We are often asked by our customers to help them build a business case to upgrade their ERP system. Where the original implementation was surrounded by helpful advice and guidance, a few years down the line, when upgrades are discussed that initial momentum and enthusiasm has waned, and re-engaging disinterested stakeholders can be a difficult battle to win.
Regardless of whether it has been requested, it is always worthwhile (and best practice) to build a business case – this can be as simple as a one page document. As a general rule, you should spend the relative time and energy on the business case to the size of the project. So, the greater the project, the more comprehensive the project proposal and business case.
What should a business case contain
- Current analysis
Be short and to the point about what is not working at the moment – it maybe that product quality is slipping or your business has changed. Don’t use it as an excuse to grumble, and remember what causes your workload to double may not be important to the board. Use one of your project stakeholders to review as if the analysis doesn’t stand up, the business case will fail.
- Link to business needs & objectives
For example, if your business is on an efficiency drive, you need to link the upgrade project to helping achieve efficiency. Check out your company’s intranet pages, or quarterly earnings statements to find out what is top of mind of your CEO and FD.
- Know your audience
Will your project be signed off by the CIO, or will it need to go to the board? Taking the time to think about your audience will be time well spent. For example in the IT meetings, the TCO of the software is of paramount importance, but in the last management meeting, the requirement to have split production orders was top of the agenda.
- Push the software features
With most upgrades, there is a plethora of features and benefits to upgrade to the latest version. For the business case, use the marketing info provided. Chances are you will only use what you planned, but selling the vision will help get the stakeholders on board.
- Cash In to cash back
One of the easiest areas to get wrong in a business case is the corresponding KPI’s to the upgrade. Even if the software promises a great increase in profitability or the ability to leverage innovation. The vision versus the reality are often juxtapose. Our advice, look at your current analysis and come up with SMART KPI’s that are linked to your project.
- Reality check
Make sure you add in a realistic budget and timeline. Factor in the cost of additional resource, testing, and scheduling around business peaks and troughs.
- Cost of doing nothing
Finally, ensure your business case rounds up the discussion with the cost of doing nothing. Unfortunately it is a reality that there will be at least one or two individuals who will try to push back your upgrade project in favour of their projects – likely to be the latest technological innovation. ERP upgrades are not flashy and won’t make headline news, however they are fundamental to the business. Be savvy in this final part, look at your competition, extrapolate problems you are already having and don’t be afraid to put in figures. Ask your software vendor or implementation partner to help fight your case, they often have been there before and have great advice.
Next in the series ‘Getting Stakeholders on Board and Engaged’