I know that business cases are essential for projects (not convinced that they are right for you? Watch this video on the 3 reasons why you should think again). But often they aren’t reasonable because the focus is on financial return.
If your project is generating a ton of revenue and tangible financial benefits, then writing the business case is easy.
But how do you justify your project if you aren’t creating an impact on the bottom line?
Here are 5 reasons why your project could still be worth it, even if it’s hard to link these benefits directly to cash.
1. Satisfied Stakeholders
Oh yes, happy stakeholders are definitely a reason to do projects. Measuring satisfaction through surveys and engagement is a way to show that your project has made a difference. You can also follow this through in your post-implementation reviews.
Of course, we don’t do projects just to make our colleagues happy. This benefit makes the most difference when your stakeholders are external clients and people who can give you more cash through contracts or further assignments.
2. Better Communication
Sometimes projects are kicked off to improve team collaboration. Such as launching a new project management team tool or process improvements through the PMO that make it easier to get projects done.
Collaboration and smoother handoffs between staff should make everyone more efficient which in turn generates more revenue, but an uptick in productivity really difficult to quantify.
3. Happier End Users
So you’ve satisfied your clients and stakeholders on the project. What about those people who are going to end up using the product?
Happy customers spend more money – at least, it’s logical to assume that’s the case. But if your project just increases satisfaction levels, that’s pretty good too. Let the extra cash from their continued custom flow into the business later.
End users can also be internal staff. Many businesses kick off projects to improve software products, launch new tools and streamline interfaces between systems to make life easier for employees. These don’t generate cash for the business but they do increase productivity (assuming they work). This can help you get more done with less, which overall has an impact on the P&L.
Finally, there’s a benefit to staff retention too because it’s expensive to keep hiring staff. If they have the tools they need to do the job that helps reinforce the decision that it’s good to stay at your firm.
4. Increased Brand Awareness
Unless you work for a huge multinational household name, there are probably more people in the world who don’t know about your product than people who do.
In fact, there are probably huge amounts of people who don’t know the ‘multinational household name’ brands either.
So companies spend a fair amount of money on brand awareness and projects to raise their profile and improve their corporate image.
These projects might not be naturally tied to increasing revenue, although you’d assume that the more people who know about your products the more will buy them.
However, sometimes you just want to do an awareness campaign to set out your stall and show your company values – this is particularly the case in terms of social and environmental responsibility. While it’s commercially-minded to think that this will bring more, loyal customers in future, it often isn’t the initial goal of the project.
Green initiatives, carbon management and community and education projects such as supporting charities fall into this category.
5. Better Safety in the Workplace
These projects are linked to cost avoidance, and that can be a powerful driver for getting a business case approved. They don’t make money, because staying safe at work is kind of what everyone expects. No one wants to go to work in an unsafe environment. Safety levels are a hygiene factor.
However, not being safe at work is a huge potential cost to employers. And not only through the cost of litigation should an accident happen, or the hit on the share price should the market find out that the business isn’t running according to regulation – the human cost of injury is devastating to the team, and what responsible businesses strive to avoid.
These kinds of projects introduce new regulation, supportive policies or reinforce practices that are designed to keep everyone safe.
These justifications go beyond the simple way of looking at return on capital invested. Even if your project does have tangible financial returns, you can make an even stronger case for your project if you include non-financial benefits in your business case too.
And of course, if you aren’t generating a cash return for your company, that’s not to say that you won’t get your project approved: these are very solid reasons for investing in new initiatives.