Making the Case Part 4: Building the Business Case
The “job” of the business case is to create a compelling argument backed by evidence to make an informed judgment as to the validity and vitality of the subject opportunity amongst all other opportunity choices in the project portfolio. But let’s not get the cart before the horse!
Recall from our previous post – it’s the process of transforming a “good” idea into a wining business strategy that is the true value of making-the-case. The process is based on validating the idea’s potential against the established criteria your company uses to make the best judgment possible in giving the green light to develop and commercialize the concept. The point is:
In “making-the-case” a very possible and for that matter – desirable outcome is to kill the idea off during the discovery phase when evidence begins to prove the idea can’t be transformed into a winner. Don’t present “dogs” to the executive screening team! They are depending on you and your team to do the upfront work to identify winners not losers.
As Dr. Cooper has stated (paraphrasing) “kill those puppies early in the process!” Harsh as that sounds, this is a good outcome versus falling in love with an idea too early on and force fitting data to make the case. While we definitely want to “sell” our concept to the executive screening team in the best light – don’t hoodwink them. If you do you will lose your credibility which will bring undesirable consequences for your future.
The process of collecting data to fit our believe system is called “cognitive bias” and it happens all the time, not just in product development. Cognitive bias can skew data collecting and interpretation to suit and justify any argument one way or another. This is often what gives market research and the “scientific process” a bad rap. I have seen some amazing manipulation of research to rationalize poor decisions. A topic for a future blog thread. Suffice to say the way out of the trap is to establish in the discovery phase (i.e. before the formal product development go/no-go gate) a structure that establishes and validates the core market and business criteria:
· The need/pain or job to be done
· The proposed solution, benefits, or desired outcomes.
· Why the customer will buy from us
o competitive advantage
· The business case:
· Market scope who, what, where and how.
· Potential business opportunity (rough order of magnitude)
· Strategic fit
The bullet points above represent a typical template to create an initial Product Opportunity Statement and provides a good starting point for making the case. I am assuming the Product Opportunity Statement is an output in your Phase 0 opportunity discovery and screening process – and some level of thought and energy has been applied to establish that the idea under consideration is worthy to apply resources in making-the-case.
While we shouldn’t expect a lot of detail at this step, and recognize that there are more questions than answers to be resolved, we should expect that we have applied our best judgment in deciding which concepts to move though the idea-to-launch framework. This is how the iterative process works and is the fundamental principle behind an idea-to-launch framework.
Next blog I’ll talk a bit more about the scope and attributes of a making a good case. In the meantime start thinking on how to integrate your idea-to-launch framework in “making-the-case.”