This year, organizations across industries show strong interest in revamping the technologies that they use to engage with customers. Our recent data indicates that over half of enterprise organizations have already implemented a CRM solution — and a high percentage are investing more to upgrade and expand their tool sets in the next few years. But even in this improving economy, senior business leaders are closely scrutinizing the ROI they expect from overhauling customer-facing processes and supporting technologies.

You need to build a business case correctly or risk launching CRM initiatives with a low chance of delivering clear business results. Almost as bad, poor communication of anticipated payback can prevent you from gaining funding for projects that would provide strong benefits.

So, what does a solid business case do for you?

  • It speeds up the project approval process. Clear communication leads to fewer passes through the funding process as everyone understands the goals and benefits of the project.
  • It increases  project success. When everyone knows the reasons, goals, and bounds of an initiative, project success improves. The business case serves as the North Star that keeps the project focused on key business goals and outcomes which are measurable and quantifiable.
  • It takes (some) emotion out of decisions. Decisions that involve a choice among competing platforms of large and powerful technology vendors often turn into emotionally charged battles between opposing camps within the organization. Moving the discussion to one of metrics and numbers minimizes the emotion and returns some level of objectivity back into the process.

Who needs to be involved in creating a business case?

  • The business case sponsor. Every investment proposal must have a named sponsor who takes overall accountability for the business case through implementation and the post-implementation review and who ensures that the contributors to the business case commit to their estimates and assumptions. 

  • Business area stakeholders. These are the stakeholders that will be directly impacted by a CRM initiative. They will contribute their estimate of benefits and/or costs and will be a source of requirements for the projects that the business case justifies. These stakeholders must be highly engaged — they "own" the part of the business that is being affected and should have a say in the project outcomes.
  • Business and technology management project managers. This group will provide and commit to the cost side of the business case, including implementation risks. By committing to a range of costs, they are also committing to the feasibility of the project achieving the benefits.

  • Finance. The finance organization is typically responsible for the financial models and hurdle rates. It may validate benefits valuations around cost savings and cost avoidance. 
  • Technology management steering committee. This is the decision-making body that approves and establishes a relative priority for the business case implementation. To be successful, project steering committees need to hear about the metrics and assessments around strategic objective alignment, project execution risk, the risk of benefits realization, and the project costs and benefits — this information forms the basis of their decisions.

Make sure that you have the right people in the room as you start working on your business case for CRM projects.