Developing a business case to support large transformational system and business projects requires focus on multiple areas of a firm and a holistic, creative understanding of how the various components of the business interact. Clearly articulated business objectives are used to guide all transformation efforts for a business case to resonate with key decision makers.
Developing a business case begins by sharpening the business challenge description and identifying the key levers that drive business performance. From there, the team develops a corporate model, a financial model of the firm’s main elements, covering the development and investment-benefit horizon (5- to-10 year annual model), of crucial market and operational issues.
The deep level of detail is needed to simulate the vital components of the transformation effort. The team’s analyst must participate in some early design meetings to insure the model is detailed enough for the analysis required to support the future state.
The data needed to develop a corporate model are often not available in standard management reporting systems. Special reports may be required and could require primary data collection, which includes customer perceptions of value to support the development of process and technology alternatives and to evaluate the business value of the changes.
Often, CGN uses an activity-based time budgeting approach to estimate efficiencies in staff performance that result from changes in technology or processes, which are often developed during the project.
The current-state forecasts show what the company’s situation will be in the future if they do not make any additional investments. Often, and wrongly, current business forecasts are used as the starting point for the business case forecast. In many instances, this forecast horizon is not long enough, nor do the forecasts capture the details needed to simulate the business aspects of the transformation project.
For a business case to be most effective, a current-state forecast should be created in the context of the specific business case, with an appropriate horizon and level of detail.
The transformation team develops multiple different recommendations to improve operations. During the development of each, the corporate model helps the team evaluate economic benefits of alternatives. In the future state forecast, “manage levers” and their resulting benefit streams are identified. Typical levers include:
Recommendations are formed into a roadmap with estimated timing and costs. The roadmap is then translated into a future-state financial forecast.
The difference between the current state and future state forecasts provides the basis for the team’s analysis. Most consulting firms simply conduct a static analysis – a single-year comparison of projected benefits. However, a static analysis should just be the beginning. Businesses are dynamic and most transformation projects take multiple years to complete. These elements should be accounted for in the development of the business case. A dynamic analysis is possible when using the corporate modeling approach.
A systematic, dynamic and fact-based approach to transformation programs can help get the support of executive decision makers needed to better meet competitive business challenges.