You have done your homework and decided that implementing SSO software is right for your company. Then you check your budget and find that you do not have the resources to make it happen. What’s the solution? Create a business case to persuade management to provide additional resources. Let’s take a look at the four fundamentals that go into a successful business case document.
Business Case Fundamentals: Objective, Audience, Tone, and Corporate Requirements
If you ask a financial analyst, they may tell you that a business case is little more than a return on investment (ROI) spreadsheet. That is just one small part of the story, especially for SSO software, which is difficult to compare to traditional investments. Make sure you cover each of these four elements in your document:
State why your organization will benefit from implementing SSO software. When possible, link these points back to your corporate objectives, such as safeguarding information and enhancing productivity.
Who will be reading and approving your business case? This is the single most common failure point in the technology business cases we see. If you answered the question with “the management committee,” think again. With rare exceptions, there is usually one person with above average influence. That is the person to keep in mind as you craft the business case.
The tone you use will depend on your organization. Finding this out is easy. Ask around internally and find somebody else who has had a business case approved. When in doubt, aim for a formal style. You can always add the personal touch to your presentation.
Some companies, especially those with sophisticated finance teams, have special requirements for business cases. These requirements tend to ask for detailed financial information regarding costs and benefits. For example, what is the cost of the solution in year 1, year 2, year 3, and so forth? Remember to include supporting costs such as consulting, training, and adjustments required to other systems. As with tone above, seek out an approved business case with these particular requirements.
Write the Business Case: The 5 Key Sections
You know the fundamentals of writing a business case. Let’s apply that information to winning support for SSO software.
- Start With Why
Business executives usually don’t care much about the details of security software. They want to know the big picture. Using Simon Sinek’s excellent TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” as a starting point. One answer could be “we want our employees to have a seamless, highly productive working experience free of IT irritations. We make that happen by putting SSO software in place.”
- Identify Benefits
In this section, go into greater depth on the benefits your organization will achieve with SSO. For the best results, include a mix of business and technical advantages here. When possible, quantify the benefits and cite industry research. For example, you may point out that the average business user has more than 100 passwords. This large number of passwords encourages users to pursue high-risk behavior such as writing down passwords.
- Explain the Options
Give your reader several options for how they can achieve the benefits you have described. At the most simple level, the options will include: do nothing (i.e., the status quo), develop an in-house SSO solution, or implement an SSO solution from a vendor. As a rule of thumb, aim for 3-5 options. Be prepared to answer questions about the costs and benefits of each option.
- Make Your Recommendation
Based on the options you present, recommend a single option to the committee. This is a critical step in the business case.
- Ask for the Approval Decision
In sales training, there’s a saying: always ask for the order. If you do not ask, few people will volunteer to buy. The same concept applies to your business case presentation. Ask the executive or manager for their approval for funding and other resources to move ahead. If you are told to come back with further information, make sure you confirm a specific date and time to cover those points.
Sell the Business Case: Go Beyond the Document With These 3 Steps
Writing an excellent business case is essential, but may not be enough to win approval. Use these tips to increase your odds of success further.
1) Develop allies
If you walk into a meeting with five executives you have never met and present your business case, what will happen? Honestly, it is a roll of the dice. To put the odds in your favor, develop allies in advance. For further advice on this topic, check out this Manager Tools podcast: How to Prewire a Meeting.
When you have allies in the room, you will feel more confident in making your presentation. Your allies may also be able to give you tips on the best time and place to present your business case.
2) Find the unwritten rules
Whether or not your organization has formal business case requirements, those are only part of the story. You need to take the process a step further and find out the other expectations. For instance, your organization may have had a bad experience with a particular technology company in the past. As a result, any proposal highlighting that company will face an uphill battle. To find out that corporate history, set aside $20 and take people out for coffee. Your network will improve along with the probability of approval.
3) Be persistent in your request
Did your business case get declined? That happens to the best of us. The answer is to learn from the experience and persist. Timing is a common problem for funding requests. If your business case is not approved due to timing, find out when new business initiatives are open for discussion. In the meantime, carry out more research and build more relationships.
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Research is an essential step in preparing your business case. To guide you through that process, look into our resources: The 10 Phases of Identity and Access Management and Top 4 SSO Software Implementation Mistakes.