Project Management

Need to Convince Management? How to Build a Business Case

Mass Bay Chapter

Johanna Rothman, known as the "Pragmatic Manager," offers frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams learn to see simple and reasonable things that might work. Equipped with that knowledge, they can decide how to adapt their product development. Her recent books are the "Modern Management Made Easy" series and "Create Your Successful Agile Project."

As an agile project manager, Anne worries about her team’s inability to release features faster. Right now, it takes them a week to prepare a release. The automated tests need three days to run because the machine is so old. Then the build system takes another two days.

Because everything takes so long, the team starts new work before it really completes the older work. Worse, the team members thought they were done with the older work. When the tests or the builds fail, team members have to switch back to what they did before.

As a result, everything takes too long and costs too much.

Anne decides she wants to convince her management that they need to invest in new machines for testing and to update the build system. She needs a business case to explain the problems, the costs, and the possible solutions.

Anne knows her boss, Marty, is a business-savvy leader. He wants more agility so the products can attract and retain more customers. So, Anne will focus her case on what Marty needs to know.

A business case describes the current situation, the various benefits of changing that situation, and then the options and their benefits.

Anne starts by describing the current situation, in terms of what matters to Marty.

Describe the Current Situation
Here’s how Anne described her team’s situation:

We all want more agility in the organization. …

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If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?

- Will Rogers