A business case is really nothing more than an argument supported by data and facts that helps persuade decision makers to take action on a recommended project or solution. A well-designed business case can not only help define the exact reason an organization should pursue an initiative, but also what your stakeholders can expect to get in return for the time and money invested.
We’ve already discussed in previous posts how to identify the opportunity, determine the costs and risks, and how to measure success. But there is one more part of the process that is arguably the most important step: how you present the business case.
From choosing the correct format, to predicting objections from your decision makers, it all requires some careful planning. Here are some tips to ensure your final presentation is a success:
Pick a format
There are many different ways to present your plan. Some of you may choose to keep it simple and stick with a written document, while others may want to construct an elaborate PowerPoint or even a video presentation. Remember that beautifully illustrated data can go a long way in persuading your audience, but overwhelming slides with unnecessary details can bore or even confuse them. You should also consider how to best deliver the plan. In some organizations, new plans are presented pitch-style to a large group, while some people prefer to read and reflect individually and discuss as a group afterwards.
You know your audience best, so we encourage you to choose the format that will resonate with them the most.
Lead with the need
No matter how well researched or innovative the solution, you likely won't get support from your audience if the need isn't clear from the start. Ask yourself, "What are the key points I'm trying to convey? What problem are we solving?"
Sometimes people aren’t even aware a frustration exists until it is pointed out to them, so begin by describing the purpose or pain point the intranet will be addressing.
Tell a story
Facts and figures are great but a strong narrative will really connect your audience on a deeper emotional level. Don’t be afraid to share all the frustrations and challenges you feel contributed to your intranet journey. Let them know why you began this quest, and how you arrived at your decision.
You might even want to create a hypothetical narrative, and invite your audience into a scenario of how a new intranet could benefit and impact employees.
For example, you could say something like this:
“Imagine our company just completed an exhausting search to hire Erin—a Product Management superstar. Day five into the new job and Erin is already overwhelmed. She cannot remember any of her colleague’s names, doesn’t know where new employee information is located and isn’t sure if the task she is working on has already been completed before. To make matters worse, she has four different documents to sign and cannot recall who to submit them to. Is this how we want our new employees to feel during their first few weeks on the job? What if Erin quits? Can we afford to go through another candidate search? What if there was a way for ALL employees, new and existing, to feel connected to each other, locate important documentation, and share relevant information?”
Imagine that you’re in the room with the executive team. You can feel your message resonating. You are so close to successfully making your pitch, and then out of left field a question is asked that you were not expecting. You do your best to answer, but in spite of your efforts, you realize that your audience now has doubts.
Yes, there will be questions. And yes, there will be objections. But don’t let them derail your business case. You need to be ready for all the expected (and unexpected) questions that may come your way. Here are a few common ones:
Objection: “Why should we invest in a new intranet when employees rarely visit the existing one?”
Intranet adoption is a huge and valid concern. Be sure to convey why any previous platforms were not adopted and how you plan to overcome that with a new one. Better yet, have an adoption plan already in the works! This is also a good time to provide strong data that supports your argument.
Objection: “Can we afford this?”
Cost is typically the number one objective, and a critical metric for CIOs or anyone else overseeing budgets. The initial set-up and costs to acquire technology, as well as any expenses to maintain it, are important measures of success and provide a benchmark for calculating a return on the proposed improvements. It’s important that you articulate not just why you can afford it, but also the potential cost of not pursuing a new platform.
Objection: “Can we spare the resources?”
Most organizations are regularly subjected to cost and resource pressure, so it’s important to express how and when resources are required. Again, it’s useful to have a plan in the works that details your potential resourcing requirements.
The right vendor will likely have an assortment of case studies that speak to various verticals and markets. Select a few and include it in your presentation. Not only will this demonstrate the vendors’ credibility, but it will also outline how organizations similar to yours overcame specific challenges with their intranet.
If this process of building an intranet business case feels like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Building a solid business case is an in-depth process but it has its merits. Arming yourself with relevant research, data, and options is the most compelling way to present a clear argument to win over any skeptics. In other words, investing the time and effort will almost always result in a positive outcome.
To see the other steps on this process, as well as a sample plan, please check out our workbook on How to Build Your Intranet Business Case.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.