5 steps to build your new websites business case
So you’re a marketing professional about to initiate a project to redesign your company’s new corporate website, customer portal or other digital product. How do you convince management to invest in it? Easy. Present a business case they can’t ignore. Great idea! But… how do you get started? Your initiative might be based on a hunch, you might have data to back it up, or it’s just painfully obvious action is needed. Whatever it is by following these five steps, you will be able to build a strong business case.
Before we dive into the steps, let’s define what a business case is. Wikipedia uses this definition:
“A business case captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task. It is often presented in a well-structured written document, but may also come in the form of a short verbal agreement or presentation.”
Within it the elements to be assessed are the business problem or opportunity, benefits, risks, costs, proposed technical solutions, timescale, operational impact, and required capacity.
Sounds like a lot of work? It doesn’t have to be. For pragmatists; involve your agency or reach out to one or two, to help you write it. It might not be your day job to write a new website business case, but it is for most business development teams within agencies. No company is the same, nor are their objectives, but their challenges are quite similar. More often than not, there’s ample industry research available and tool stacks whirring to capture data.
Don’t want to skip the line? Follow these 5 steps to help you build your company’s new website business case.
Step 1: context
Create context. If I could only tell you one reason why context matters, it would be the relationship created between you and your audience. Don’t expect management (your audience) to have the same perspective. Connect with their perspective. Set the stage. Your stage. Make sure to align it with your company’s business strategy. It will help them absorb everything that’s coming after easier.
List the most important business pains - from the business and from the customer perspective. Aren’t you converting (quality) leads? Does it takes days to build a marketing landing page? Need your agency to make content changes? Or is the performance a downright disaster? Pains are hurting your business, operations or customer experience.
Step 2: objectives & result setting
Now you’ve created context and identified the most important pains, it’s time to create the project objectives and what it is you want to accomplish. A methodology commonly used to do is the Objectives and key results (OKR) framework. It helps define and track objectives and their outcomes. A framework used by companies such as Google, Hubspot, Amazon and many more. It is a simple tool to create alignment and engagement around measurable goals. The goal of OKRs is to define how to achieve objectives through concrete, specific and measurable actions.
OKR: A framework used by companies such as Google, Hubspot, Amazon and many more.
It’s recommended to have at most 5 Objectives with 4 Key Results per Objective. The Objectives should help solve the identified pains, and align with your company’s purpose. Don’t forget to make them measurable and use 90 day cycles.
Pain: Customer’s dislike our company’s portal, causing high churn rates
Objective: Increase customer retention
You’ve just created a canvas to work with. Run the numbers and show the impact when the business meets Objectives, 70%, 50% or 25%. We’ll also use this canvas to justify the budget in Step 4. Now, you go and create yours.
Step 3: risks
Business are risk averse, so make sure you mitigate yours. First step; identify them and create a measure or set of measures to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with your project.
We often combine risk mitigation strategies with McKinsey’s 'Three Horizons of growth’. Although it wasn’t developed as a risk mitigation tool, it can help structure our thinking about the Objectives. It describes 3 patterns or ways of doing things and how their relative prevalence and interactions evolve over time.
- The first time horizon, H1, has a clear focus on the core business, or Efficiency. Its focus is to Optimize the status quo.
- The Market-Creating, H3 or disruptive innovation is where new products are created under conditions of extreme uncertainty. Its focus is to Disrupt.
- Between those two is H2 or Sustaining innovation, looking at improving existing products, moving products into adjacent markets or addressing additional customer segments. Its focus is to Transform.
Now place your Objectives in either one of these Horizons. To be on the safe side, make sure most of them are in H1. If most of them are in H2 or H3, you either have a great vision or you are setting yourself up for failure.
Oh, and don’t forget to include the risk of not pursuing the project. You want to present a balanced risk assessment.
Step 4: justify the budget
To justify your budget, take a look back at the canvas created in step 3. Meeting those Objectives will have positive impact on the business. Run the numbers and see what they show. The budget will present itself. Don’t spend it all, the business should profit from it. Run the numbers and see what they show.
Factor these line items into your justification:
- Internal resources (time) needed
- Travel expense
- Agency fees
- Software integration fees
- Software fees
- Media fees
- Content development fees
Don’t forget to share the project timeline and communicate a clear deadline. Make sure you believe it’s feasible, and stick with it. All the way through securing the budget into your project.
A rule of thumb for timelines is:
- $25,000 - $50,000 - 1-3 months
- $50,000 - $100,000 - 3-6 months
- $100,00 - $250,000 - 6-9 months
- $250,000 - $500,000 - 9-12 months
- $500,000 - $1,000,000 - 6-12 months (not a typo, you will work with larger teams able to efficiently perform more tasks simultaneously)
As a final step, include your project approach. Research methodologies or agency philosophies you feel comfortable with. Well structured, proven, and easy to comprehend. Management will use it to validate whether they are making a solid investment.
Please find a list of key results to serve as inspiration. It’s far from comprehensive:
Step 5: sell the dream
Our last step is to Sell the dream. I’d like to hammer home just how important it is to convince management you believe in your project and ideas and make them as passionate about it as you are. You will be running the show. Although your plan might be a solid as can be, if they are not convinced you will go the extra mile to make it a success, they will not release the budget (you asked for).
Always be thinking BIG. Connect your project to the company’s BHAG. To sell the dream you have to believe in the dream and keep thinking about the dream, if you do your message will come across with ease and will flow from your heart to theirs.
So how do you build a powerful business case for your new website?
- Create context
- Objectives & result setting
- Mitigate risks
- Justify the budget
- Sell the dream
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback.