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Identify and Document a Business Problem

Learning Objectives

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

  • Understand how to solve a business problem.
  • Create user stories.
  • Create supporting documentation for your solution.

How to Solve a Business Problem

You have an understanding of the skills you can build using Trailhead badges and how you can use them to gain hands-on experience. Now let’s think about how you can translate what you’ve learned into a business case that’s relevant to the job you want. Here are some suggestions for choosing a business case to solve.

Check out some companies that you’d like to work for. For each company you target, follow these steps.

  • Do some research on their website to understand their business.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of their customers. Evaluate their web experience and imagine how an interaction with that company might go. What problems might customers face? Complete the Innovation Customer Discovery module to learn more.
  • Next, put yourself in the shoes of a decision-maker at that company. Imagine the types of decisions they make and the data they need to make informed decisions.
  • Examine their products and services. Consider their manufacturing process or support process. How could you make it more efficient?

Another option is to identify an issue that affects you personally and create a solution for your own use. Then demonstrate how it helped you solve a problem or reach a goal. Here are a few ideas.

  • Use Salesforce to keep track of the guest list for your wedding. Track guests’ responses to your invitation. Send reminders. Perhaps create an Account for each table at the reception and assign each guest (Contact) to a table (Account).
  • Or maybe you and your friends love to play Dungeons and Dragons. Use Salesforce to keep track of characters and their starting equipment, weapons, and gear. Take it a step further by capturing ability scores and modifiers and proficiency bonus. Finally, show off your characters in a public community page!
  • If you are fitness-oriented, create an app that tracks the number of steps you take or how many miles you ride your bike. Let your friends join. Create leaderboards to highlight the most steps and the most miles.

For more inspiration, check out the Sample Gallery. If one of our sample apps sparks an idea, use it as a starting point to build your own unique solution.

Document the Business Case

To demonstrate that you have what it takes to solve real-world business problems, you must understand how to write user stories, a business case, and a project plan to get buy-in from executive, finance, and development stakeholders.

Typical Project Documents

Document Description
User Stories
Document the user roles impacted by the problem and explain how the solution benefits users.
Business Case
To give stakeholders the information they need to approve and fund the project, describe the problem, propose a solution (with timeline), and provide a cost-benefit analysis.
Project Plan
Define milestones, tasks, work items, and deliverables.

Let’s explore user stories and the business case a little more.

Create User Stories

One of the best ways to understand, solve, and communicate a business problem and its solution is to put yourself in the role of a user. You do this in the form of a user story, which is an informal, general explanation of a software feature written from the perspective of the end user. Writing user stories with roles and goal-based statements shows that you understand the affected role. User stories help you define who your solution can help and how. You also use these stories in your demo, which we talk about later in this module.

A solution can span multiple roles. For example, with our recruiting app, both the applicant and the recruiter benefit from an automated experience.  

User stories are often expressed in a simple sentence, structured like this:
“As a [role], I want (or need) to [job task], so that I can [benefit].”

So for the recruiter app, user stories could be:

  • As an applicant, I want to hear quickly whether I’ve been accepted or rejected, so that I can prepare for the interview or move on.
  • As a recruiter, I want to quickly make decisions about an applicant and select candidates to move forward, so that I can focus on the best candidates for the role.

From these two statements, it’s clear that some automation is needed. Both users want to spend their time more effectively without worrying about manual processes or waiting for a response.

Researching the companies that might benefit from your solution, and exploring some typical roles within the company, can help you make your solution relatable.

Break the user stories into tasks.

As you think about who you're helping and how you’re solving a business problem, it’s helpful to break your user story into specific tasks. To decline an applicant, some tasks could be:

  1. Create a custom field for Decline or Continue on an applicant record.
  2. Create a mail template for Decline.
  3. Create an automatic workflow to send an email when Decline is selected.

Test that your solution meets the user stories’ goals.

A vital part of creating use cases is documenting test cases. A tester uses test cases to validate that the solution works as intended and to identify issues to be addressed.

Let’s keep thinking about the recruiting app. The hiring manager wants an easy way to tag applicants that she wants to interview or reject. A test case to support that goal could be:

  1. Select an applicant and choose Decline.
  2. Check that an automatic email is sent.
  3. Select an applicant and choose Continue.
  4. Check that the Decline email is not sent.

Be sure that you define a test case for each user story.

After you define your user stories, you can more easily describe the problem you’re solving, how you’ll solve it, and for whom. These are key components of a business case.

Create a Business Case

A business case can be a document or presentation slides. It portrays the benefits of the project and explains why stakeholders should invest in the project. A business case focuses on the product you are planning to deliver and should answer these questions.

Who What How When Why
Who will the solution impact?
What is the goal of the project?
How will the solution impact the business?
When will the project take place?
Why is the project needed?

The key is not to go overboard on the technology or your knowledge of the product. Stakeholders want to focus on the overall purpose of the project and what return on investment the project will provide. What is the benefit to the customer? How will business improve? To learn more, review the Build Your Business Case and Roadmap unit in the Innovation Solution module.

Here’s an example business case. A business case should contain these sections.

  1. Executive Summary (What? Why? How?)
    • State what the project is, why it’s needed, and how it will impact the business.
  2. Current Process
    • Show the current process flow in a diagram. Be creative here. Imagine a manual process with manual steps or highlight inefficient processes.
  3. Proposed New Process
    • Show the proposed process flow in a diagram. Describe in detail how the new process will improve efficiency and what will be automated.
  4. Recommendations (Why? Who?)
    • Explain why you are proposing this product and describe its benefits. Remember to keep it nontechnical and to highlight who will be impacted by the change.
  5. Timeline (When?)
    • Estimate the timeline at a high level, either written out or in a Gantt chart. This section details when the work will take place. This doesn’t take the place of your project plan, but gives an overview of the timeline.
  6. Financial Impact
    • Outline the budget for this project. Provide a breakdown of costs by department, and estimate how much money and time the new process will save.

On the job, you would also create a project plan to guide the project, manage resources, and monitor constraints. Project planning is beyond the scope of this module, but you can learn more in the Project Management Plan Lite module.

In the next section, you learn how to build a working demo and how to prepare yourself to deliver that demo to potential employers.

Resources