Successful web projects writing a business case - jan 2012


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Tutorial on how to write a business case, as presented at JBoye 12 in Aarhus.

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  • I’ve written business cases for several clients (dozens over the years, more or less formal); I learn something every time; let’s learn togetherWhy = why do we need to write a business case?Who = who are the stakeholders?When = the lifecycle of the business case. It’s an active piece of content, not a one-off / fire-and-forget document.What = possible contentsHow much = possible value drivers for a web or intranet project, and how to capture themRisks and Success Factors = what stuff might come up in writing a case? How do you deal with it?I could talk for 3 hours, but you’d go to sleep. So instead, let’s have lots of hands-on – explore issues, and learn from each other: success comes from writing the biz case that works for your context, not from following a template… .But my aim is to throw out some ideas to help you…
  • Who are you?Where are you from?Have you written business cases / are you writing one now?Why did you decide to come on this workshop?
  • Get us moving / talking / thinking – this isn’t just me talking at you: you’re going to create the case study
  • Present back what you’d coverOpen up for group discussion
  • Discuss these with people – how do they apply to a web or intranet project?What examples do they haveUse examples from WIF, SIPP in each case
  • Use Ritual Dissent technique from Cognitive Edge for the teams to review and refineWork in teams to create refined business case (15 mins – with coffee / break)One person presents to next team (3 mins)Turn back and listen to discussion – what they like, what they dislike, what they don’t understand, what they disagree with (3 mins)Refine case (5 mins)Present and feedback (6 mins)Refine case (5 mins)Total = 37 mins plus handover times & etc = 40 mins. (Drop 5 & 6 if running late.)
  • Another person from team presents the final, refined case (3 mins to prep)Teams now role play the approval board looking at each other’s proposals. Give them a briefing (in the 3 mins, in parallel with above):To cut costsTo protect market share from new competitorWould you approve it? What works / doesn’t work in the case?Present and discuss, as before. (6 mins)Debrief in plenary – what does this tell us about approval?
  • How might you deal with these?
  • How might you deal with these?
  • Go into small teams to discuss what the contents might mean for their own contextPresent back what they might cover for their own context
  • Who I amIndependent consultantDo 2 things – help set up project (untangle complexity); help keep in touch with what’s going onUnusual perspective on assurancePortfolio of mid-size projects rather than single large programmeDifferent twists, but aligns to where many organisations are at, so will share experienceAgenda
  • Successful web projects writing a business case - jan 2012

    1. 1. Successful Web Projects Preparing the Business CasePreparing the Business Case 1
    2. 2. Agenda Introductions (10 min) Case Study (30 min) Why? Who? When? What? How much? (60 min) Case Study, Revisited (60 min) Gaining Approval (30 min) Risks and Success Factors Case Study, Applied (15 min) Close (5 min)Preparing the Business Case 2
    3. 3. Who? Where? Experience? Why?Preparing the Business Case 3 Alaskan Dude
    4. 4. What are the barriers?Preparing the Business Case 4 roy costello
    5. 5. Case StudyPreparing the Business Case 5 Karen Roe
    6. 6. WebCo Exercise (1) WebCo manufactures and sells WebStuff. It is divided into four divisions:  Production manufactures WebStuff  Marketing creates and distributes product brochures and other supporting materials  Sales talks to potential customers and sells them WebStuff  Operations supports customers once they have bought some WebStuff Being a thoroughly modern corporation, each division uses the web to support their activities:  Production runs a supplier portal, through which its suppliers provide information about the status of orders, delivery tracking information, invoices, etc  Marketing provides a range of product brochures, information sheets, etc, for resellers (via a private website) and customers (via the public website). It also runs a number of regional marketing sites in countries around the world.  Sales runs a number of applications on on intranet, which are used by sales people to record new orders, expense claims, etc. These sales people are on the road a lot, so they also value the company news and information that is provided through the intranet.  Operations runs a customer service portal. Customers use this to download product manuals, ask questions about their products and raise service requests.Preparing the Business Case 6
    7. 7. WebCo Exercise (2) Having been thoroughly modern for a long time now, the systems that support this are a bit of a mess. For example:  Product information is inconsistent across the various marketing websites. The versions on the intranet (often used by sales people) and customer service portal may be different again.  Creating a new marketing campaign can be really painful, as many sites and systems need to be updated independently.  It costs a lot to operate and maintain all the different portals and websites, all of which are on different content management systems, servers, databases, etc.  None of the web systems are integrated with WebCo’s ERP system, so all the supplier tracking information, expense information, etc, needs to be transferred manually. In order to sort out this mess, WebCo has decided to migrate all its web systems to a common Web CMS, and to integrate this CMS with the corporate ERP system. Discuss:  What information you would put into a business case  How you would gather and present this information  (Don’t get too bogged down in whether WebCo is adopting a sensible strategy, or exactly how you’d execute this strategy, except to the extent that this is relevant to the business case)Preparing the Business Case 7
    8. 8. Present BackPreparing the Business Case 8 Karen Roe
    9. 9. Why write a business case? Because we’re told toTo prioritise allocation of resources across the portfolio To create a framework for decision makingPreparing the Business Case 9 Patrick Hoesly
    10. 10. A framework for decision making Create a clear vision for the project Win meaningful support for delivering this vision Define measurable success criteriaHelp make good decisions as issues arise in the projectPreparing the Business Case 12 digitalrob70
    11. 11. Who Cares? Execs Sponsor and Project Board Project Manager Project Team Other ManagersPreparing the Business Case 14 pasukaru76
    12. 12. What you might care about… Winning people’s support for the case Getting their support as problems arise during the project Fitting your project into the wider context  How it supports organisational goals  How you build support from other people (or trade with them) Understanding what the organisation expects of you  Structure of case, when and how to present it Knowing who your allies and competitors are Finding potential mentors ...Preparing the Business Case 16 pasukaru76
    13. 13. Potential Contents Executive Summary Situation Proposed Solution Benefits (financial & non-financial) Impacts Alternatives Considered Implementation Approach, Timelines & Resources Governance Financial Analysis Risks and Success FactorsPreparing the Business Case 17
    14. 14. Executive Summary What issues do you want to address? What do you want to do to address them? What benefits will the organisation get from doing this? How will you do this?  Milestones  Resources – make it clear just what you’re asking for  Governance  Risks  Proof that you have a reasonable chance of successPreparing the Business Case 18
    15. 15. Current State Outline the current state Describe the issues / opportunities it creates Describe what impact this is having on the organisation  Increased costs & delays  Reduced quality (describe the impact it has on customers, if possible)  Opportunity to grow revenue, improve customer satisfaction  … Illustrate in language that works for your audience  Numbers, Pictures, Stories, Quotations, …  Scare tactics? (Can work, but can also be resented.)  …Preparing the Business Case 19
    16. 16. Proposed Solution What it is How it addresses the issues in the current state Again, describe in terms your audience understandsPreparing the Business Case 20
    17. 17. Benefits What will the organisation gain by doing this? Financial benefits  Highlights from the financial analysis  Use whatever parameters (ROI, NPV, IRR, payback, …) your org prefers Non-financial benefits  Align to strategic goals, as far as possible  How will these be measured How will they be realised? Who is responsible for realising them? Clear understanding of benefits adds a lot of weightPreparing the Business Case 21
    18. 18. Impacts Who will be affected by this solution? What processes will be affected? Are there any side-effects that need to be managed? Tell the story – how people will be affected?Preparing the Business Case 22
    19. 19. Alternatives considered For each alternative considered:  Describe the solution  How do benefits and costs compare to your proposed solution?  Why was it rejected? Work to your organisations expectations  How many alternatives should you include?  Should you recommend one, or just offer options? “Do Nothing” is always an option Socialise options with decision-makers beforehand  Let them steer & guide you as to what options to consider  Don’t surprise themPreparing the Business Case 23
    20. 20. Implementation Approach Timelines – plan, milestones Resources  Financial, human, specialist equipment, …  Total  Profile over time Demonstrate your ability to deliver the solutionPreparing the Business Case 24
    21. 21. Governance Who is responsible for the initiative?  Budget  Oversight  Benefits realisation Who will be on the project board? Who will be the project manager? How will this fit to wider governance & reporting? Some of this may not be known at this point…Preparing the Business Case 25
    22. 22. Financial Analysis Costs – total and spend profile over time Benefits – total and profile over time ROI, NPV, Payback calculations  Use the approved template (if one exists) Be aware of issues such as:  Capex versus Opex  Project versus operational costs  Planning horizon  Sensitivities  Role of finance (to support analysis; to review it before approval; …)Preparing the Business Case 26
    23. 23. Risks and success factors To the project To benefits realisationPreparing the Business Case 27
    24. 24. Tailor to your organisation Is there a defined template for business cases? Is there an approved format for ROI calculations & etc? Is there a required review process (e.g. by Finance)? What communication style works for your audience?  Numbers? Pictures? Words? Stories? Quotes? What are the current strategic priorities?  Cost cutting? Revenue growth? Focus on specific product or market?Preparing the Business Case 28
    25. 25. Four types of benefit Cost Saving Revenue Increase Must Do Strategic Lack of realism kills credibilityHow do these apply to your projects?Preparing the Business Case 29 miss karen
    26. 26. A business case is for life, not just for Christmas Idea Inform PID, Plan, Case Request Resources Deliverables & ongoing decisions Feedback Learn & & Refine Adjust Project Approval Initiate ProjectPreparing the Business Case 31
    27. 27. Keep the business case alive Idea Case Use it to steer the project Project Approval  Defining deliverables, acceptance criteria, etc  Prioritising resource allocation and risk management  Your time & attention is probably your most valuable resource As you learn more, check whether this changes the case  It’s OK to learn!  It’s not OK to ignore this learning… Work with execs & other stakeholders  Does changed context or knowledge suggest you need more resources?  Are there other blocks which need to be cleared?  Is the project still worth doing?Preparing the Business Case 32
    28. 28. Understand organisational timescales Do you need to align to budgetary cycles? How much notice and review time do people need? What is the planning horizon for financial projections? How are project versus operational costs budgeted? How quickly can the organisation move?  You may need to be patient Idea  You may need to build alliances or lobby Case  You may need to build confidence you can deliver (e.g. do you need to start small?) Project ApprovalPreparing the Business Case 33
    29. 29. Case Study, RevisitedPreparing the Business Case 34 Karen Roe
    30. 30. ApprovalPreparing the Business Case 35 Karen Roe
    31. 31. Gaining Approval ✔ Know your audience  Who are they  What are their interests & concerns  How these relate to organisational strategy and context  What info they need / prefer (numbers, pictures, stories, details, overview) Engage with stakeholders  Win their buy in  Learn from their expertise, experience & perspectives Don’t surprise them (& don’t be surprised)  Keep them in the loop  Bounce ideas off themPreparing the Business Case 36
    32. 32. What does approval mean?What can / must you do next?How long does this approval last?Which stars need to be aligned?Does it create additional requirements on you?Preparing the Business Case 37 Magic Madzik
    33. 33. Other Success Factors ✔ Treat the business case as a living document Set clear expectations Get feedback Focus on creating a clear vision for the project Remember benefits realisationPreparing the Business Case 39
    34. 34. Risks ✗ Surprising key stakeholders Fire and forget Focus on the financial case Unrealistic expectations on how much you can know Not fitting org context – not aligned to strategy & context Not fitting org expectations – wrong format, focus, timingPreparing the Business Case 41
    35. 35. Case Study, AppliedPreparing the Business Case 43 Karen Roe
    36. 36. Summary A good business case sets up the project for success  Builds meaningful support from key stakeholders  Creates a framework for decision making The business case is a living document Understand the organisational context  Strategic drivers and concerns  Key people and their drivers & concerns  Required structure, contents, timescales, etc It’s a political activity – it’s OK to work with powerPreparing the Business Case 44
    37. 37. Thank Cognitive Edge method used herein in whole or in part of a derived work is ©2012 Cognitive Edge (USA) Inc., is used under license agreement terms which can be found at
    38. 38. Graham Oakes Ltd Making sense of technology…  Many organisations are caught up in the complexity of technology and systems.  This complexity may be inherent to the technology itself. It may be created by the pace of technology change. Or it may arise from the surrounding process, people and governance structures.  We help untangle this complexity and define business strategies that both can be implemented and will be adopted by people throughout the organisation and its partner network. We then help assure delivery of implementation projects. Clients…  Cisco Worldwide Education – Architecture and research for e-learning and educational systems  Council of Europe – Systems for monitoring compliance with international treaties; e-learning systems  Dover Harbour Board – Systems and architecture review  MessageLabs – Architecture and assurance for partner management portal  National Savings & Investments – Helped NS&I and BPO partner develop joint IS strategy  The Open University – Enterprise architecture, CRM and product development strategies  Oxfam – Content management, CRM, e-Commerce  Thames Valley Police – Internet Consultancy  Sony Computer Entertainment – Global process definition  Amnesty International, Endemol, tsoosayLabs, Vodafone, …Preparing the Business Case 46
    39. 39. WebCo – Strategic Context The economic downturn means that WebCo is suffering from declining sales. Although it continues to retain (and even grow) market share, the general decline in the size of the market for its products means that revenue and hence profits are declining rapidly. Accordingly, the executive team has declared that all areas of the company must focus on reducing costs. Only projects which can demonstrate tangible cost savings should be approved.Preparing the Business Case 47
    40. 40. WebCo – Strategic Context A new competitor has entered the market with some attractive new products, meaning that WebCo is suffering from declining sales and market share. In order to respond to this threat, WebCo has started to develop a suite of new and improved products. It is essential that all marketing and sales activities provide maximum support to the launch of these products Accordingly, the executive team has declared that the company must focus on maximising the speed and effectiveness of marketing and sales. Only projects which can show tangible improvements in these areas should be approved.Preparing the Business Case 48
    41. 41. The Cognitive Edge method used herein in whole or in part of a derived work is ©2012 Cognitive Edge(USA) Inc., is used under license agreement terms which can be found at the Business Case 49