Do you need to improve corporate information systems? Try this quick quiz:
- Is your organisation is struggling with the management of all the digital information that the business is generating?
- Are you trying to introduce standards in the way information is managed?
- Are you hamstrung by the over-use of network file shares that are managed departmentally?
- Are you unable to apply any corporate control to records and information?
- Has your organisation had to respond to a subpoena or discovery request and it has taken days, or even weeks, to get the information and records together.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Do you have budget to solve any of these problems? How should you go about getting support, funding and approval for a solution to solve the above problems? What should that solution be?
The Business Case for EDMS and better information management
The business case is the tool to get executive support, outline the current problems and define a new future state whilst identifying the benefits, risks and financial impact to possible solutions.
A well written, well prepared solid business case will help make your project stand out from the crowd and demand attention from those executives who make the decisions. The business case will be the key obtaining the dollars for your project.
What are the most important things to get right when developing your business case?
1. Link your project to business priorities
Determine what the current priorities are for the business and align your project to those priorities, take an organisation wide approach and identify what the organisation’s position is on the management of digital information – what other projects are going on in this space? what would be the impact to your project? where are there alignments? Can your project leverage off another project, like cloud technology or infrastructure refresh, or vice versa?
2. Capture your vision/have a clear purpose, determine scope & boundaries
You must have a very clear vision of what the project will deliver and what the money will be spent on. For example, do you want to implement an electronic document management system; what is the purpose of the system implementation? Will it solve work process problems? Will it integrate with other business systems and applications? Will it replace the shared drive environment?
When working all this out you need to determine what needs to be included, so there are no surprises at the end of the day. To do this you need to get the team together to plan, analyse and scope the project.
Here are your must do’s:
- Communicate with the decision makers.
- Undertake wide consultation across the organisation in all areas of the business. Very importantly involve the right people – find the right people who have the right information and can answer your questions. A lot of time can be wasted if you don’t get to the right people and engage with them early in the process.
- Identify a champion to support and further your cause. This champion must come from the higher echelons of the organisation to ensure that the business case does not fail.
- Govern the project through a cross functional working group or steering committee to ensure all organisational concerns/initiatives are addressed
3. Identify key stakeholders
Any project that involves management of an organisation’s digital records and information is going to impact all parts an organisation. It will/may dramatically change the way some business processes occur or may cause some aggravation between departments if there are conflicting agendas.
An analysis of your stakeholders will determine what their concerns or objections might be. These concerns will be different across stakeholder groups and must be addressed. Determining how best to manage these concerns/objections will be addressed in your business case. For example, using communication themes and messages directed at different stakeholder groups is one option.
4. Identify key risks
Identify your key risks, ascertain the impact the risk will have and the consequence of that impact to the project and to the organisation and determine strategies to mitigate those risks. The risk assessment will feed into your project planning documents.
5. Identify benefits
Benefits are a key focus of a business case. It is important to describe and quantity all benefits associated with your project.
Thorough identification and understanding of benefits will provide evidence that the proposal will be effective and represents value for money. It should also demonstrate how the proposal is the simplest and most cost-effective solution, or how it is superior to other simpler or more cost effective solutions. Identifying and understanding benefits also provides insight into how they can be measured, when they are likely to be realised, and what risks are associated with them.
Source: Benefits Realisation Management Framework, Part 1: Principles, NSW Government, June 2014
But there are some benefits that are very difficult to quantify, e.g. how do we place a cost on a benefit such as ‘supporting management, design and construction decisions’. The implementation of new systems will facilitate faster and reliable access to information, reduces errors and project overruns, encourages data re-use, supports better procurement and executive decisions, and can reduce operation costs – but how do we quantify that type of benefit?
6. Understand the financial impact
Often when developing a business case the financial impact may be underestimated. For example, a digital implementation project is not just about software licenses or monthly cloud subscriptions. Other financial impacts are:
- The number of internal and external staff required and the cost of those staff.
- Training – elearning, face to face, computer labs.
- Additional hardware – does a new system mean an upgrade to desktop PC’s or laptops? Are new servers required?
- Implementation costs – technical services and professional services required from vendors.
A white paper on EDM Return on Investment prepared by DataCore Technology, Inc. stated:
It is commonly recognized that those companies that cut costs on training tend to have longer deployment times and therefore lower ROIs. In addition, companies that spend less on training tend to have higher system administration and Help Desk costs. Training is an area where it may be tempting to cut costs but the cost ramifications tend to be fairly obvious and recurring year after year.
Recordkeeping Innovation are experts in of business case development and implementation of information management frameworks for better management of information assets and getting control of your digital records. Learn more at http://www.records.com.au/
About the Author
Adelle Ford has worked in the information and records management sector since 1979, having been employed in various capacities by both public and private sector organisations. Adelle has developed records management policies, strategic plans and operational procedures for large scale organisations operating in legislatively complex business environments. As a consultant to Pillar Administration, Adelle was responsible for project managing the organisation’s Records Management Program, and designing and implementing policies and procedures. Adelle has experience in TRIM administration and in project implementation. Having conducted a number of functional software specifications, Adelle possesses a sound knowledge of a number of EDRMS products and is experienced in software configuration. Adelle has taught records management courses through Sydney Institute (TAFE).