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Business Case Analysis

Need to conduct business case analysis for an information management project and want practical suggestions to ensure rapid project delivery?

Business Case AnalysisWhat is a business case?

No, it’s not something you use to carry your lunch to work.  

It is a document that specifies the rationale for proceeding with an information management project.

It is sometimes called a feasibility study because it involves determining the technical and financial realities of continuing with a planned project.

Why do organizations have information management projects?

Organizations will typically initiate information management projects because they want to:
  • Improve operational efficiency by reducing costs and streamlining processes such as consolidating several legacy systems, each with it’s own database structure, into one enterprise resource planning (ERP) application which shares data;
  • Improve effectiveness, by increasing sales or reducing customer loss thru more effective use of technology and software such as a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which will store all customer contact information in one location;
  • Comply with increased regulatory control by developing systems and processes to satisfy new laws such as the USA Patriot Act; or
  • Replace obsolete systems and technology, which are no longer supported by vendors and have become uneconomical to maintain.
Why is business case analysis important?

In today’s economy, it is very important that all investments be made in direct support of business needs.

Information management projects can be very expensive in terms of money and other resources and it is important that proposals for each new project be evaluated in terms of “business need”.

Imagine you want to build an addition to your house so that you can accommodate an aging relative. You and your family agree on what should be built, the projected costs, and how the renovation project will be managed to ensure that what is constructed is what was required.  This agreement is really a type of “business rationale” (but for a personal reason).

The rationale for a management information project is similar except that it may go into more detail about the expected “return on investment”. In other words, it describes what cost savings or increased revenue will occur if we proceed with the project, and what costs we can expect as we develop and implement the solution.

How does this help deliver projects faster?

The document provides management a means of monitoring project progress to ensure that it continues to meet objectives and does not diverge into other “interesting” things that the project team might find.

It clearly sets scope and expectations, which, if carefully managed, will minimize time delays and cost over-run.

Who should prepare the case?

Corporate management or information owners have overall responsibility for preparing a business case for information management projects.

But wait! The IT department has ownership for the technology required to store and process information needed for management and business intelligence purposes—Why can’t they take ownership for writing a business case for information management projects?

They can initiate the idea and perform much of the business case analysis but the proposed project must ultimately support business objectives—not just IT objectives.

For example, the IT department might want to make a case for data management to improve data warehouse load performance. This sounds like a good idea but the system case might be stated as:

“Improved data warehouse load performance means that we can get information into decision maker’s hands earlier. This will improve decision-making capabilities and improve customer experience thus reducing customer turnover".

When should we make a case?

Business case analysis is the first phase of any information management project. It should clearly define what the project is expected to deliver, at what cost, and in what time frame.

It should also document the expected return on investment and how the project will be managed to ensure that business objectives are met.

Organizations frequently insist on a business case for things like:
  • Customer relationship management systems (CRM);
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications;
  • Data quality projects;
  • Technology upgrades;
  • New software;
  • IT HR outsourcing; 
  • Project management if they are considering outside consultant support to management projects;
  • Outsource software development; and 
  • Strategy if they are contemplating an information management strategic plan.
How do we prepare a business case?

Each organization is different—Some have a very formal approach to building a business case and will require a formal business case study, feasibility study or cost benefit analysis requiring consulting support.

Other companies will require less formal approaches.

In all cases, a common business case template will help ensure that each information management project is evaluated in a consistent manner.


Business case checklist

Information management standards and best practices should be developed to address some or most of the following topics:
Analysis business case;
Building the business case;
Business case analysis engineering;
Business case analysis template;
Business case analysis tools;
Business case assessment;
Business case consulting;
Business case for corporate responsibility;
Business case for data management;
Business case for HR outsourcing;
Business case for project management;
Business case for quality;
Business case for technology;
Business case for the enterprise;
Business case intelligence study;
Business case projects;
Business case project management;
Business case project sample;
Business case study example;
Business case summary;
Business case valuation;
Business marketing case;
Computer business case analysis;
Cost analysis;
Create a business case;
Creating a business case;
Critical analysis;
CRM business case;
Developing a business case;
ERP business case;
Feasibility study;
Financial business case;
IT business case;
Marketing business case; and
Writing business case.

Summary...


A business case analysis phase clearly sets project scope and expectations, which, if carefully managed, will minimize time delays and cost over-run.



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