Build the Brand: Enhance Your Image, Charge Premium Prices.

Captain’s Log Entry 7471.7The value of strong brands and branding is clear to everyone familiar with names such as Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM, BMW, Ericsson, Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Disney. Brand owners spend and work continuously to protect their brand identities from misuse and damage.

Successful Branding brings a competitive edge

In competitive industries, branding plays a central role in competitive strategy.

The companies that own these names have built successful brand names over many years. Their brands now work as powerful assets for market pricing and selling. Why do they spend so much and work so hard to build strong brands? And, why do they pay so much attention to protecting their brands from misuse, damage, or slander?

The answer, of course, is that strong branding pays off at the bank. The financial payoff stems from customer qualities that every company founder, officer, and marketer aims for: strong brand equity and strong brand loyalty.

Continue reading “Build the Brand: Enhance Your Image, Charge Premium Prices.”

Is It Proof? Business Case Figures Don’t Lie, But …

Captain’s Log Entry 7156Can you produce business case results showing anything you want to show?
“Figures don’t lie but liars figure.”
– Attributed to Mark Twain and others

Business case delivers compelling reasoning and cost and revenue forecastsDeploy and deliver business cash flow forecasts, financial metrics, and tactical advice for actions and investments. Build a compelling rationale that turns business case results into convincing business case proof.

One reason that business case results do not always receive support, no doubt, is this. Many believe that case results can be made to show anything the author wants them to show.

Is that belief really valid?

To be fair, not all who use business case analysis to support proposals intend to deceive. For many, however, personal biases and motives do shape case results. In business analysis and in scientific research, this is known as solving to a result. Keep “working” the numbers until they show you what you want to see! And, with the results you want in hand, everyone knows that figures don’t lie!

Figures Don’t Lie But You Can Solve to A Result

Continue reading “Is It Proof? Business Case Figures Don’t Lie, But …”

Business Case Risk: Will We Really See These Results?

Captain’s Log Entry 7345.3 — Business case analysis predicts future cash flows and risks. Know that when you deliver business case results, business case risk comes with the turf.  Learn how to minimize uncertainty and measure what remains.

Business case risk means that results come with uncertainty.

The business case predicts financial results, but these predictions come with business case risk.

Those proposing business investments and actions rely on robust business case analysis (BCA) to predict the likely outcomes. However, business case risk is always present.

Everyone knows, however, that not even the most rigorous BCA cannot eliminate business case risk—uncertainty about the results of business decisions. Through BCA can, however, cut uncertainty, measure what remains, and deliver tools for managing risk as the action goes forward. Continue reading “Business Case Risk: Will We Really See These Results?”

Annual Report Insider’s Guide: What Are They Trying to Tell Me?

Captain’s Log Entry 7337.4 — The modern Annual Report to Shareholders does not look like a dreary financial report. Instead, it looks more like a glossy marketing brochure. In fact, annual reports do have a marketing purpose.

Insider Guide to Reading Annual Report

Yes, the mandatory financials, notes, and auditor’s opinion are all there. These are usually in black and white and small print.  But the “financials ” have to sandwich in between many glossy pages with striking images, creative typography, colorful graphs, and artful prose from the Board, CEO and other officers Continue reading “Annual Report Insider’s Guide: What Are They Trying to Tell Me?”

Activity-Based-Costing: Is ABC Worth the Extra Effort?

Captain’s Log Entry 7316.5 — Cost accountants know that traditional costing can skew the measure of product production costs. Thus, many firms turn instead to Activity-Based-Costing for a truer picture of product costs and gross profits. However, ABC is notoriously labor intensive. Many ask: Is ABC worth the extra effort?

Is Activity-Based Costing Worth The time and-effort

Every company that produces and sells products must understand product costs accurately and in detail. This kind of information is essential for planning operations, pricing, and evaluating business margins. For product cost data, management relies on the firm’s cost accountants. But how, precisely, do the accountants develop this information? Continue reading “Activity-Based-Costing: Is ABC Worth the Extra Effort?”

Why Did the Business Case Fail?

Captain’s Log Entry 7296.1 — Why did the business case fail? It may predict excellent results yet still fail to “make the case.” Everyone asks: Why did the Business Case Fail? 

Why did the business case fail?Your business case does not have to fail.

In our business case seminars we see project managers, IT directors, sales people, and others who have just had a painful experience: Their business case analysis failed.

Some of them predicted great cash flow, high ROI, and short payback, but still got a thumbs down from top leaders. Continue reading “Why Did the Business Case Fail?”

Avoided Cost, Opportunity Cost: Are They Legitimate Business Case Costs?

Captain’s Log Entry 7290.4Avoided costs and opportunity costs can all play an important role in business planning, budgeting and decision support. Nevertheless, some financial specialists do not grant these costs legitimacy for the business case. Is this exclusion justified? 

avoided cost is purpose of preventative maintenance

A routine oil change is a familiar example of cost avoidance. Small investments in preventative maintenance avoid the much larger cost of engine replacement later.

I spoke recently with a project manager whose project funding proposal had just failed.

The Project Management Office—and the company CFO in particular—turned thumbs down on the manager’s Stage-0 business case. Why? Where was the red flag? Avoided costs! Continue reading “Avoided Cost, Opportunity Cost: Are They Legitimate Business Case Costs?”

Business Case vs Business Plan: Do You Know the Difference?

Captain’s Log Entry 7286.4Business Case, Business Plan. Do the Terms Mean the Same Thing? It’s a question you may have to answer many times for your colleagues. In brief, the case is organized around an action, while the plan is organized around the business.


Business case, Business Plan. Can you explain the difference?

The Business Plan outlines tactics for reaching objectives in the Business Strategy.

Many people ask:  What’s the difference between a Business Case, on the one hand, and a Business Plan on the Other? Surprisingly few people in business are prepared to answer such questions in clear terms. It’s a question that  participants bring to our business case seminars. Continue reading “Business Case vs Business Plan: Do You Know the Difference?”

The Principle-Driven Business Case: Process is Secondary to Principle.

Captain’s Log Entry 7279.3—Some managers see the business case simply as a tool for securing project authorization and funding. Experienced project managers, however, understand that a principle-driven case has substantial additional value to exploit throughout the project lifecycle.

Business Case Results include cash flow forecasts for inflows, outflows, and risksBusiness case results forecast cash inflows, outflows, risks, financial metrics and KPI impacts. A compelling rationale turns these results into convincing proof: your project is a sound business decision.

A principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

Very few business cases built today qualify as principle driven cases. A principle driven case manifests in short, concise documents that don’t need exhaustive descriptions to take into account every eventuality. Case building with a principle driven approach is efficient,  and case usage is clear and straightforward. And, principle driven cases have proven uniquely effective in improving project performance and delivering business value for the organization.

Continue reading “The Principle-Driven Business Case: Process is Secondary to Principle.”

Expect Your Business Case Critic. Be Ready!

Captain’s Log Entry 7275.1—Your business case critic comes with the turf. You can avoid a potentially damaging critique at your business case review if you take steps to prevent it. Anticipate the critic and prepare for the expectable criticisms.

Expect your business case critic

Expect your business case critic.

No matter when or how you prepare your business case, there will be a sinister, uninvited stranger in the room when you present it for review: the business case critic. You can’t bar this person from the meeting and  speaking to everyone present.

Know for certain the critic will be there, working against you. This person “comes with the turf,” whenever you project future business results. The critic’s name is The Credibility Question. Your critic is the moving force behind questions like these: Continue reading “Expect Your Business Case Critic. Be Ready!”