Benefits professionals who want their organisation to part with its resources in the current economic climate, be they time, money or staff, must address all of the following considerations.
What’s the need?
The link to commercial success must be clear to all relevant stakeholders. Too many business cases look like answers looking for a question.
What’s the answer?
Benefits professionals must explain what they are proposing, along with the pros and cons and a clear rationale as to why the proposed option is recommended. This shows that they have followed a sensible process in arriving at their proposal.
What is the return on investment?
A good business case shows a credible and realistic view of the overall commercial outcomes over time, and a clear mechanism by which the proposal will affect key performance indicators. Too many business cases feature tenuous links between cause and effect, and merely demonstrate the author’s lack of commercial acumen.
Is there clarity around assumptions and risks?
It is fine to make assumptions, but a good business case makes plausible ones and considers the impact of various predictable scenarios on the outcomes. Benefits professionals should consider a range of commercial outcomes in a risk-based way.
Is there modularity of the cost and benefit?
Money is a finite resource. Benefits professionals should give their audience the option to tailor the balance between cost and returns to fit the budget available.
How will success be measured?
Benefits professionals must consider the outcome and process metrics that will best show their organisation whether the aims of the initiative have been delivered.
Who is the audience?
Benefits professionals should consider whether their audience is rationally or numerically biased, as well as whether or not they are emotionally biased, or perhaps both.
Is there validation and credibility?
Benefits professionals must, like anyone building a business case, show support for their case through the use of benchmarks or external data. They can do this by, for example, engaging their finance director early on in the project to get them on side with their numbers. Failure to do so could result in them not managing to progress to slide two of their presentation.
Professor Nick Kemsley is co-director at the Centre for HR Excellence at Henley Business School