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The Case of the Ignored Business Case

By | December 27, 2016 in ITSM

Ignoring the ITSM business case

“What advice do you have when your business case for ITSM is created but ignored?” This is what @sysaid tweeted to me in reply to my tweet regarding my blog The Case of the Missing Business Case.

What a great question!

As I talk about in my original blog, every IT service management (ITSM) implementation should begin with the development of a business case. The business case provides IT with an opportunity to demonstrate its understanding of the business it serves by objectively discussing the opportunities, risks, benefits, and deliverables of the ITSM implementation – in business terms. A well-written business case articulates the needed investments, in terms of people, time, and money, as well as how ITSM implementation supports business goals and objectives. It helps make the ITSM implementation a business initiative, enabled by IT, and not just another “IT project.” But most importantly, the business case secures the first critical deliverables for any ITSM initiative – senior management investment and support.

”Yes, I did all of that, but…”

You wrote a strong business case. You addressed all of the pertinent topics.  And your business case gets ignored.

Now what? Has all of the time developing and writing the business case been for naught?

Don’t give up just yet. Here’s 7 things you could try.

First, check yourself. Objectively review your business case from the perspective of senior management. Are your assumptions reasonable? Have you clearly articulated resource needs and anticipated benefits. Is the business argument strong enough? Have you demonstrated that you will be a good steward of the company’s funds?

Engage your sponsor. If you identified a sponsor in your business case, get that person involved. Ask for guidance and support for gaining approval of the initiative.

Engage key stakeholders. Identify and meet with key stakeholders. Discuss how ITSM can help alleviate pain points or enhance performance for their specific issues. Not only will you build relationships, you may even learn some things that may further strengthen your business case. Gain their support and ask them to advocate for your proposal.

Publicize (really publicize) goals and measures. Assuming you have the ability to collect some of the measures regarding the goals defined in the business case, start publicizing them. Post goals and current measures on an intranet page, outside your cubicle or office, in the break area – anywhere where people will see. Explain how not meeting these goals is impacting the organization and how ITSM would help. In the words of Dr. John Kotter, you want to “establish a sense of urgency.” Using measures helps build credibility and a sense of urgency for the business case.

Conduct an experiment. Can you “try out” a small part of the ITSM implementation? Take a current data sample to do a tabletop exercise to confirm assumptions or anticipated benefits of the implementation. Then, share the results with your sponsor and your key stakeholders to further enable their advocacy for the ITSM initiative.

Execute the communication plan. As part of the business case, you most likely developed a high-level communication plan regarding the initiative. Execute it! Look for opportunities to talk up the benefits and risks that you described in the business case. Go to staff meetings; do a roadshow; publish an article on your corporate intranet site or newsletter. The goal is to attract attention and gain grass-roots support for the ITSM implementation.

Sometimes the timing just isn’t right. Keep in mind that due to business influences beyond your control, sometimes even the best-written business cases aren’t immediately approved. Don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean that the ITSM initiative wasn’t a good idea; perhaps there are other business priorities that must be addressed first. If you find yourself in such a situation, use it as a learning opportunity and ask for feedback from those senior managers who reviewed the business case. Doing so demonstrates that you care and are committed to the success of the business. Good ideas are good ideas – and including feedback from senior managers in the next version of the business case will make for a stronger business case!

Persistence Pays Off

I once had a former manager tell me “if you don’t believe in your story, then you can’t expect anyone else to either.” You’ve built a good business case.  Win hearts and minds through positive persistence – it will pay off!

Doug Tedder

About Doug Tedder

Doug is an ITSM and process improvement consultant, trainer, and accidental social media savant, enabling IT organizations to transform, sustain, and grow real business value. An active volunteer in the ITSM community, Doug is a frequent speaker and contributor to industry user group meetings, webinars, blogs, and national conventions.

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