When you’re presenting a business case, before you can get to that ultimate “yes,” you need buy-in from stakeholders. But to get that buy-in, you must present your case so stakeholders easily grasp the need, the solution (or solutions) you’re proposing and the benefits to your organization.

Here are some quick tips to consider both before and after your presentation to make your business case approval run as smoothly as possible.

Before your presentation

Get buy-in from stakeholders. It’s critical to have two people on your side: the head of the department that will lead the work on your project and the head of the department that will benefit the most from it. With these two people on board, you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting the green light.

Lay all concerns out on the table. Most questions you get at this point shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve thoroughly prepared your business case—but it’s always better to find out what concerns stakeholders have before your presentation. You don’t want a big surprise in front of a room full of decision makers!

Adjust your presentation in response to what stakeholders say. You may adjust a few numbers or change some bullet points, but whatever you do, let your stakeholders know you’ve addressed their concerns. That way, they can give your project their full support.

During your presentation

Take a deep breath. You’ve done your research, you’ve laid the groundwork and all you need to do now is present your well-prepared case. (Looking for some ways to make sure your next presentation is your greatest yet? Here are our five best tips.

Start with the need. If stakeholders don’t believe you’ve identified a real business need that’s connected to your organization’s strategic priorities, they’ll stop listening—or even cut your presentation short.

Typically, stakeholders will care most about ROI and how your project relates to strategic objectives—so be clear and concise when stating the business need, your solution and the impact your solution will have on your organization.

Here’s an example:

Our current AP processing procedure involves 15 manual steps. The time this takes means we’re losing prepayment discounts as a result (this is the need).

So I’m proposing a new ECM system that will store invoices and documentation, and will also automate our entire AP process (the solution).

When we get it deployed, we expect to see invoice payment times drop from 20 days to 48 hours—and we’ll recoup our investment in just six months (the impact on the business).

Mention risks, and then move on. Don’t fall into the trap of going deep into the risks, trying to convince stakeholders that you’ve accounted for every possible scenario. Just mention risks at a high level so everyone is aware you’ve considered them, and then move on. For example, “We thought about the costs of upgrading hardware, migrating from legacy systems and training, and have accounted for them.” If stakeholders want more detail, they’ll ask.

Showcase your subject matter experts. If you’ve worked with other people, be sure to mention them. For example, “Bob gave me these estimates for invoice approval times and feels confident they’re achievable.” If Bob is a superstar in his department, his endorsement will mean something. And if Bob’s boss is in the room, the fact Bob was a part of this project will mean something as well.

Close your presentation on a high note. Remind stakeholders of a positive ROI, or highlight the benefits of your project. When you leave the room, you want your stakeholders to have a positive impression of you and the business case you’re proposing.

Ensure the success of your business case – check out the Document Management Software Justification Toolkit.

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