The IT systems you choose should work for your company, and when they don’t perform as they should, it can cause a host of problems for your productivity and output. Slower processes and missed deadlines can result in unhappy staff and clients alike. Technology should add to your company’s processes rather than hinder and cause frustration.
Therefore, building a case for what you need out of your IT systems and suppliers is vital for the success of your business. Understanding where you need your investments and why it will benefit you as you choose technology suited to your company based on calculated decisions. Predicting the benefits of technology upgrades can be challenging, but by building a business case, you can explore each requirement and the potential outcomes — whether positive or not.
Investing time into in-depth research can lead to safer investments. Here we have created a guide to building the perfect business case for your IT requirements.
Understanding what needs to change
By identifying issues you are currently having with your IT regarding your business, you can start outlining a clear plan for change. Understanding where the pitfalls in your current management systems lie can be the cure to your business woes. For example, it could be as simple as the systems being efficient for your work, but a lack of training is causing common errors — then you might want to look at providing support in order to get the best out of your technology. Other problems may be outdated technology slowing down or complicating processes. Analyzing the weaknesses within your business IT support is the first step in exploring strategies to improve.
As different parts of your company may use systems for varying reasons, it is important to discuss issues with colleagues from across the business — this can give you a deeper insight into the issues which need correcting and common problems which may be occurring across the board.
Then spend time quantifying these issues. How long does each issue take to resolve? What monetary problems are delays causing? And how many people across the business are suffering from the same issues? By quantitatively analyzing your IT problems, you can start to prioritize changes to produce a more effective business case for change. This will also help reporting the negative and positive impacts of any changes made as you can compare these figures before and after. This will give you a clearer understanding of what works for your company and how best to proceed.
Once you have outlined where changes need to be made, it is important to do your research into your options and solutions. This is a good time to reach out to industry experts and conduct your own market research into how other companies resolve similar issues to gain a better understanding of the potential solutions you have.
This research is not only important for solving the initial issues, but it is also useful for the efficiency and cost-saving measures of your company. Rather than choosing the first available fix for your problems, collating a list of solution providers and their services will save you both time and money in the long term.
It is also important to know when changes aren’t necessary. The issues outlined may be a product of other internal factors which can be changed without the need to update or change systems or providers. Issues may be due to human error rather than an issue with IT. For example, you might want to offer Microsoft 365 training if issues occur regularly with new staff but less so with experienced ones, or potentially a new role is needed within the company if one process takes up the majority of the workload, leaving deadlines unfinished.
Building a business case optimizes your efficiency, and as such, spending time researching solutions, rather than attempting to buy a fix to your business issues, can be the most impactful.
After you have researched your options, it is time to trail your top choices. Using demos within different areas of your company, and gaining employee feedback, can give you a better understanding of the direction you need to go in. Speaking to different providers and their package offers can give you a better insight into the financial expectations of each change.
Trailing technology can give you a realistic view of the efficiency of each system and tool. Software demos can help shortlist your business case further while allowing you to create a realistic timescale for the change. You will get first-hand experience with the interfaces and learn whether the software requires customization to your company, in-house training, or other resources if invested in. This can give you a clear insight into any disruptions or complications you can expect, as well as a better understanding of the long-term impact of change.
What will the result be?
It is then important to establish potential returns on investment and your own expectations from any changes made. Being clear on what you expect to see from investing in your IT requirements not only helps you build a case for the changes, but it can also give you a point from which to analyze progress from. It is vital that you establish standards by which you measure success.
Investments should return positive results, both monetarily and otherwise. How will making changes improve profit, customer relations, client feedback, and overall efficiency? Equally, do you predict any negative influence from investing in new technology — and if so, do they outweigh the positive returns, and how can these be addressed? For example, you may need to outsource employee training rather than conducting it in-house, however, this investment might lead to greater employee morale and productivity.
You will also need to outline the timescale in which you expect to see a positive return. It is important that your company’s expectations align with the realistic results, so that investments can be made wisely.
Building a business case may not seem complicated, but it can be vital for the progression of your company. Identifying issues and establishing a plan of action to correct these involves research and communication across the business in order to provide the most efficient, comprehensive strategy that benefits all.
Barry O’Donnell is Chief Technology Officer at TSG.