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The Business Case Templates 2019 package will guide you to a professional quality business case quickly and easily. Build your case in the shortest possible time, free of uncertainty about case structure and content.
Complete the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint templates in the package to build a professional quality business case report, ready for presentation and review. Also, know that your case will stand up to critical scrutiny from financial professionals, analysts, and skeptical managers.
In some minds, a successful business case is one that brings CFO approval for a funding request.
CFO Success is What Matters
You can improve the chance of hearing a CFO “Yes” if You know What the CFO looks for in your business case.
For many case builders, CFO approval is the very definition of business case success. However, participants in our Business Case seminars tell us that this kind of success can have a short life.
A business case that wins CFO approval is a case that will soon be put to the test. CFOs and others who decide funding requests know that they, themselves, will bear accountability for the actions they approve. For them, approving an action is not “success,” when predicted results do not arrive as promised.
CFO-IT Magazine recently asked 241 senior finance executives the following question:
“In the past year, have your IT expenditures produced the return on investment you expected?”
Of the finance executives who responded, fifty seven either said “no” or “unsure.” Only 9% said they had resolved the ROI debate by relying on one or more formal approaches to ROI for all or most IT expenditures. The rest are either using other decision criteria, or searching for other criteria. Continue reading “The CFO Approves! What Does it Take to Get a CFO Yes?”
The CFO Approves! What Does it Take to Get a CFO Yes? was last modified: January 23rd, 2019 by Marty Schmidt
You can improve the chance of hearing a CFO “Yes” if You know What the CFO looks for in your business case.
When non-financial outcomes help meet important business objectives, they deserve value and a place in the business case.
Important benefits from an action are sometimes hard to value in financial terms. Case builders struggle especially in assigning value to non-financial outcomes—the so-called “intangibles.”
Are these benefits soft benefits? Or, real business benefits that belong in the business case?
Deliver Benefits That Everyone Calls “Soft”?
The answer to such questions can be an emphatic Yes! Outcomes qualify as business benefits if they meet two conditions.
Outcomes contribute to meeting important business objectives.
There is tangible evidence for the outcomes.
Notice especially that the word financial does not appear in conditions (1) or (2) above. If both 1 and 2 apply, then non-financial outcomes qualify as legitimate business case benefits.
Soft Benefits? Don’t Touch Intangibles!
It is very important that case-builders see the problems with two dangerous and potentially damaging terms: Intangibles and Soft Benefits.
Business people sometimes apply these names to outcomes such as increased customer satisfaction, stronger branding, reduced risk, or improved company image, for instance. Regarding the words intangible and soft, we present a certain business case doctrine to participants in Solution Matrix Business Case seminars:
Tangible means touchable. It does not mean financial, as many people seem to think.
If an outcome is truly intangible, that means there’s no evidence it has occurred and no way to measure its qualities.
Truly intangible outcomes do not belong in a business case.
Outcomes such as higher customer satisfaction or better branding are non-financial outcomes. However, the case builder can verify and measure these benefits through evidence that is indirect, but tangible nevertheless. Examples include impacts on key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer satisfaction survey scores, are examples that can receive financial value this way.
To call an outcome a soft benefit is to make it a second class citizen in the eyes of everyone. As such, it loses respect and carries little weight among decision support criteria. Second class status for many non-financial outcomes is unfortunate and unnecessary. Such outcomes may represent strategic business objectives. They may represent the very reason for undertaking programs, projects, acquisitions, or other actions.
The Gun-Shy Colonel’s Dilemma
Several years ago, a colonel in the US Army Medical Service Corps turned up in one of our business case seminars. The Colonel had a very specific case-building need: A business case to support a funding request for a new training facility. He was trying to justify the new building entirely in terms of cost savings. The old site was costly to maintain and it was too small. The army was currently renting expensive classroom and clinical space off base in order to meet high volume training needs. A new building designed for the purpose should be less expensive to run. And, a new building would do away with the need for outside rentals.
Unfortunately, the colonel’s estimated savings fell short of the new building costs, even when projected across thirty years.
The new building promised other benefits, of course. However, the colonel was not sure how to bring them into a business case. The case, after all, had to survive scrutiny as it moved up the chain of command. The last thing he wanted was to be hit with a charge of soft benefits. So he focused on what everyone agrees is a hard benefit: cost savings.
Business Benefits Come from Business Objectives
I had to ask him: Do you mean to say that the entire mission of the Army Medical Service Corps is to save money?
Of course not!!! (The question may have touched a nerve.)
Our mission is to:
Provide the army with the best available health care.
Maintain the high medical readiness in all conditions…. and so on through a long list of impressive mission statements.
I asked him:
Will the new facility help you do these things better?
Can you prove that?
The colonel showed in concrete terms how to shorten the training cycle for several specialties. And he showed how staff could collaborate more effectively with the new facility. He also showed how they could reduce critical support skill shortages with the new building. And, he explained how it how it would be easier to recruit high quality civilian staff with the new facility.
In conclusion, the Colonel had tangible evidence to make the case:
The new building would help reach mission objectives.
There is no better definition of hard benefit than that.
What’s it Worth in Real Money?
The business case stands or falls on the strength of its reasoning, not its financial math. Giving financial value to benefits should be the last case building step, not the first.
To build the benefits list for the case, start with a focus on important objectives. If you can show in tangible terms that your proposal helps meet objectives, the benefit is real.
If leaders agree there is value in reaching the objective, it follows that the benefit has value.
That much of the structure is now solid. To give value to a non-financial outcome, then take two more steps:
Firstly, agree on the value of reaching the objective.
Secondly, ask: What part of that value belongs to the benefit outcome?In other words, before trying to estimate benefit value, find the value of reaching the objective.
The Outcome: Building Approved!
The colonel found his superiors were very willing and able to agree the value of meeting goals. As a result, they readily agreed on figures for the value of:
Fewer skill shortages.
Shorter training cycles.
Recruiting and retaining staff.
Now, there was only one more question.
What part of this value belongs to the new building?
The agreed figure was not 100%. But it was not 0%, either. That was more than enough to make the case.
Business case proof relies on the same reasoning that delivers decisive proof in the science lab.
Make no mistake, most business case authors have a desire to prove something. They might as well write in the opening lines,
I’m going to prove that …
My proposal action justifies itself in financial terms.
Funding my project is a good business decision.
We are acting wisely and responsibly in taking this course of action.
Case builders intent on proving something often go on to produce the return on investment (ROI), internal rate of return (IRR), or net present value (NPV) they expect from their proposals. Their financial metrics may be attractive, but for some reason, they just don’t “make the case” with CFOs, review boards, or other senior managers. There may be doubts all around that anyone can proved anything with a business case.
The 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.
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.
Cost accountants know that traditional costing can skew their measures of product production costs. Thus, many firms turn instead to Activity-Based Costing.
Companies that produce what they sell know well they 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?
Why Adopt Activity-Based Costing?
The Income statement gross margin is in fact an average for all products (or entire product lines). The real gross profits and gross margins for each product can tell a very different story: A high overall GM, for instance, can obscure the reality that the firm actually takes a loss on particular products. The problem is that traditional product costing methods do not always show particular product costs accurately.
Managers turn from traditional costing to activity-based costing driven by a keen want to improve costing accuracy—get closer to the true cost and true profitability—of individual products and services. They are also moved by a wish to understand better the true costs and ROI from projects or other initiatives.
Companies Try ABC When they Need Accuracy
Companies try out ABC in their own environments to find out how well the method:
Identifies products that are truly unprofitable.
Finds the true costs of products to support pricing policy.
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.
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
If you don’t want nasty surprises from the hostile business case critic at your own case review then don’t surprise your audience!
Prepare for the Worst—Your Business Case Critic!
There are some things you just do not want to hear at your business case review. You are trying, after all, to build confidence that supporting your proposal is a wise business decision. At your case review, however, certain remarks from the business-case critics can dismantle that confidence—if you are not ready for them. One hard-hitting question from a devious skeptic can undermine the credibility you work so hard to build—unless you know in advance how to turn it to your advantage. Continue reading “Your Business Case Critic: How to De-Claw the Cat”
Your Business Case Critic: How to De-Claw the Cat was last modified: March 17th, 2019 by Marty Schmidt
The Business Plan outlines tactics for reaching objectives in the Business Strategy.
Many businesspeople ask
Business Case, Business Plan. What’s the difference?
It’s a question that surprisingly few people in business are ready to answer. It’s a question you may have to answer many times for your colleagues. And, it’s a question that many participants bring to our business case seminars.
People often use the terms interchangeably or ask for one of them when they mean the other. Why?