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How to build a business case for new project management software
Gaining stakeholder buy-in is like hitting the project management jackpot, and a well-structured business case is your winning ticket. It is a cornerstone that helps secure stakeholder approval and commitment.
Tactically, it lays the groundwork by defining the obstacles your team is encountering, whether it’s task prioritization, scope creep, reporting, or another common project management pitfall. Then, it proposes a solution: a project management platform with specific features and functions that can address the problem.
However, an effective business case requires a careful balance of detailed research and persuasive analysis. Following the steps below will help you convince your executives and other leaders that a project management tool is worth the investment.
Step 1: Conduct due diligence
Conducting preliminary research is crucial for building a compelling business case. It helps you understand the market landscape, stakeholder needs, and potential opportunities.
Understanding the competitive landscape of project management software is crucial. With a multitude of options that offer varying features and pricing models, a clear view of the market will help you make an informed decision about the right solution for your business.
Several effective market research methods can help you gain valuable insights. For example, competitor analysis lets you understand how one project management app stacks up against others in the market, helping you identify the selling points that will build support among stakeholders.
Market research might also be your secret weapon for understanding where your current project management solution falls short.
Maybe your current tool is great at task management but lacks some common features for real-time collaboration. Or you may realize the interface is easy to use, but the reporting capabilities could be much stronger.
Pinpointing and prioritizing these gaps helps you choose a tool that will best address your business’s needs.
Team or client surveys
Input from stakeholders who will be using the project management software is similarly valuable. These are the people who will work with the tool on a daily basis, so their feedback offers a ground-floor perspective of current pain points. They can shine a spotlight on the features that are most useful, existing tools and workflows that could be better, and current limitations that don’t have a practical workaround.
Asking the right questions is crucial. For internal teams, focus on task prioritization, collaboration, and workflow management to understand how well the software helps with productivity and organization. Externally, ask clients and customers for feedback about the breadth and depth of insights they get from the reports they receive. Multiple-choice questions, Likert scales, and open-ended questions can all be helpful, depending on what specific information you’re looking to gather.
Survey results can reveal what barriers and limitations are standing in the way of success.
For example, if it becomes evident that your team is struggling to track and communicate progress, you can build a compelling case for a new solution that includes Gantt charts and real-time dashboards.
Step 2: Summarize your analysis
After gathering valuable data, the next step is to articulate the primary arguments of your business case. The executive summary and solution proposal are what your stakeholders will be most interested in right away, so these sections should be concise but detailed enough to stick with them.
The executive summary needs to grab attention and make your case quickly. In this section, you’ll outline the primary issue that the project management software aims to resolve. Common issues include operational inefficiencies, project overruns, and misaligned team goals.
Moreover, the executive summary should clarify why action needs to be taken now, setting the stage for more detailed information in other parts of the business case. It’s important to explain how inaction or delayed action will have its own set of costs — costs that the organization can’t afford to ignore.
Proposed solution and features
This section serves as the heart of your business case, offering a detailed description of the proposed project management software. It’s not just about naming the software; it’s about showcasing how its features directly address the problems outlined in the problem statement.
Key features to highlight may include:
Step 3: Break down the costs
A cost overview is a detailed breakdown of all the expenses associated with a project or business initiative. It’s crucial in a business case because it helps stakeholders understand the financial commitment required and aids in decision-making.
Cost considerations for new PM software
Your cost overview for adopting new PM software should include:
ROI and cost-benefit analyses
Return on investment (ROI) is a critical metric because it quantifies the financial benefits the new software will bring in light of its costs. These benefits might be tangible, like the costs saved through time-saving automations, or intangible, like improved team morale and collaboration.
Explain how the new software will directly impact your company’s bottom line by improving business outcomes. Using the research from step one, provide an estimate of how the new PM software will benefit project timelines, total operating costs, and other critical production metrics.
Step 4: Present your business case
Stakeholder support is important for the success of any project or business case. Their buy-in can make or break the implementation of new project management software. Without their support, even the most well-crafted business case can fall flat.
Identify key stakeholders early
Key stakeholders are those who have the authority to green-light your request for new software. Depending on your organization, this may include your CEO as well as executives from the IT and finance departments. Project managers, team leads, and individual contributors may not need to sign off on your request, but it’s still important to include their insight in the decision-making process.
Address risks and offer mitigation strategies
When considering new PM software, stakeholders may have concerns about cost, usability, and security. For example, your IT executive might want details about the software’s integrations and security controls, while the finance executive wants to understand the commitments included in the contract. Be prepared to speak to the details that are most important to each stakeholder.
Why is a business case important?
A well-crafted business case ensures a precise alignment between the problem you’re trying to solve and your proposed solution. Additionally, a business case provides the information necessary to secure budget approval from key decision-makers.
Furthermore, securing buy-in from a broad range of stakeholders can create a ripple effect throughout the organization. When key players are on board, it’s easier to gain the support of other team members and departments. This collective buy-in makes the process of adopting new software much smoother in the long run.