It can be argued that business cases play a direct and crucial role to how successful a company’s project will be. Business cases are developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the what, how, and who are necessary to determine if the plan is worth undertaking in the first place. Let’s be clear: business cases are vastly different from project proposals which focus on why a company needs a specific project. Business cases are meant to be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, cancelled, revised or deferred.
Marketers, take heed: Drafting a lackluster business case can result in project failure. Gartner Group studies have suggested that 75% of U.S. IT projects are considered failures by those responsible for initiating them. Failure, in this case, was defined as projects that did not meet its objectives, missed deadlines or went above the pre-approved budget.
Similarly, a Standish Group study on the U.S. IT industry found that 31% of projects were cancelled outright, with 53% of all reviewed projects displaying challenges that had the potential to make the project a failure.
Four questions need to be addressed in a business case:
- What is/are the company’s goal/s in pursuing the project?
- What are the potential challenges that prevent the company from reaching the goal(s)?
- What can be done to overcome these potential challenges?
- Is the company well-equipped to deal with these potential challenges?
Creating a business case
Great business cases clearly communicate the benefits and potential of your proposed project. In terms of arguing a case for a Product Information Management (PIM) system, you need to be clear on what and how such a solution can benefit a company.
Do talk about trends
Industry experts agree that the manufacturing industry is going to go through a lot of changes. While PIM has typically been associated with retail, predictions are being made to its necessity in the manufacturing industry as well. One important trend that can be highlighted in a business case is a 2018 study published in MAPI which talked about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will directly affect how manufacturing brands communicate with their customers. Study author, Dr. Michael Mandel, stated that e-commerce fulfillment centers and the digitization of distribution (similar to the Amazon model) will influence manufacturers to shift from a warehouse model to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model. In order to efficiently manage this process and communicate consumer-facing information, a PIM system would be beneficial.
Takeaway: Business cases create a sense of urgency. When developing a business case, it’s important that it gives a strong overview of the market and its current trends.
Do talk about numbers
Remember that business cases are not project proposals. While it is still a good idea to talk about the benefits of having a PIM model in an organization (the “why” of the project), business cases should highlight the potential gains of implementing a PIM solution (the “what”). When a company invests in a PIM solution, they have a central repository of product information, which helps speed time-to-market. PIM systems take away the long hours needed to manage product information from multiple sources and systems. Not only does this shorten the time companies need to produce new or updated product information, it also allows for more accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date information across multiple touch points.
Takeaway: Emphasize the tangible results of a project. Business cases almost always argue for the biggest returns in the most efficient manner possible.
Do talk about the difference
What makes each PIM system different from the rest? To gain an unbiased point of view, business cases should always look at the two previous points, and then decide which vendor best suits a company’s specific goals and needs.
One thing that should be clarified, however, is the urgency and continuous rise of the customer experience trend. A report by Internet Retailing concluded that 69% of consumers expect a hyper-personalized experience across all channels. Consumers are becoming accustomed to brands reaching out to them in personal ways, including product recommendations that have been formulated based upon previous purchases. Companies may want to consider a PIM solution that goes beyond just cleansing and transforming data, but one that also offers contextual and personalized customer experience capabilities.
Takeaway: Each company is different, so business cases should be developed accordingly. That being said, it is crucial to develop business cases on current and rising trends.
Don’t make your audience feel you’re only after their money
Present your business case while being mindful of the company’s needs and goals. Take note that more and more people expect a customer-centric approach. That is: Stakeholders of a company want to believe that they are being offered a solution that is best for their customers, and not just because of money.
Takeaway: Present a strong case for a specific solution and be aware that there is competition.
Don’t leave out the details
What other resources will the company need to implement a PIM solution? Business cases should emphasize – quite clearly – details such as the features of a specific PIM, how long the implementation will take and the product information processes that need to be reassessed.
Takeaway: Business cases get straight to the point and clearly presents what is needed to make the project a success.
All of these might seem daunting at first glance, but what should just be remembered is that business cases detail the specifics of a project, and how a company can benefit from such an endeavor.