Innovation is nothing without execution. New ideas, wherever they stem from, are worth nothing until they make it into reality. However, in today’s tough economic climate, getting budget for IT projects can be a real challenge. The business case is the stage at which most new innovations are likely to stumble. No budget means no execution. No execution means no innovation. So, developing strong business-case-building capabilities is a critical component of an innovative, business-leading IT department.
Many businesses today aren’t just supported by technology – they’re defined by technology hence even a simple mistake can cause huge loss and discourage any kind of trust . The barriers that stand between the IT department and the company coffers are higher than ever before for this very reason, but the problem is compounded by increased competition for funding from other areas of the business . The only key to success in these kinds of situations is presenting IT investment as business investment, e.g. how spending money on IT projects will pay dividends in terms of cost savings, productivity increase and quality improvements; some tangible and measurable, some less tangible and less easy to quantify.
Where financial analysis may be seen as the rational part of decisionmaking, there are also other subconscious and emotional factors to consider. How will this investment in IT make life easier for people in the business? How will it eliminate current frustrations? Hence the resources required to successfully deliver an IT project go beyond the budget and encompasses people, effort, motivation, commitment, knowledge and relationships which are also critical success factors.
It is important to understand that building a business case is an interactive and collaborative process – applying continuous participatory evaluation that involves both IT people and business people – is the key to success.
How the business case will appeal to the values of stakeholders and decision-makers is also something that needs to be taken into consideration. For example, introducing web-based e- commerce and self-support tools in a very traditional organization that prides itself on “the personal touch” may make economic sense (in terms of cost savings) but it may not mesh well with the company’s brand values. It is essential that an IT business case is constructed in collaboration with business stakeholders, so that conflicts that might kill an IT project can be resolved as early as possible in the process to make the business thrive.