Business Cases: Avoid These Common Traps

With an economy that’s shifting toward expansion, many of us will have opportunities to propose new business cases in the coming months.  If you’re working on one now, or will be soon, be sure to avoid these common mistakes that can cause your business case to fail:

1. Forgetting the customer’s problem and current solution –  
business case tipsWhen you’re planning a new product it can be easy to assume “there’s no competition”.  But your customer already is solving their problem in some way (behold, your competition).  This means that your business case must provide evidence that customers will change their behavior and spend money to buy your solution to their problem.  (Expect to answer this question in your business case presentation!)

The starting point for any successful business case is a clearly defined problem statement.  Need help?  Request our free Problem Statement template for an easy-to-use format.

2. Failing to align with company strategy – You may be clear about why your business case is the perfect fit with company strategy, but unless you state it clearly, at the beginning of  your business case, your executive team is likely to miss the point.  The solution- first get clear about the company and/or divisional strategy, then make the case about how your plan ties in.  If the strategy is a mystery, see our related blog post about how to get strategic clarity.

3. Failing to prepare – When you’re standing in front of the executive team is the worst time to wonder if you’re really ready to present this business case.  Save yourself the stress and practice in front of friendly colleagues.  (Bribes of food and beverages help!)  Also, be sure to prepare a “Rude Q&A” so you have ready answers for the tough executive questions you least want to hear.  Equip your friendly colleagues with the list of questions to get some interactive practice answering them.

Bonus tip: If you need some additional business case development or presentation skills, consider our upcoming “Business Case Secrets” Distance Learning course – it’s team-taught by a veteran CFO and seasoned Product Managers, all of whom have been on both sides of the business case table.  You’ll learn what most executives won’t tell you about selling business cases, and you’ll get interactive team practice on a case study.

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