Buck Bond Group

The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 3: Making the business case

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A call to action

In our last post we talked about identifying workforce gaps as part of the second pillar of building a strategic workforce plan.

A business case is an ideal way to justify resources and investments to bring a workforce plan full circle. The business case is where all the relevant facts are documented and linked together into a cohesive story. The narrative that you build around this document is the call to action.

People sometimes misinterpret the business case as a financial document but should think of it more as part of the picture. The story that is wrapped around the metrics is going to decide its fate.

Key items that should be covered:

  • The why: Why is it needed?
  • How will it solve the issues or opportunities facing the organization?
  • What is the recommended solution?
  • How does the solution address the issues or opportunities (benefits)?
  • What will happen to the business if the efforts are not undertaken (no change, future state)
  • What is the projected time line?
  • How many resources will be needed to deliver the solution and realize the benefits?

The discipline in writing a business case allows the team to reflect on the work they have diligently worked to complete. This documentation allows it all to come together with the output being the result. Therefore, the business case serves as a wake-up call to the team prompting them to utilize their new-found knowledge about how the business will function both with and without the final solution.

The other role of the business case is to verify that the solution substantiates and meets the needs of the business. It provides a vehicle for the team to step back and subjectively review their facts and assumptions. In addition, it is vital that the team document what would happen to the business if the project is not undertaken.

The no-change, future-state scenario is the foundation upon which all benefits from the effort are derived. By documenting everything together in one story, it is easy to link the issues to the solution and the benefit, and identify where the business would be without the project. This is called scenario planning.

The development of the overall business case simplifies the development of the financial justification, and will usually identify holes or problems with the solution. Moreover, you now have a way to measure your success. This analysis also is useful for your leadership team to prioritize this project against the many other initiatives in the business that may require capital investment.

The final important role that the business case plays is to provide a consistent message to many different audiences. It is a high-level view of the entire project and enables all organizations affected by the effort (customers, management, operations, research & development, service, sales, accounting, finance, etc.) to be knowledgeable about the project.

Hoping to see you at The Ideas Economy 2012 on September 27.