Friday, May 27, 2011

What Should be in a Business Case for CRM software?

Many charities do not create a proper business case before procuring a new database. And by a business case, I don’t simply mean a few bullet points which show why a new database is needed – I mean a comprehensive document, structured in an appropriate way which addresses all aspects of a business decision. If you do this, then you will be far more likely to succeed: you will understand your key requirements, success criteria, user involvement, constraints, risks and more; and when the project is completed, you will be able to measure its success against the criteria laid out in your business case.

So, what should a full business case encompass? Consider including the following:
  • Management Summary 
  • Project Background
  • Document Purpose
  • Document Audience
  • Business Problem / Key Issues
  • Project Objectives
  • Alignment with Strategic Objectives
  • Benefits
  • Scope (inclusions and exclusions)
  • Project Approach
  • Project Deliverables
  • Stakeholders
  • Budget
  • Timings
  • Risk Assessment
  • Resources
  • Assumptions
  • Constraints
Whether all these areas are needed and how much detail you need to include will depend on your specific project: it’s size, complexity, reach, risks, potential impact and so on. But do one – it is one of the best things you can do to focus senior managers’ minds on the real and fundamental issues involved. Especially when you ultimately ask for a budget.

(The above text is taken from my ebook, "101 Tips  on How to Buy Fundraising Software and Charity CRM Systems". To read another 100 tips, you can purchase the book here).


Jyotirmaya said...

I wholeheartedly agree with this. All too often charities fail to align their requirements with strategic objectives. The requirements tend to be dominated by what they had or were used to doing, and this was dominated by the way their previous software system worked. Strategic objectives aligned with real business needs give vendors a much better chance of providing a decent solution, as opposed to merely a replacement for what the charity currently have

Ivan Wainewright said...

Very good point, Jyoti. Although the business case is something which primarily directs the charity itself, it should certainly help vendors understand their key drivers and therefore ultimately help both parties achieve a suitable solution.

I wonder how often NFPs share their business case with vendors? I don't know if they should share the whole documents, but certainly some of the more relevant sections such as business benefits etc.