While the “case” in business case mostly refers to financial decisions in the workplace, it shares similarities with a legal case. To win, a clear set of facts and evidence must support a business case. Business analysts also need to demonstrate sound reasoning and clear logic when creating winning cases.
Business analysts are often referred to as the fix-it people in the corporate world. As the title suggests, these professionals analyze a particular business situation to identify both problems and opportunities.
They propose solutions to fix the weak or missing links, improve business efficiency and support growth. Similar to a courtroom lawyer, a business analyst must present facts and evidence to the jury (in this case, the leadership or executive team, and/or the stakeholders) that support the story and his or her recommendations.
A business case always involves expenses on the side of employers. It could be as simple as adding a new employee to a particular team to support increasing deliverables or as complicated as investing in a state-of-the-art IT security program to improve data protection and business continuity plans.
Regardless of size and complexity, the goal of the business case remains the same: to convince decision-makers to approve a proposal. Here are some of the things a business analyst must keep in mind for a winning business case.
Link solutions to business objectives
Perhaps the easiest way to win a proposal is to show that your recommendations will also help decision-makers reach their business goals. It's not enough that you simply justify the proposed solutions. You need to connect it to the "bigger picture."
For instance, if you're proposing to add another member to the marketing team, connect the extra resource to the company's goal of creating a brand that people want to work for. The additional personnel can manage more events designed to reward people for the great work they do, which in turn, strengthens your brand, and most importantly, helps you identify a business need.
Cover all bases. Your analysis should be detailed.
A business analyst’s job includes a thorough investigation of the problem before creating a well-researched solution, and this can only be done if the professional has successfully covered all the bases and created a detailed proposal of the solution.
Basically, a business analyst needs to make stakeholders understand how he or she arrived at the solution. For instance, an additional resource may or may not be the best solution to an increasing workload. The BA would be expected to justify their recommendations based on the facts gathered.
Companies can also invest in new technology to automate routine work. Both solutions come with expenses, so the business analyst needs to state how he or she arrived at the recommendation.
Secure support from the leadership team.
A business analyst needs as much support as he or she can get. Solid support from the leadership team can help win a business case, but the ability to get executive support for a business cause can be tricky, unless the benefits to be derived are clearly outlined.
The key is to start talking to senior management as early as you can. This, however, needs to happen in a formal setting, which means that unless the project is initiated by senior management, the business analyst should build the business case before soliciting for support.
It's not enough that a business analyst knows how to solve problems. He or she must have critical thinking skills to help gauge possible solutions and arrive at the best one.
A business analyst can be seen as the middleman between the client (business department) and the leadership team or decision-makers. The ability to shift gears and use the appropriate language for a specific audience is one of the essential skills required to be effective as a business analyst.
Moreover, a business analyst must be able to write well. A business case written in the active voice is often preferred and better understood. Other writing tips include ensuring that the document is well-formatted and contains all the necessary attributes.
Make your case
Business analysts are significant players who affect the organization’s productivity, effectiveness and growth. Effective players always focus on identifying not only solutions but also business needs that are currently not met. The tips above can help business analysts become successful in their field, while serving as valuable business assets.
Shuba Kathikeyan heads APEX Global, the learning solutions arm of ECC International (ECCI). She has over 10 years of experience in the areas of project management, business analysis, software development and IT service management. She carries several international certifications in the areas of ITIL, Business Analysis, Project Management, Microsoft Technology and Learning Management amongst others. Shuba has a passion for process improvement, training and new product development.