The final step in business case development is how to present a business case so that it gains maximum buy in. Once you have prepared your business case and are confident that it presents the full case for why a change needs to be made, then it’s time to consider how you are going to present it to your Business Owner or key stakeholders.
There are several ways that I have presented business cases and they each work. First and foremost is gaining an understanding of how your signatories like to have the information provided to them. Here I am talking about the difference between someone being a visual person, the one who would prefer a presentation with pictures or diagrams versus an analytical person who is very detail oriented and would want to read all 15 pages of your document end to end.
This leads back to needs analysis that I have discussed in formulating your business case, and it will hold here too. Know your audience. If you have understood your signatories or key stakeholders needs from your initial discussions with them, then you are likely to have built up a reasonably strong relationship with them by now, so answering this question about their requirements on delivery format should be easy.
For those people that are analytical what I usually do is send or print out a copy of the business case and give it to them. I give them time to read it, and that can be up to a week, depending on the time until decision making is required. Then I will arrange a meeting with them to walk through the business case and answer any questions that they have. I find it best to follow up with the meeting after they have read my document, so that they have had time to digest it and let their mind analyse what I’ve presented in the document.
This also allows time for the formulation of any questions that might arise for them.
For the visual people, I like to prepare a presentation. This does not contain the full wordy business case, what it does is provide the snapshot of what is included in it. For example there would be one page containing the problem statement, one page with the details of the options available and which one is my recommendation, one page containing the information on the financial estimates (snapshot or high level version), a graphic of the timeline for delivery of the change outcome on another page, and the major risks and mitigation strategies that have been captured on the final page.
Again, I set up time to ‘present’ this to this stakeholder, walking them through the presentation, allowing for questions as we go. Doing this allows them to receive answers to their questions as they arise, and also for them to clarify anything that is not clear for them.
One of the benefits that I have found in walking each of my key signatories through the business case in these ways is that they are fully across its contents before the Project Control Board or decision making meeting. By doing this I have them on board, with all of their questions and issues addressed. This means that the decision making meeting runs more smoothly, quickly and easily and I gain approval to proceed or to not start.
It is a great way to be clear and show that the business case stacks up. By having any questions raised at this key point I am able to validate any concerns and make adjustments in the business case, if that is needed.
Written by Karen Munro
*Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net