Before selling budget owners and stakeholders on funding an enterprise tech purchase, buying teams must build and deliver a solid business case. Here’s how.
Teams of cross-functional stakeholders vet most enterprise tech purchases today and building a compelling business case is critical to securing funding, especially in times of economic uncertainty, whether you’re scoping net-new technology or looking to replace or upgrade incumbent systems.
The best way to justify the spend is to build a business case that demonstrates how the chosen technology or solution will meet stakeholder expectations and organizational priorities and drive business outcomes. To do that, you’ll need to show the full value of the purchase across costs, value and risk, and convey that value through simple but compelling storytelling.
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Step No. 1: Align to stakeholder and organizational priorities
The buying team’s first job is to verify stakeholder priorities and expectations. Don’t just seek input from representatives on the buying team; solicit and capture feedback from budget owners and the broader organization to understand the needs and goals of those who will be directly or indirectly impacted by any change. Ensure that any tool or solution aligns with and advances enterprise mission-critical priorities and values and can achieve expected outcomes.
Don’t forget IT
Be sure to capture IT’s perspective, especially in cases where the core buying team is not otherwise part of the IT organization. (Ideally, IT will anyway have a seat on the buying team.)
Ensure compatibility with the existing tech stack
Also verify — and be ready to communicate as part of the ultimate business case — how the technology will operate within existing infrastructure. Determine and clearly document whether and how the new software or technology will share data, conform to security requirements and otherwise mitigate risk.
Gather thorough evidence
Complete a thorough and complete discovery, and document all relevant evidence that supports your team’s case. Beyond vendor resources, seek out unbiased feedback and reviews from peers in your industry, objective case studies, empirical data, proofs of concept (POCs), and other evidence to support your business case from trusted independent research (e.g., analyst reports, research publications). Don’t forget to look to your own professional network as a resource for firsthand experience with the software.
Ensure all evidence gathered presents a complete case, including data and alternatives to your team’s proposed investment.
Step No. 2: Measure projected outcomes in business terms
To demonstrate impact, measure projected outcomes in terms of the business value being created or delivered — within a specific timeframe. Consult with your stakeholders to know which metrics matter most to them so you can evaluate and articulate the value of the proposed investment in terms of their priorities and the organization’s mission or strategy.
Clear, business-driven metrics (ideally monitored through enterprise or IT dashboards) are especially important in gaining support for innovations or emerging technology investments for which the hard-dollar business case is less clear.
Step No. 3: Balance costs, value and risk
Look beyond initial costs or upfront investments when articulating the expected value and return on investment from the proposed tech purchase. Gather data and evidence that expresses the overarching value of the deployed technology or solution through a more balanced approach that addresses:
Total cost of ownership (TCO) — including so-called “downstream” technology implications and support requirements, management, maintenance and end-user training costs.
Tight alignment to the organization’s strategic values.
Risks — not only of investing in the proposed solution, but also the competitive costs and risks of doing nothing.
Step No. 4: Document and communicate your business case
Document all findings and analysis into a business case that begins with a problem statement. Use storytelling tactics to clearly explain why addressing that problem or need through the recommended software or technology is critical to your organization.
Show all activities that you expect to optimize through the solution. Discuss those that indicate performance and can be translated into impacts on your organization’s key performance indicators and outcomes.
Always craft your story in the language of your audience or stakeholders, especially when referring to outcomes, but avoid overly technical or functional jargon. Remember to address the role that people and processes will play in implementation success.
Crafting a compelling business case in plain business language will help your tech purchase team win funding and budget support from stakeholders.
Strike a balance between showing cost, value and risk of your proposed technology or software investment.
Use storytelling tactics to clearly explain why addressing your organization’s challenges with the recommended software or technology is essential for success.
Colin Reid, VP of Product Management, leads Gartner teams in scoping, building, shipping and managing global SaaS applications, including BuySmart. Previously, as a Gartner analyst, he helped clients design, build, integrate, operate and optimize all aspects of marketing and content technology and their operations. Mr. Reid also has experience as a CMO, COO and team leader at client marketing organizations, marketing agencies and global technology providers.
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