Building a Business Case: The Basics

Building a Business Case: The Basics

For IT leaders, building a business case is typically close to the bottom on a list of favorite job responsibilities. Yet, it’s crucial to the success of IT and getting more for less in a world where everyone’s competing for IT budget dollars.

As companies move toward the cloud, business cases are even more vital. Why? Because budgets are scrutinized each year, unlike a one-time budget for an on-prem project. Once the project is done, it’s a sunk cost. No one goes back to re-examine whether the business case was true.

Here are some basic best practices we use as we’re building business cases for organizations:

  • Plan – Don’t rush the business case! Successful business cases can take three to six months for small organizations, and up to six to 18 months for large companies. That’s why many start their renegotiations for, say, the corporate WAN as much as 18 months before it expires.
  • Investigate – Know your numbers from today’s spending and operational metrics. Take the time to get real numbers; don’t guess. Too many IT leaders estimate numbers, and they’re woefully off. That will affect the entire business case—and ultimately the important decisions you make about architecture, technology, or provider.
  • Learn – Spend time with the business unit leaders to understand what they want before spending time building the business case. You could wind up building a strong financial case for something no one wants in the business.
  • Secure – Regardless of the project, security and compliance are relevant. Understand your security constraints and changing viewpoints (particularly with cloud decisions). Involve the security team from the start, and you’ll be able to work through any issues much easier.
  • Measure – Measure your numbers, success metrics, and organizational statistics now, so you have a basis for comparison in the future. It will be tough to document success when you have no basis for comparison.
  • Explore – Cast a wide net, both for providers and service delivery. Don’t make assumptions about the cloud before actually investigating the players, costs, and benefits. And do not over-estimate savings in the cloud. If your organization has more than 250 employees, your operational costs will be more costly in the cloud. Staffing costs actually will increase by 6%, according to Nemertes research data.

As always, if you need assistance with our business case, reach out to Nemertes at

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