Three tips for business-casing a technology change

September 25, 2019
by Lawrie Breen

Technology changes are something that every business considers, but often with a large dose of trepidation. Changing your technology can bring huge benefits to your business, bringing cost and efficiency savings in many areas.

One question I often get from IT and operational departments is: How do we make the case for change? Often, a well thought out business case is the difference between your project going ahead or falling flat.

Having worked on literally thousands of technology rollouts, here is what we see as crucial to ensure you get it right.

  1. Quantify the issue

The first step is to work through the issue, prove that it exists, and put numbers around it. This can be looked at in a number of ways, but when it comes to technology, I think there are two that work particularly well.

First, look at the dollar cost. That is, will technology save you money, in terms of moving from one platform to another? Any owner/management group is always going to appreciate the straight-line dollar savings argument.

It’s worth thinking about your approach to this; it’s not always so simple to calculate, particularly if you’re introducing a technology that the business hasn’t used before.

One way to look at this scenario is to consider the opportunity cost, especially relating to your staff. How much time is it currently taking them to complete the work that a new technology could alleviate?  We often find this a very compelling argument, freeing up staff to work on more client-facing, and therefore more productive, tasks. If we can make a staff member more productive by automating something, it’s a winning argument.

  1. Look at case studies

When building your case for change, it’s worth showing that you’re not the first to consider this. Understanding how other businesses have benefited from the change can help to showcase what can be achieved if you do it right.

Most vendors will happily offer you client success stories; if they don’t, that should be a red flag. I would always suggest looking for examples that are tangible, i.e. has the business in question put their name to it? Not just the business name, but have they been quoted and given examples of why it has worked as a part of their story? It’s key to understand exactly how it has transformed their business, so look for examples of how the change has impacted them in a positive way.

If in doubt, ask to speak to a client for a first-hand reference. I always encourage clients to seek a reference if they’re unsure; it doesn’t hurt to hear the story directly from the source, both the good and bad aspects. I’ve been asked directly by a number of our partners to provide a reference, and when I’ve had a good experience, I’ve always been happy to do so.

  1. Be clear on outcomes

This might sound simple, but it’s where most business cases for change go wrong. You need to be upfront on the outcomes you’re aiming to deliver. Be very clear at this point: Don’t overpromise.

Having a clear outcome means that you can provide a solid ROI around what you’re trying to achieve. When you need to report back, you can then be very clear on whether you have achieved the objectives you set out at the beginning.

It can be worth discussing this with your vendor, and looking at options to help you really understand what you’re going to achieve, for example, running a pilot or trial of the technology as a part of calculating a quantifiable ROI. It’s something that we offer our clients and means we can put our money where our mouth is.

Want to know more?

We’re always willing to discuss technology projects, it’s core to what we do. Have you found it difficult to quantify the outcome you’re getting from technology? Talk to us about how we might help.

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