In order to get stakeholders or management to approve your project, you will need to build a business case to demonstrate why the project is needed and what the benefits of the project will be when it is finished. The reasons and benefits of your project may seem perfectly obvious to you and others who are intimately involved with it, but to stakeholders and other decision makers it may not be so obvious. Oftentimes, they are dealing with a myriad of different business units and objectives and tasks that need to be done. A well prepared business case can help your project standout in the crowded field of everything that is happening in the company and might just be the key to getting approval and finances for your project. Here are the basic steps for creating the business case.
Delivering on the project is great. On time delivery, on budget delivery. Fantastic. Delivering exactly what your client asked for? Pretty nice. Delivering exactly what your client needs? Even better. Some clients expect more than we are planning to deliver. Some expect less. Setting those expectations properly out of the gate is a challenge and an art form. And it’s something that every good project manager needs to be able to guide his team to do….no matter what the project customer says or expects.
The expectation gap is more the result of a failure to communicate than it is of anything else, and this lack of communication starts at the beginning of a project and extends all the way to the end. This definitely does not have to be the case. It is the project manager’s job to utilize effective and efficient communication to sort out customers needs and to appropriately set customer expectations and team expectations early in the project to ensure the end goals are correct, are attainable, and are what the project customer actually wants and needs. Let’s look into this a bit deeper…
I realize that many of us on the project management side can’t fathom this even being a question. A project without a manager! How does that even work? Calling all project managers – have you ever been thrust into that situation on a project where the customer questions your ‘value’ to the project? They wonder why your hours are so expensive or maybe they even have their own project manager and wonder why you’re even on the project. Have you ever experienced that? Well, I have. Only once – but it wasn’t fun.
Most project managers have experienced the engagement when the customer was a little less than thrilled to be paying a high hourly rate for someone they considered to be somewhat ‘expendable.’ And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it probably will at some point. Most customers are fairly well educated in the process of project management and understand the importance of having a trained, experienced project manager leading a group of resources on a creative project designed to benefit their customer approach, greatly enhance their web presence, or possibly provide them with an entire marketing overhaul. They understand that without proper oversight, chaos would likely ensue. But there are still those customers who see the project manager being billed at sometimes the highest rate on the project and they wonder what they are really getting for their money.