Creating a solid business plan

A solid business plan can mean the difference between success and failure. So, where do you start?

2019 is all about digital transformation to ensure the best possible Customer Experience (CX). Are you ready ?

As in years past, global IT spending is expected to continue to grow in 2019, increasing 3.2 percent to over $3.8 trillion as enterprise software, cloud, and digital transformation projects boost growth.

“..if enterprises are not on the innovation end of trying to fund digitalisation of their business, it’s likely some other company is coming up with some type of an optimistion technology to eat your revenue.” - Gartner

The latest predictions from IDC advise enterprises that if they’re not digitally transforming their companies at an aggressive pace, that by 2022, just over two-thirds of their total addressable markets will be gone.

For many companies, digital transformation provides an opportunity to regain, protect or grow their competitive position and when delivered correctly with the right customer experience can create a strong and compelling competitive advantage.

With the growing focus on digital, many leaders are struggling with how to demonstrate the value to their C-suite, who are often evaluating competing initiatives with limited resources.

The C-suite are struggling to deliver results in the face of global turmoil, the fast pace of technological change, changing consumer expectations and in the UK, Brexit. Pressure on both the resources and on the senior leaders to deliver financial returns in ever decreasing time scales is growing.

Against this backdrop, many leaders are faced with the quandary of how to correctly evaluate competing internal change initiatives, demonstrate value for money, gain buy in that their proposed plan is the correct course of action and justify the proposed investment.

The answer lies in the Business case. Business cases should provide scrutiny, ensuring that what is proposed is:

  • The right sort of investment
  • Affordable, desirable and viable
  • Offering value for money for shareholders and/or customers
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The problem is, the importance of the Business cases is often undervalued, not given sufficient resources or there is limited internal experience to create a compelling case.

This can lead to underestimated costs, inflated budgets and missed deadlines. In the worst of cases, it leads to project failure, as requirements are not met, and business value is not delivered. Resulting in loss of support and confidence in the initiative and in some cases the introduction of more stringent gatekeeping that results in the elimination of viable projects.

A research paper entitled ‘Building Better Business Cases for IT Investments’ looked at how over 100 European organisations developed their Business cases and how these approaches were related to overall success in investments. Although producing Business cases was a normal and expected process, the findings suggested that they were often of poor quality.

65% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their inability to identify all benefits, and 69% stated inadequacies in the ‘true’ value of the benefits which were included.

Furthermore, benefits were often exaggerated or un-achievable in the first place, and there was a lack of understanding of the business change needed to achieve the benefits. Business cases which were focused on financial or efficiency savings tended to be less successful, which was a problem because financial benefits were often the only thing senior management were interested in.

So what makes a successful Business case?

The authors recommend that Business cases should include a ‘wide range’ of benefit types and recognise ‘all possible’ benefits. This includes ‘soft’ or ‘subjective’ benefits, which are more appealing to stakeholders and which often return greater commitment from those delivering the projects.

The resultant project will only be successful if they have been planned realistically, with a clear focus after detailed consideration of the associated risks. It is a business case that clearly presents the risks, opportunities and threats involved putting them in perspective of the investment involved there in. Thus a Business case is not just a record of the Return on Investment from a financial perspective but will present a summary of all the benefits delivered.

There are a number of methodologies that can be used to build a Business case, one of which, the Five Case Model, is outlined here.

The Five Case Model is a best practice approach used to plan spending proposals and enable effective business decision, this goes beyond the financial dimension. It is a framework for “thinking”.

Fundamentally it is used to help answer three basic questions of, ‘Where are we now?’ ‘Where do we want to be?’ And, ‘How are we going to get there?’. These are never easy questions to answer and often change as more information comes to light. For significant projects the business case is developed through three iterations. These are the Strategic Outline Case (SOC), the Outline Business Case (OBC) and the Full or Final Business Case (FBC).

The Five views or “Cases” are:

  1. The “Strategic case” – there is a compelling case for the change that fits with the strategic objectives of the sponsor.
  2. The “Economic case” – the solution represents financial value.
  3. The “Commercial case” – the proposed solution is attractive to the market place and is commercially viable.
  4. The “Financial case” – the proposed financial investment is affordable.
  5. The “Management case” – the input required from all parties involved in the transformation is achievable.

Considering areas beyond purely financial, when developing a Business case, will provide a more realistic view of the initiative and provide a compelling case that will help gain buy in from the c-suite and other stakeholders across the organisation.

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Still unsure where to start? Here at Synergy we have a pool of experience and hands-on knowledge of the steps that are critical when building out your new or additional Digital Customer Experience (CX) programs. Starting with the Business case and the associated deliverable ROI as the very first stage of deployment.

Simply put, we map the desired Customer journey, with your brand relevant customer touch points, and then apply the most appropriate and cost-effective Digital technology.

As an independent hub for all things Digital – we have developed an ecosystem of knowledge and hands-on experience along with partnerships that are focused on delivering a single point of contact for all things Digital within the Customer Experience world. Whether analytics, solution design, insight, deployment or resourcing we are totally focused on emerging and available Digital Customer Service capabilities and the relevant associated technologies. In real terms that means that we can show you the latest innovations available for your brands needs - from Digital CX technology working today right through to the trends that lie just around the corner.

Visit our website to find out more, follow us to stay up-to-date on the industry trends, or contact us now to ensure your success in bringing the Digital Customer Experience as a market differentiator to your Brand and to your Customers.

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