Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Make Your Next Business Case a Slam Dunk

Guest Author

By Jim Maholic, Oracle

This post is the twelfth and final article in a series of posts excerpted and adapted from my award-winning and Amazon Top 10 book, Business Cases that Mean Business (details on the book below). 


This series is focused on building business cases for transformational cloud ERP initiatives by aligning projected future capabilities to core business drivers. Over the course of this series, we’ve explored the four components of a successful business case, which are:

  • Hypothesis
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Recommendation

As we wrap up this series, it’s important that you start thinking about your next business case now.  The next case you do can gain quicker approval if you follow this very simple, final step: Document your success.

A thorough business case takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. You and your team have invested many hours of research, data gathering, data analysis, presentation prep, and ultimately an executive presentation. A lot of work. Begin planning now to make your next business case sail through the approval process. How do we do that? By first ensuring that this project delivers on its promises and, second, by reflecting on the actual success achieved by this project as Exhibit #1 for your next business case. 

As your project launches, it’s all too easy to let you and your team focus on deadlines and budget. Those are important, to be sure, but they alone do not determine project success. Keep reminding yourself and your team of the true business drivers for this project and drive towards those results. That will help you build your own legacy of successful project leadership.

Regarding your most recent business case, do not be like the vast majority of managers; don’t cast your business case aside and let it sit on the shelf and collect dust (or worse, get tossed in the shredder) after the funding is approved and the project launched. Instead, hold onto your business case for 12-24 months. And in 12-24 months, go back and re-read it. 

What were your compelling business drivers? Did you claim that inventory turnover would improve? Now that you’re 24 months out, do some actual analysis and determine if you actually achieved the improvements that you projected. Assuming that you did, this can be strong evidence for you as you plan your future business cases. 

It’s also helpful to do a post-project audit and determine if your project was delivered within the timeframe that you projected and that you actually spent less than originally forecast. But make no mistake—if your project was on-time and on-budget but did not deliver the results that you projected (vis a vis improvement in inventory turnover) then your project was not a success. It may not have been an abject failure, but it was not a success. 

So, keep those old business cases around for a few years and audit your project results against the original claims in your business cases. For every documented success, you are making your next business case that much more likely to win approval.

For those who may have missed previous posts in this series, below are all eleven posts, beginning with the first.

  1. Creating a Successful Business Case for ERP in the Cloud
  2. Three Key Questions that Your Business Case for Cloud ERP Must Answer
  3. Aligning ERP Cloud Benefits to Business Drivers
  4. Give Executives a Reason to Buy Cloud ERP
  5. Gathering Evidence for a Winning ERP Business Case
  6. Cloud ERP: Show Me the Money
  7. Time Really is Money: Demystifying the Cash Conversion Cycle
  8. Analyzing Your Business Case Discovery Data
  9. Getting Buy-In is Key to Business Case Success
  10. Create a Compelling Executive Summary for Cloud ERP
  11. How to Present a Winning Business Case 

For those seeking to dig deeper into any of these topics, that information can be found in my award-winning book, Business Cases that Mean Business.

This post is the twelfth and final article in a series of articles excerpted and adapted from my award-winning and Amazon Top 10 book Business Cases that Mean Business.

Developing a business case is simply the identification, calculation and communication of the value of your proposed capital expenditure.  Creating a sound business case should not be intimidating.  You simply must approach the development of a business case with discipline and ample planning.  This series of articles will give you an overview of the creation of a successful business case.  If you wish to explore this topic deeper, or just jump ahead right away, check out my book.

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