Matthijs PlakmeijerThursday, October 13, 2022

Your team is convinced of the advantages of a software tool. As a team, you agree that it will have a positive impact on the organization. But you are not there yet.

You will also have to convince the management or the board. And that is not easy. Pitching a product is not something you do every day. It also means investing extra time in addition to your regular tasks. That's why I lend you a hand. In this article, I explain how you can best approach making a business case. With Brand Portal software as an example, of course 😉.


Why a business case

The purpose of a business case is to gain support and approval for a project or purchase. Approval is mainly concerned with: the budget, the deployment of resources (e.g. personnel hours) and application of the product. In addition, it ensures that everyone is on the same page and therefore has the same expectations.


Stakeholder management

Convincing stakeholders is the most important part of your business case. They provide support. So try to map them carefully. You can then tailor the argumentation to their needs.

The communication team is of course an important stakeholder. But purchasing department is also essential. They are usually the "buyer" of the product. They often have standard procedures for purchasing products or services. Therefore, engage them at an early stage. It is a shame and annoying if you have already invested a lot of time in the orientation, but then it turns out that you have to assess three suppliers, or that there is no budget available.

A third important stakeholder is IT. They will also have standard requirements for new software tooling. They determine the position of the tool in relation to the existing systems. Often there is already a Sharepoint or other kind of intranet. Read more about the differences between an intranet solution and a Brand Portal in this article. IT will, among other things, look critically at the reason for using “another extra application”.

Tip: ask your (potential) supplier which connections are possible.


The substantiation

Start with a short but powerful substantiation. This can be done in writing, but introducing it first through an oral presentation works even better. Answer at least the following questions in your argumentation:

  • What are the problems we experience?

  • Why do we need to fix this now? What is the risk if we continue with the current working method?

  • Why this solution?

  • Why this product/supplier?

  • Short description of the solution, what is it and what does it do?


Working out the costs

Cost is of course an important part. We express the costs in terms of time and money. In this section, I am talking about direct costs and indirect costs. Also called hard and soft costs.


Indirect costs that you have to incur as an organization when using a Brand Portal solution are:

1. Education and training

The end user does not need any training to use the tool. Yet, it is important to help them on their way. Your organization is adopting a new working method. This always leads to organization-specific questions.

For example, you want to make it clear that in the future people can use images from the media bank instead of their own local storage. And that the style guidelines in the portal are now leading instead of those in the local PDF guide. Or people want to add a photo themselves, but have insufficient rights to do so. Who can they contact about this? And so there are even more possible questions to consider. The answers to these questions can be found in the Help Center of the portal.

2. Content Fill

Apart from the functionality, you will receive the portal “empty”. So you can fill the portal yourself with your own content. Often this content is already available. Think of corporate identity guidelines or media files such as images. You can easily transfer this. This also applies to the templates. Although the templates have to be set up, the design of the templates is usually based on existing designs.

What mainly takes the most time is: making choices. Do you want to completely copy all content from the current style guide? Or should only the essential topics be described? And what metadata do you want to capture when an image is added to the media bank? How do you categorize the templates, so that everyone quickly finds the right template? Which user groups are allowed/not allowed to see components? All choices that affect the adoption rate of the user group. Including mutual consultation time, this is the most intensive part of the implementation. If you tackle this quickly and effectively, you will have a ready-made portal in no time.


3. Adoption

The portal is now filled with material and content. The next goal is to get your colleagues to use the tool. So they have to adopt a new way of working. That is what makes the portal a real success. In this phase you will set up communication to introduce the user group to the system.


4. Use

On the one hand, the goal is to get many returning visitors, but on the other hand you want to prevent them from being in the portal for a long consecutive time. Because the faster you find the right file or have made an expression, the faster you can continue with your work. So this is where the time saving comes in. As a result, you spend less time in the portal than in Sharepoint, intranet, InDesign, Word or any other predecessor system.

Of course, the portal administrators will spend a little more time in the portal. Typical administrative tasks are:

  • Make adjustments to the digital house style guide;

  • Upload/approve photography for the media bank;

  • Modify or deactivate templates.


The direct costs

The quotation

These are the costs stated on the quotation. When your proposal is approved, it will be included in the annual budget. Therefore, communicate the annual costs to management. This is the monthly amount x twelve, plus the one-time implementation costs. The investment is therefore lower in the second year because the one-off costs then disappear.


Work out the return of investment (ROI)

It is essential to justify the costs to be incurred. At the beginning of the business case, you already explained some results. These are, for example: self-reliance, a communicative organization, more grip and control, consistent brand & corporate identity used, and so on. But to convince your management, the measurable results are just as important. These are the benefits that you can express in time and money. For example, for a brand & communication portal, these are measurable results:

Avoid external agency costs. You can realize 60% to 70% of all design/layout work with templates. For only 30% you will need creative/conceptual design. If you rarely use a design agency and therefore prepare everything internally, you can use that 60% to 70% as direct time savings on internal communication hours.

Optimal use of existing photography and resources. A lot of valuable material is lost or is only used by a small part of the organization. Due to the lack of automated recycle/lifecycle management, unnecessary new material is ordered or made.

Reduce or shorten manual tasks such as finding media files uploading, managing and sharing photography formatting in Word or InDesign. For example, a communication employee saves an average of 30% time with a well-organized media bank. For a regular employee, this is 10% to 15%.

Hopefully it helps you further. If you want to exchange thoughts about this, feel free to reserve a moment in my agenda.