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Don't Just Write a Business Case, Tell A Story: Part 3 of 3 -Delivering the Business Case

Shawn Flynn

AVP of Global Thought Leadership & Advisory Services, Cornerstone OnDemand

In the first part of this series we focused on being reflective, or more specifically, reflecting on the priorities of your company’s business and how your people-centric priorities support the needs of the business. In the second installment, we focused on getting to the "So What".

For the third piece, we will focus on effective delivery. When it comes to developing a final business case, I like to employ what I refer to as the ’Water Strategy’ – i.e., follow the path of least resistance and find out what’s worked in the past. There is no shame in replicating a winning approach.

STEP 3: Delivering the Business Case

I offer this as a guide:

1. Get Executives’ Attention

We see many business cases that have so much lead-in that by the time you get to the ’So What,' they've moved on to check email, text a colleague and simply, tune you out. You have to get their attention up front. A simple way to do that is by taking your fully loaded benefit (i.e., adding up all of the impacts estimated in the first full year of total ramp once fully implemented & adopted), and divide that number by 12 (months). This calculation will give you a monthly (fully loaded) cost of delaying a decision, or cost of no decision depending on your preference. Make that your first slide. Now you've got their attention.

2. Show How the Investment Supports the Business

It is at this point where you pull in the slide that aligns the business and people/talent needs (Figure 1 from part one). Demonstrate upfront and with confidence that the ideas and strategies you’re about to present are rooted in the priorities of the business.

3. Build to the Benefit/Impact areas

As an example, in our group we will take the business and people needs slide (Figure 1 from part one) and add a third area that points specifically to the metrics to be impacted. Below is an example for reference:

4. Show Your Work (the Math)

You simply want to show how you arrived at the numbers that are core to your calculations, whether a direct input or a calculation. It’s better to have that detail at the ready in case it’s requested by your CFO/budget authority.

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We hope this helps you in your endeavors. In the end, this series is just one opinion, but it’s an opinion that’s rooted in years of experience, a lot of trial and error and working with hundreds of customers from SMBs to the Fortune 100. In the event you need assistance in developing your story, specifically in the HR and talent space, Cornerstone’s Integrated Value Services Team is here to help.

Sincerest regards,

Cornerstone Global Integrated Value Services, Thought Leadership

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Header photo: Creative Commons

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