Business case: if you can't find the money

In a previous blog post we discussed how if you are part of a business then you should run like a business and that means having a business case, i.e. Find The Money. What if you can't FTM? Relax. It does not have to be real money. It just has to look like money.

Returns on investment can be above-the-line or below-the-line or both. “Below-the-line” means cost savings, efficiencies, lay-offs. “Above-the-line” means more customers, new products, more sales, higher prices. Below-the-line money is easier to make tangible, to put a solid figure on it. It is also harder to prove because people understand the current process and have some measures of it. Above-the-line numbers tend to be more speculative (read: “made up”) because we are talking about new fields, the unknown.

Here is how to find the money for your business case:

Look for below-the-line savings. There are some analyst BS-papers that give you Crap Factoid percentages to wave around: 25% less calls to the helpdesk, 15% less downtime, whatever. Find some existing cost metrics within your business (dollars per call, dollars per hour down). Failing that use yet more analyst wet-finger-numbers. Do some impressive spreadsheets (colours are good) to show the expected savings.

If the resulting numbers still look a bit light:

If you really need serious money for a project, claim that you will save ten minutes per person per day, and thereby increase everyone’s efficiency by 2%. Then calculate the entire staff costs and claim 2% of it. If you are scoffing: I have seen it done for a web portal product. This is of course nonsense. If I gave you an extra ten minutes per nine-hour day (who works eight any more?), how much more would you get done? None, you would spend ten minutes more at the coffee machine.

When the below-the-line numbers don’t stack up, look to above-the-line: also claim an increased productivity in the company of 2% so add that to annual gross return and calculate the increase in profits. Claim that.

Find strategic issues that are hot in your organisation right now; growth, flexibility, quality, customer. Show how the project contributes to those.

You can also appeal to the argument that there is no return - ITIL is just part of the cost of doing business. This is obviously weak, with one exception: risk. Reducing risk can be a compelling argument if (a) there is focus on that risk right now due to scrutiny or a recent embarrassment and (b) the person who owns the money owns the risk.

Finally if all else fails to come up with the money: nick it.

  • The new SAP rollout has a five-hundred-million-dollar budget, so pipe some your way by showing how the ITIL implementation is essential infrastructure for the new system.
  • You know the Department is under-spent for the year: offer to help mop up some of the surplus.
  • Your peer manager is out of favour with your boss, so go after his budget. get the idea.

This is an extract from an ITSMWatch article by the IT Skeptic ITIL Business Case 101.


Now your getting it!!!

Now your getting where I am coming from..

The different between a framework like ITIL and what a professional organization/community should be promoting and communication is the practical nature of the information..

Business School and frameworks says: "Build a business case, develop a ROI, engage stakeholder"

A professional organization says: "These are the ways out members have been successful in kicking off projects. How to scrounge that first $X to get a project going, or What to do with the $X left over at the end of the year."

Concept vs. practical reality..

Frameworks and models are important and you must have them to guide your execution, but it is practical reality that makes you successful. This is one of my issues with certification, university education and generally the way we try and "educate" people in the modern world.. Too much education is designed for volume (reasonably enough to try and reach the masses) and not depth of execution. Too many models and frameworks and not enough knowledge and experience..

Bring back mentors, bring back apprenticeships. Measure yourself on your geneology (mentors and projects) and not your certificates and academic letters..

!!!OK Brad, Step away from the soapbox..!!!

Brad Vaughan

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