In my experience of delivering digital transformation, its not the technology that creates the problem, it’s getting buy in to the change from stakeholders. This is no more prevalent than in seeking approval from those who call the shots.

A business case itself means many things to many people. It can be perceived as part of a strategic plan; it could be considered a financial endorsement; or perhaps even a ratification of executive decision making. Irrespective of this, the business case needs to make the right arguments to validate the recommendation.

My go to framework for a number of years has been the steadfast OGC 5 case model, the model lasting longer than the OGC itself! In this model five lenses were taken to justify the investment:

  • Strategic: illustrating the fit to the business strategy
  • Economic: demonstrating value for money
  • Commercial: indicating there are suppliers of the product or service
  • Financial: demonstrating benefit payback over the lifetime of investment
  • Management: indicating who needs to do what.

The model has served me well but recently as technology has grown its additional arms of data exploitation and artificial intelligence, its financial bent has become slightly biased in justifying investment.  As a result, I’ve taken to use a further 3 lenses – making an 8 Case model – these lenses being: Organisational, Enterprise and Governance.

  • Organisational case to mitigate the biggest challenge to change – the organisational culture fit. Its objectives are to address the WIIFM challenge and even the WIIFY (you) organisational culture benefits.
  • The Enterprise case, I added, to address the fact that technology delivers best benefit when it offers integration and collaborative services across the tech platform. This is where data exploitation can be best achieved.
  • the Governance case, speaks for itself. With GDPR now scrutinising our every transaction, we need to ensure that we treat personal information with kid-gloves and our processing is squeaky clean.

So, 8 cases.  Is that enough? I have toyed with the idea of using more granularity and adding further cases but then we may get analysis paralysis and create more reasons to say no rather than yes. What I think is beneficial however is to give some weighting to each case. Realistically, it’s unlikely that each factor carries the same importance. Some projects require investment because we have to: others because we would prefer to.  Their cases will hence have different weights.

A balanced Business Case is the result. Balanced against the organisational priorities and objectives.

Another factor is independence. I’ve found in my experience that an external assessment and agnostic opinion can remove the risk of HIPO (highest income person’s opinion), but I’d say that wouldn’t I?

One final suggestion based on my experience. Don’t forget external stakeholders.  Whilst a business case remains an internally focused document, external stakeholders are now becoming more powerful and if the investment doesn’t meet with their values then success could be lessened.  I suggest that consideration of the opinion of external stakeholders is contemplated within each case and if influential, the case adjusted accordingly.

I’ve come up with my octet of cases.  Could you suggest more?


Discover our Business Case sprints

Incremental Group offers assistance to companies faced with this challenge by facilitating a five-day engagement based on agile sprint concepts- the business case (BC) Sprint. Based on the fact that some of the justification has already been made (we assume!), we condense our standard 8-case model for business case analysis focusing on the steps indicated below.

Our 5 day sprints are available for ERP or CRM business cases.