Published: Nov 14, 2018
A business case is as simple as it sounds – it’s a case for change that you propose to your business, capturing the justification for an investment. While understanding the concept may be simple, constructing it typically isn’t as easy. To build an effective business case requires truly understanding the ins and outs of your current process and what you wish to accomplish.
Building a business case follows a similar format to how you would pretty much build anything – you devise a plan, collect all the necessary tools, lay a sturdy foundation, and build your structure. Though you’re not working with a hammer and nails, you must prepare in a similar way to ensure the construction of your business case is strong and stable. That way, when you present your case to key decision makers, you have all the evidence and support you need to justify the investment for a change.
The Big 3
Because I was an English major in college, I carefully chose these three words as essential guidelines in building a case for change based on their linguistic function. ‘Why,’ ‘where,’ and ‘how,’ are not adjectives that name an attribute or verbs that determine an action – they’re adverbs. Adverbs are complex and multi-purposed. They are descriptive, but also force an action. Called ‘interrogative adverbs;’ ‘why,’ ‘where,’ and ‘how’ compel you to do just that – interrogate. You must ask questions to find the right solution. In this case, asking the necessary questions around your timekeeping process so you can determine identify and articulate the areas of opportunity in your business case.
If you’ve ever played pin the tail on the donkey, then you know how difficult it is to pin the tail exactly where it needs to be with a blindfold on. Typically, you end up with its tail stuck to anywhere but the right spot. But imagine how easy the game would be to win if you took the blindfold off? With visibility and a sense of direction, it would be nearly impossible to pin the tail off the mark.
In a way, your discovery stage is like pinning the tail on the donkey. You’re bound to go into this blindly if you neglect to gather as much information around the process as you can and give this stage the attention to detail it requires. As the first step, your discovery is the foundation for your case, and like when building anything, it needs to be solid. If you don’t learn everything you can about your current state, you have no vision or complete sense of direction for a new solution. You have essentially kept the blindfold on and are likely to miss your mark presenting what your key stakeholders want to hear.
However, think about how much value you can communicate if you don’t go into your presentation blind. Think about how much more thorough and conclusive your case will be if you share this vision with your decision-makers. If you find out everything you can about your current process, interview everyone it directly affects, and uncover pain points that represent opportunities for cost savings or efficiency gains, then you have essentially removed the blindfold. You have visibility into what isn’t working and can then pinpoint exactly what your new timekeeping solution needs to address it.
Before executive leaders will sign off on a new time and attendance solution, you’re going to need to show them where the new solution will deliver ROI. You can start by uncovering areas of potential cost savings – both direct and indirect. Direct cost savings represent the most persuasive part of your business case because they have an immediate, measurable impact on the bottom line. These include things like fewer payroll errors, reduced overtime, or decreased time-theft. However, indirect cost savings also strengthen your case by identifying those tied to the achievement of measurable business objectives, such as increasing available capacity, improving workforce productivity, or boosting operational efficiency.
In addition to pinpointing cost-saving opportunities around your core business issues, it’s also worth defining your requirements and creating a prioritized feature-function list to help you select the best-fit time and attendance system with the right features and capabilities. Areas to think about may include data collection, mobility, self-service, or system integration. This also helps you breakdown where your investment costs will be in terms of the solution, implementation resources, change management, and recurring expenses.
An easy way to communicate your vision to key decision makers is through workflow diagrams and financial analysis models. Creating a visual allows them to clearly see the value of your proposed investment. Your future-workflow diagram should display all major process steps and system components, as well as data inputs and outputs for each step. You need to detail the actions to be taken at each step, who will take them, and within what time frame.
Financial analysis models are extremely beneficial because they provide executives with an objective basis for a go/no-go decision. If you hope to successfully influence key decision makers, especially the CFO, you will have to focus on how your time and attendance solution will deliver ROI. After all, the CFO is ultimately responsible for the corporate budget and can approve or deny funding for operations and IT projects.
In assembling your financial models, familiarize yourself with key terms such as cash flow, net present value, internal rate of return (IRR), return on investment (ROI) and payback period, and reach out to your finance department’s help to assemble the preferred model. It’ll be your job to compare savings against each year’s projected costs, which will determine the projected cash flow for each year. This is the key value your decision makers are looking for.
Understanding the impact.
Work is defined by the simple fact that you get paid in exchange for an output. This exchange is the foundation in which individuals can pay bills on time, save for that vacation, or put food on the table. Ensuring your employees are accurately compensated for their time on the clock is the very foundation of trust between an employee and the employer. It is core to their employee experience at your company, which impacts things like engagement, performance and productivity.
With this understanding of work, effectively gathering time and attendance data becomes a critical component of the employee experience. Using home grown methods or even simply outdated processes can make this inefficient and just downright painful, which frustrates your people and creates a negative employee experience. Not only does a fully automated time and attendance solution help create a positive experience for your employees by removing these hassles, it also gives you intuitive tools, configurable workflows, and instant insights you need to stay competitive and profitable.