money and numbersThese things take a lot of timeOther main topics:ROI$Paper WorkProposalsStonewallingFinance PeopleEntrepreneurs
  • It seems pretty damn complex because often the language we’re using is too complex.Why do we do it? Ask after a couple drinks and I’ll share those thoughts. But, for now, let’s just assume that simplicity is elegance and elegance is understanding.We understand it when we can explain it easily.But, when it comes down to it, business cases are about creating a good argument to change somethingSo let’s have a second go at this …
  • So let’s have a second go at this …Here’s our revised definition that we hope you can carry with you anywhere.You want to change something and here are your reasons.I’ll say it again – business cases are just good explanations on what we want to change and why we need to change it. Almost always, they’re about convincing others that the idea will work and be successful (more money, more influence, happier)
  • Business cases are about presenting a reasonable and exciting view of the future that is / seems doable. The best and by that I mean, the most effective structure for a business caseclearly defines what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you’re going to get there. It speaks to the the needs of the right people: 4 points = heart, mind, spirit, and pathEveryone ready to jump in?
  • Business Cases are made up of three large components, which lead to a proposal, presentation, and/or elevator pitch. Once these pieces are assembled in a logical and coherent way you’ll be able to assemble whatever you need, whenever you need it. (topic based authoring, no?) What we want to accomplishWho you need information from and who you need to influenceWhy it is necessary to make this happenWhy they would want to make these changes (their best interest)What we need to find out to win their heart and their mindWhat will it take to make this happen (path)When it could happenWhere things will change and stay the same
  • The most important part of a business case: What you want to do.It seems pretty basic, but if you can’t clearly articulate “What” then you’ll have trouble doing research and forming a coherent argument on why you want to do it. This is an iterative process so as you build the case you may need to reviseI want to go to Go to Oz – why?Implement a CMS system – why? Move us to structured authoring – why?Revise our content strategy – why?Have a content strategy – why? What are some cases you’re needing to make?My Example: Bollywood® Movie CinemaCreating a business case for creating a movie theatre chain in the UKPitching to a VC who wanted the caseThey wanted the fancy movie theatre – large chairs, eat while you watchOur research showed that this didn’t workYou just can’t make money so we revised our initial want from comfy couch to nicheLarge Indian and Pakistani population in the UKBut zero national chains focusing on BollywoodSo we revised our case / our objective to rollout Bollywood Cinemas in the UKNEVER BE AFRAID TO KILL YOUR IDEA IF YOU THINK IT’S BAD
  • Now that we’ve discussed what you want to do, next on the list is who you need to for the case. In our opinion, Who breaks into three groups:Who do you need information from?Who do you need to appease / convince?Who is on your team?We’ll say this more than once today, but developing a winning business case is a team game. Sure, you can create the case on your own, but if you don’t have the political support to implement it then the entire thing is an academic excercise.
  • Plus, in the act of talking with people and learning their thoughts and ideas you may just find the answer you’re looking for to be successful.
  • Now, we know about What, and Who so our final, and most eagerly anticipated part is exploring Why. If you think about it, all of human progress has been based on people asking Why, not liking the answer, and then changing whatever they didn’t like. When we tell any person anything the first question that most often occurs to them after hearing what we want is to better understand why we want it. Building our cases is a process of answering the question “Why?” with some definitive statement and then anticipating what the next anticipated question will be. We do this over and over again until we’ve answered all the logical questions. Broadly speaking our answers to “Why” fall into two big groupsSomething EvilSomething GoodExample:We need a content management system (CMS).Why?Our published content has a lot of errors (why) because our writers have to remember every place the content is located and update it on their own. The CMS will be better.- why?Using the CMS our folks can update the info in one place and then the system will do all the work. Our materials will be updated faster and be of a higher quality.Next logical question – how? Let’s move into how we collect data to help answer the big question: Why this is a good idea.
  • As we mentioned early, we’re looping Why & How together because in a business case, as opposed to a business plan, the entire point is to win an argument. We’re not talking about the best person to play Superman, we’re talking about structured arguments. Yes, the same time that lawyers use in trials or scientists use in the scientific method. Declarative statement supported by facts and then countered with other facts.You suck isn’t an argument. You suck because you’re the slowest person on the team is better but too emotional.You’re the slowest person on the team because it takes you 2 weeks and your team mates 1 week is getting better.Creating these arguments requires you to find key points that support what you want to do, and then collect data that supports or refutes your argument. For this conversation, we’ll consider How you’re approaching the project as a key win theme to help argue Why you should do it. Key Points – Final analyzed / synthesized information that is part of your caseData – information collected to form key pointsAnalyze and Organize – Iterative process that occurs from the start of the process of deciding What you want to do.
  • Let’s talk about this –What are some good ways to find your key points?
  • Gathering Key PointsFor this part of the discussion, we’re going to keep Oz on every slide because it’s important that during this processYou keep your overall goal / the WHAT you want to do always at the forefront of your thinkingTo help with language, a key point is some definite statement, while data are the numbers that fit into the points. Start with Brainstorming and Blue Sky ThinkingWrite Down Your ideas and why you think this is a good optionOrganize a session with your team or people at your company who are great thinkers / creative / open minded to get more ideasWhen you’re done, review all of the notes and look for common themes or great points.Keep an eye open for killer – stop the tape points that WINs your argument or KILLs Your argumentWe want speed to results here so if you figure out your project is DOA then pull the pin yourself.> Use these sessions to decide who should be part of your interviewsAlso good to find out who knows their stuffWho could blow up your case> Use these sessions to decide what information is available in the company or creative ways to collect the dataWhat are some great game winning or losing points?Next, try to find key leaders in the organization and ask them to lunchUse these interviews to flesh out points or areas that were unclear in the brainstorming sessionAre there various ways to get to Oz – no, yellow brick road is it – okay, so we use itBy the time you’re talking with SMEs / Leaders you should have some idea on your data but use the interview to find out where data is locatedWill those leaders help you get the data if you’re not too influential?Finish each meeting and organize your notes – what did you learn? Is this still a good ideaDo you have enough great points to be done and move on to collecting supporting data?
  • Key Points come in three flavors:Those that help the mind (ROI, #, %)Those that help the heart (team building, reach the top of the mountain, beat the other company)Those that help others understand how we’re going to get there. (How) This stuff isn’t too touch and it’s in our capabilities.
  • Let’s move on from key points to their source – supporting data.Organization is keyGuess at your reasons Your assumptions / reasonsYour Team’s reasonsSME / Key decision maker’s reasonsUse as a map to gather data to support or refute your reasonsBuild Your Pitch
  • Q & A then …Try not to go into Data collection too quickly since there’s an entire world out there, and we really just need some limited information. With that point, however if you know that you can get a little traction with a great ROI number like the single sourcing one that is on almost every slide here then by all means use it to get yourself down the road but understand that a great ROI does not a winning business case make. Why? Because there’s more to it than a spreadsheet like addressing the fear that it’ll be a total failureBack to this point, your interviews and brainstorming sessions, plus your own thoughts, will most likely generate a ton of ideas but you have limited time. Please, please, please keep going through your notes to keep looking for themes narrow down your points to the best ones. Keep the other points to the side but start narrowing down your key win themes (points) so you can do targeted data collection.Boss wants to know ROI and time for implementation then go get / estimate ROI and time for implementation and skip the work productivity estimates. ####
  • Here’s a good model for vetting your key points.####
  • List time – where can we find data to support our points or to come up with better ones?
  • But what if the point is – this will make us happier? This is pretty tough so we’re going to need to think it through some more before we can go mine that data.You’ll find positive emotional stuff a lot of your initial work – why? Because we wouldn’t be suggesting it if we didn't’t think things would be better with those ideas out there. But happier is pretty woolly and fluffy even for our company poets (HR / Org beh. Types) and while it may win the heart, the mind is left wondering – huh?That means we need to dig deeper.Examples of Emotional Cases:#ilost#uselessassistance
  • Organization is key and will help you deepen your thinking on a subject like “happier employees”. Depending on your preferences, this may require another round of interviews or a little inductive \\ deductive thinking. Organize your notes into an outline and keep editing it until you’re done. Your first cut will be almost all educated guesses and then you will start updating it with supported / researched data (points). What You WantWe want these things becauseKey PointSupporting pointSupporting pointB) Key PointSupporting pointSupporting pointC) Key PointSupporting pointSupporting point
  • A handy approach for review and updating is to read and reread notes looking for similar points and group them. This is formally called affinity grouping and it’s really handy for all sorts of stuff, but here we’re just trying to consolidate a lot of information into more manageable groups. Once you’ve gotten through a round of grouping, ask yourself the question – so what? The answer can help guide you to the next round of research or even to throw out the idea because it isn’t relevant.
  • Back to our happier point– this will make us happierHappier is pretty woolly and fluffy and while it will rally the troops, it may not win over the CFO so let’s find some data. Non-fluffy data.
  • Digging deeper means we need to flesh out the idea more to make certain that we can say it and prove it to anyone and everyone. The more we push the idea to ensure it’s valid, logical, tight the better chance we have of making a winning argument.So let’s go through the process– happier is nice, but what do we think / assume will be the benefits if our employees are happier? For this point, the company is better off because workers are happier, what do I need to believe for it to be true? Maybe:They’d have lower absenteeism than miserable employeesThey we’re more productiveThey stayed with the company longer because they were happier (assumes miserable people leave rather than staying to make us all miserable)Other ideas on providing happier = better for the company?Then we ask – How can I prove it?If the answer is I can’t then move to the next point. More productive, pretty tough but lower absenteeism could be easier. Finally, who has the information I need or is there a way I can imply it?
  • One of the better forms of data that you can create and find is to support the key point: we can do this project with little difficulty by doing X, Y, Z.Outlining a path that shows the idea can be successful with little risk (or identified risk with a mitigation plan) is a great approach and something that is easily within our capabilities. A lot of ideas are killed because the decision makers aren’t convinced it won’t fail and bankrupt the company, make them look foolish, have them poked with sticks. Find the path and answer the question: This is doable? And for the most part you’re halfway to Oz.We can d this and here’s how … To key points and a good “here’s how we do this” and you’re often goldenFor instance, the fact I just shared that point, does this seem more realistic to you?
  • Review:Three Key Areas - data collection & planningEmotions Make them see the future RD examples from Made to Stick / Find picturesLogic This is your Data - excites the data people - Finance folks How much do we save? How much do we spend? time moneyPath We are all risk adverseHow are we going to get there that doesn't destroy ... The company Your boss's career Your employees careers' your career
  • One down, two to go.
  • Now it’s your turn – we have to be quick here so we’re going to take 8 minutes to create the skeleton casesAnd then each group will nominate someone to provide their pitchCmsStructured authoringSingle sourcingHire a new tech writer
  • Remember when we said that the world sees business cases as complex? And that businesses hate change?Almost as important as creating a good, well reasoned business case, is ensuring that it’s presented effectively. The first version of this deck had the presentation first but we figured everyone would want to explore how to create before how to present.
  • Our final part: presenting your points, let’s win hearts and minds while convincing key decision makers that it’s doable.
  • Earlier we mentioned that business cases are about presenting a reasonable and exciting view of the future that is / seems doable. So how do we do it?The pitchWe need to go here, right nowLet’s start with the end result of your business case, which is inevitably going to be presenting your ideas so some decision makerYou’re going to need a great pitchAnd convincing them that your ideas are correct 4 points = heart, mind, spirIt, and path> Change Management
  • Time to create our pitch. Our logical nature assumes that the data will win the day, but it’s almost always emotion that does it. Lower cholesterol by 50 points to avoid a 80% chance of a heart attack or see your kids graduate? Kids graduating wins every time. Personally, I like to lead with emotion and then strongly support with How we’ll do it and then backup with the logical ROI stuff. Sometimes, I don’t even put it in the initial ROI info in the main presentation but wait for the question and do it as a “Glad You Asked Slide”. Another point on the pitch – this isn’t the great novel of our day so don’t make people wait until the end. Use an inductive presentation for this stuff. Outline:Ground people in the subject with some non-confrontation point everyone will agree withTell them what you want and support with the key points on why it’s a great ideaKey Point 1 (emotional with strong evidence) Key Pont 2 (next big point, probably How we’ll do it with little or mitigated risk)Key Point 3 (probably analytical stuff or put it in the middle so you have a strong finish)Elaborate on your key pointsKey Point 1Key Point 2Key Point 3Conclusion
  • You’ll need to with their heart (emotional appeal)Find things that reach the emotions like Twitter Hashtags that love something you want to develop or hate something you have a way to solve.Print out all the places your “About Us Page” appears and have them in different colors on the table – explain that with single sourcing these would all be in one place.Show all the errors or differences in your branding because there’s no CMS. Find a way to get them emotional…Or, show that your competitor is already doing it.
  • Winning the mindThe point most of think about for a business case …Mind (good data / we’ll be 4x faster, lower customer service calls by 20%, high customer satisfaction)Who are these people in our companies?FinanceMarketingThat prick in the PMO??
  • It’s not always the friendliest scarecrow is it?Nope so we better have our big boy and girl pants on when we’re trying to make our caseOur companies run on numbers/ profits so we better be able to bring good quantitative reasons even if that’s not the main driver of change.Emotions vs Analytics – which is more powerful?I want to lose 10 pounds because my cholesterol is too highI want to look good for my 20 year reunion … Mind or heart at 10 pm and you want a snack??
  • The final aspect of our business case will be some language on how we’re going to get thereThis is the path / the roadIf I give you some guidance on the road we’re taking then you’re more confortable that I know what I’m doing …Build a road …We need to go to Ozwhat is the first thing you think?
  • However, right behind or in front of emotions in change and casesHaving the intestinal fortitude to pull it offReal changerequires dedication and dedication.
  • Review:Business case: Three Key Areas - data collection & planningEmotions Make them see the future RD examples from Made to Stick / Find picturesLogic This is your Data - excites the data people - Finance folks How much do we save? How much do we spend? time moneyPath We are all risk adverseHow are we going to get there that doesn't destroy ... The company Your boss's career Your employees careers' your careerThen present it in an effective manner.
  • If you’re not familiar with TechWhirl… what’s the matter with you? Seriously, what started out as an email discussion list 19 years has become a network of websites AND an email discussion list dedicated to the art and science of technical and business communications.
  • LavaCon Conference Business Case Presentation

    1. 1. How to Build a Winning Business CaseAl Martine & Connie Giordano TechWhirl.Com
    2. 2. How to Build a Winning Business Case
    3. 3. Business Case ExercisePresentations
    4. 4. Al Martine ∏
    5. 5. Connie Giordano
    6. 6. Who are U?
    7. 7. This workshop explores how technical communicators can build the business case(s)needed to take a more active visible role in product development and business strategy by speaking directly to management’s needs and agenda.
    8. 8. When you think of a business case, whatdo you think of?
    9. 9. Common thoughts about Business Cases
    10. 10. This workshop explores how technical communicators professionals can build the business case(s) explain why some change at their company is needed to take a more active visible role in product development and business strategy and then convince the key decision makers that thisidea is the right one directly to management’s needs and agenda by ensuring they’re answering their questions with good reasons. Read: How to Get What You Want Through Structured Arguments
    11. 11. The business case What Business CaseWhy Who
    12. 12. What Business CaseWhy Who What
    13. 13. What Business CaseWhy Who Who Who Who
    14. 14. What Business CaseWhy Who Why (& How)
    15. 15. What Business Case Why WhoSupporting your argument with good data  Gather Key Points  Collect Supporting Data  Analyze and Organize
    16. 16.  Gathering Key Points Discussion
    17. 17.  Gathering Key PointsBrainstorming organize Informational Interviews • You • Directly Impacted • Your Team • Indirectly Impacted • Decision Makers
    18. 18. Why: Types of KeyPoints What Business Case Why Who
    19. 19. Supporting your argument with good data  Gather Key Points  Collect Supporting Data  Analyze and Organize
    20. 20.  How do we avoidbecoming overwhelmed by everything? Discussion
    21. 21.  Collect Supporting DataWhat What do Can YouAre Your You Need to Prove orBest Key Believe to Imply It ?Points? Make These Points True?
    22. 22. Data: Where do wefind it? Discussion• Organizing information• Consolidation• Affinity diagrams• Still a good idea?
    23. 23. Data: Hard Data vs.AnalogiesHard Data Analogies/Soft Data• Internal Data • Examples—Company• Customer Service Our Size Feedback • Organizing information • #YourCompanySucks• • Estimations – Consolidation • Unrelated Project but • Affinity diagrams • Directionally Correct Still a good idea? Commonality (How Many ‘000s?)
    24. 24. Supporting your argument with good data ☑ Gather Key Points ☑ Collect Supporting Data  Analyze and Organize
    25. 25.  Analyze and Organize Look for Similarities AskReview & Group YourselfYour Notes Your – So • Organizing information • • Consolidation Affinity diagrams Results What? • Still a good idea?
    26. 26. Key Point:Going to Oz willmake us happierSo What? What are• the benefits Organizing information• Consolidation•• of happier Affinity diagrams Still a good idea? employees?
    27. 27. What are thebenefits of happieremployees?Guess… What do I need to believe for this to be true?• Lower Absenteeism Who has• More Productive the data or• Less Turn Over How Can I how can I imply it? Prove It?
    28. 28. Data: Can we findinformation thatsuggests a Path?
    29. 29. ☑ Gather Key Points☑ Collect Supporting Data☑ Analyze and Organize
    30. 30. ✔Business Case ExercisePresentations
    31. 31. Exercise Time: 7 Minutes | Group Work Business Case Topic: Given What Develop a skeleton business case for the topics given to you. Please brainstorm possible good Business reasons. One should target the Case heart, the second the head and the final point should discuss how to getWhy Who there. Discuss and note where you could gather data to support your key points. Nominate one person to pitch your case and we’ll discuss.
    32. 32. ✔Business Case ✔ ExercisePresentations
    33. 33. The Pitch
    34. 34. What Business CaseWhy Who
    35. 35. techwhirl.com | jobs.techwhirl.com | news.techwhirl.com 45
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