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Build Your Business Case and Roadmap

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Discover the key value levers innovation can impact.
  • Summarize questions that key decision-makers will have about your proposal.
  • List the key components of an effective implementation roadmap.

Build a Business Case

Now that you have your concept and product demo clarified, let’s turn to the business case. You won’t hear applause at the end of your presentation if you can’t talk about the financial investment required and projected benefits. The good news is, like entrepreneurs pitching an investor, it’s understood that at this stage you’re making assumptions and giving estimates. Involve members of your finance, marketing, and operations teams, because they can provide the crucial inputs needed for any financial model you build. They will likely also want to build the model.

Key Value Levers

In any business case, focus on the most critical value drivers:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Reducing cost
  • Improving productivity
  • Increasing strategic capabilities

Let’s think about the Aqua Blue team’s customer experience idea of Aqua Box. From a business value perspective, the goal of the app is to drive top-line growth by exciting customers to stay at Aqua Blue hotels and pay for additional services—translating to increased revenue. Simply put, the app is supposed to increase bookings, occupancy, and retention.

Some questions that the executive team has are:

  • What’s the market size for this opportunity? Is there actual demand or is it for fringe customers?
  • What’s the business model? Do we take a transaction fee for every box ordered? Or is it a subscription service for regular travelers? Do we share revenue with the partner vendors who contribute product to the box?
  • How do we quantify the impact to bookings and loyalty? Do we have benchmarks for the impact of value-added services on a customer’s likelihood to come back and stay with us again?
  • What do we have to price it at to break even?

To answer these questions, the team helping to make the business case have made the following assumptions:

  • Number of items in the box
  • Transaction fee per box (if that’s the chosen model)
  • Cost to fulfill and deliver one box
  • Number of boxes a guest will order per year
  • Cost of acquiring one customer or guest

The goal is to paint a picture. Ideally, that picture shows that the financial benefit far exceeds the cost of investment.

Tips for Winning over Skeptics

Senior executives are often risk averse, so how do you convert skeptics? You anticipate their concerns and have answers ready that are based on evidence.

Here is the type of criticism you might encounter and how to respond.

Executive Challenge Business Case Response
This vision is overwhelming.
  • Prove that you can deliver impact on day one (for example, publicity)
  • Phase the implementation and costs
The proposal is too expensive.
  • Demonstrate the larger market opportunity
We need time to decide on the proposal.
  • Show cost of waiting as compared to the early quick wins

Also, this suggestion might seem obvious, but don’t just copy and paste a huge spreadsheet on a slide when it comes time to present. Instead:

  • Include an executive summary with the most important business-value-related headlines.
  • Summarize the market size and opportunity, and gain some credibility with third-party data.
  • Highlight the key business levers and metrics associated with the first phase of the project.
  • Compare the financial benefits versus the costs. Make sure that the scale is tipped in your favor!

Roadmap to Success

Your implementation roadmap is closely aligned with the business value plan—it synchronizes the delivery and realization of value (the why) with the plan for implementation (the how). To get the resources you need, your decision-makers must prioritize your project as a strategic initiative.

Business impact calendar chart, business impact phases on y axis, months on y axis

Start your implementation plan by outlining things at a feature level—which aspects of the product will roll out by when. Reintroduce the concept of a minimum loveable product (MLP) and explain that initially each Aqua Box, for example, includes only clothing and shoes, not toiletries or accessories.

As part of your roadmap story, expose the capability gap between your current and future states so that it’s clear what has to be done to achieve the vision you propose. You can use three key deliverables together to communicate the roadmap to success.

  • Business capability map—The basic capabilities that make up what an organization does to reach its objectives, such as take room reservations, check in guests, and take payments, versus the specific business processes it uses to fulfill these capabilities. Your business capability map defines the most critical functions required to deliver your product or service.
  • Technical architecture—A snapshot of the systems and interfaces that deliver the capabilities required to support your business model.
  • Implementation plan—A detailed view of the timing and resourcing plan for how and when each prioritized capability is delivered to the business.

How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Bite at a Time!

Predicting the future is difficult. (What an understatement!) In business, things change fast, and who knows what the ecosystem you are competing in will be in 3, 5, or even 10 years’ time? For this reason, it’s important to tackle your project (also known as an elephant) in phases, ensuring that you deliver value and capability in appropriate proportions.

This concept is common in customer-centric product development—build and deliver small, functional improvements to elements of a product in an iterative way over time. This method helps you quickly realize value from your improvements and rapidly learn from customers.

Work with your stakeholders to prioritize the capabilities proposed and decide what they want to focus on first, second, and beyond. Use this prioritization to craft an implementation plan that they can fully support. For example, some sponsors focus on the customer-facing elements of a plan first to influence the revenue-increasing KPIs first. Ensure that you have alignment on those priorities, and build them into your roadmap.

Who Does the Work?

Resourcing is often a deterrent to delivering change in business. Can your organization handle the workload and change management needed to deliver your vision? Planning for resource support during implementation is vital. Consider how your organization funds and resources existing strategic programs. Do you build in-house? Do you collaborate with partners to implement change? How do these decisions impact cost?

Work with your stakeholders to find the best answer to these questions. Explore the implications of time, cost, and people to get the job done.

We are almost at the end of our journey—and the continuation of yours. Next you learn how to make your innovative vision go viral.

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