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How to build a successful business case

How to build a successful business case 

Your business case is flawless, you believe, as you have spent days working on a persuasive message. However, the powers that be dismiss your arguments out of hand. “How can that be?” you ask yourself. “What could I have done wrong?” Amit Duvedi, VP, business strategy value management for the e-procurement software firm Coupa, offered his advice on building a business case and avoiding common pitfalls.

Duvedi explained that there are three fatal errors that plague business cases. Departments suffer from tunnel vision. When making a business case, the employee presenting it often does not spend enough time focusing on the benefits of the proposed purchase. Also, they tend to use a great deal of jargon, which bores and confuses the executives listening to the pitch.

Why do people fall prey to these blunders? “Because it’s easy,” Duvedi replied. “When you’re working in your department, you don’t always think about the big picture. You’re inclined to talk about what you know, which can lead to insular thinking. It’s always harder to put yourself in someone else¹s shoes.” As a result, business cases are built narrowly and do not show the rewards for the rest of the company.

Duvedi advised forging partnerships with others who can help your department align its aims with the organization’s goals. These partners should also be able to help quantify the benefits of your proposal and translate the technical jargon into simpler language. He believes that it is important to identify partners both inside and outside of the department. “Go outside of your own department and talk to finance, IT, or whoever will be impacted by what you’re proposing,” Duvedi recommended. Members of other business units can add important insight as to the benefits of your business case.

The Coupa executive sees significant advantages to collaborating with people from other parts of the company. “The only way to figure who the important stakeholders are for a business case is to speak to people outside your department,” he said. This legwork can help you build a better case. “Figure out what’s important to them, what their priorities are, and how to express that information to them in the right terms so they will be more receptive to it,” Duvedi urged.

Although Duvedi views collaboration in a positive light, he pointed out that sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. “It’s important to stay focused, though, and avoid the urge to overcomplicate things,” he remarked. Keep your eye on the prize and remember that simplicity is vital to the success of your business case.

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