Get the Green Light Right

Karen Klein

Too many complex, costly initiatives are justified by frantic hand waving, happy talk and hazy platitudes. So how do you build better business cases? Here’s a five-stage process that extends from the executive suite to the operational level, and measures a project’s tangible impact throughout the organization.

Mark Cotteleer cringes when he hears project executives say, "It's a strategic investment." The Cutter Consortium senior consultant and Marquette University Management professor says attempts to justify complex, multi-million-dollar projects with vague phrases are fraught with danger, especially as corporations have sharply curtailed their discretionary IT spending over the past several years. Besides, Cotteleer can identify with CFOs who want to know that their company's money is being well spent. "Saying something is a strategic investment is about as productive as saying, ‘This is something really cool that we want to do.’”
 
In a business climate where surveys show that 87 percent of firms require an ROI analysis for initial justification of IT projects, it takes more than vague phraseology to make solid business cases, Cotteleer says. Yet he sees project leaders struggling tremendously to truly measure the impact that a project will have throughout an organization.
 
In response, Cotteleer and his Cutter colleagues have devised a five-stage, process-based approach…

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"Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind."

- Rudyard Kipling

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