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Seven Steps to Creating Your EIM Business Case

Some advice on making the business case as you go seeking funding for next year’s IT initiatives.

If you can’t demonstrate the value of enterprise information management (EIM) initiative within 10 minutes in an executive presentation, it’s likely that the funding will – once again – go to other projects that do show the hard returns. This post outlines the seven steps you need to take when developing and presenting a business case for your EIM project.

It’s imperative to demonstrate solid returns for any IT initiative, particularly for EIM initiatives like enterprise content management (ECM), social collaboration, or records management. Being able to develop and present a solid business case is critical not only to making good decisions; it’s also critical to packaging the message so that the impact of the initiatives you propose will be clear to executive management.

Your business case development process should look something like this:

  1. Define the criteria. Ask: Which benefit type (or types) align most closely with my organization’s corporate business goals? These are the benefits that are most likely to get the attention of executive management, whether a single one or a ranked combination of benefits such as revenue lift, risk mitigation and compliance, cost reduction, business continuity, or something else.
  2. Choose the type of business case. Next, consider the various types of business cases. There are different circumstances in which each type of business case is appropriate. Your approach may be one or a combination of the models. Your goal here is to create defensible scenarios to demonstrate how your proposed initiative will provide quantifiable ROI, not just an enumeration of the soft benefits.
  3. Prioritize the processes. Evaluate the most promising of your existing business processes for potential benefit from EIM. Assess the potential impact of EIM on each business process and rank those processes, using your defined evaluation criteria. Evaluate your proposed initiatives by how well they fit your organization’s business priorities, then rank and present them accordingly.
  4. Depict the current state. Create a view of the current process, applying current state metrics and facts. Include data specific to your organization (costs, volumes). Supplement with industry benchmark data in areas where your own data is incomplete. Where possible, also include an analytic/ heuristic model that shows how other organizations in your industry approach the process.
  5. Project the future state. Develop a view of the desired future state, with estimates of the improvements enabled by the deployment of EIM technologies. Use industry benchmark data to project the costs of the future state.
  6. Quantify the benefits. For each process, aggregate and analyze the hard and soft benefits in terms of your chosen criteria (revenue lift, risk mitigation/ compliance, cost reduction, business continuity, etc.).
  7. Communicate and socialize. Don’t blow it after doing all the work. This is the step where you get or lose executive buy-in. Develop an effective communications model and socialize it with the executive team. If possible, create an interactive visualization of the business case to communicate the business case graphically, in a succinct, easily understood format.

The most critical piece of the business case is calculating a return on investment (ROI) and then communicating it to executives in sophisticated yet easy-to-understand visual and interactive models. A business case should always be able to present “what-if” analysis, showing causes and effects resulting from changes in assumptions. The business case should be simple enough to review in a few minutes with an executive audience, but still display the robustness of the analysis.

Rich Medina
Rich Medina
I’m a Principal Consultant and co-founder of Doculabs, and the resident expert in using ECM for information lifecycle management.