• Jeb Dasteel

It's Your Business to Make the Case for Ease of Doing Business

Updated: May 14, 2020

According to Oxford dictionaries, the definition of “business case” is “a justification for a proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit.” That makes perfect sense, but why do I need to do this to move forward with a project that so clearly benefits our customers? It seems like the obvious right thing to do. You and I may believe that to the core, but we would be missing a crucial point.

It’s ALWAYS about demonstrating business outcomes—for our customers and for our own business, even with Ease of Doing Business. And the only way to demonstrate business outcomes is to present a business case—and then use that business case as the guardrails for what we do going forward.

So far in our Ease of Doing Business blog series we have covered:

  • Ease of Doing Business—what it means and why it’s so important in the context of all the other customer strategy things you should be looking at

  • What we are hearing from buyers and sellers about Ease of Doing Business—and what the (massive) disconnect is

  • Ease of Doing Business drivers—the typical drivers we see over and over again that have the greatest impact on customers (where the real friction is)

  • The capabilities you need to attack the big Ease of Doing Business challenges

We are confident that we have made the case for the sense of urgency that ought to be applied to Ease of Doing Business. With a good understanding of what it is, why it is important, how customers think about it, and how you begin to address it, your Ease of Doing Business program, or series of initiatives, should now be subjected to the rigors of a business case.

It’s natural to assume that a business case is all about return on investment (ROI) or internal rate of return (IRR) or other such measures of benefits versus costs. Of course, any of these is an important element of a business case but, in our experience, we believe that there are six other elements that must be included to make that business case truly complete and compelling.

The 7 Elements of a Complete & Compelling Business Case for Ease of Doing Business:

  1. Improvement Goals & Related Timeline—These are the tangible operational business and customer outcomes you seek as a result of becoming easier to do business with. These outcomes are expressed in terms easily understood by business leaders and customers. They are mapped onto a realistic timeline to show when the incremental benefits will be realized.

  2. Resources & Accountability—The implementation resources (human, financial, and otherwise) that represent your investment over the lifespan of the program. These include specific accountabilities for not just the implementation tasks, but for the continued effort to actually attain the improvement goals. This is NOT a project plan. You can depict that level of resourcing detail elsewhere.

  3. Costs & Benefits Targeted—Here are the financials. To put this together in the most compelling way, we encourage organizations to create “value trees” that map prospective Ease of Doing Business improvements to specific profitability and revenue goals, showing the linkages of the Ease of Doing Business drivers to performance indicators, and then to higher level operational metrics, and ultimately, to financial metrics. The bottom line can then be represented in whatever standard financial justification is used by the firm (e.g. ROI, IRR).

  4. Change Management Challenges & Critical Success Factors—Without a deliberate plan for driving change and employee engagement through the organization, your Ease of Doing Business program doesn’t stand a chance. This requires an honest look at the culture and politics of the organization and execution of a creative, marketing-oriented approach to engaging the organization, one employee at a time.

  5. Strategic/Competitive Analysis—Baselining where you and your customers are with Ease of Doing business is, of course, essential—but also key is understanding where your market and key competitors are. SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis has been around since the 60’s but it still works very well. Use this—or something like it—to assess how your Ease of Doing Business program will affect your customers, your competitive positioning, and your business.

  6. Value Realization—The definitive business case is great to document a moment in time, but unless you have a plan for tracking and measuring the actual value realized from that point forward, it will only get you so far. Below are some additional guidelines to follow for developing the business case: including targeting the expected benefits (the financial heart of the business case), tracking incremental progress against the business case financials through the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business program (across each of the initiatives), and then measuring actual business outcomes realized in ‘production.’

  7. Next Steps – Here is where you outline the first steps that will be taken to launch the Ease of Doing Business program. Especially important here are the “early wins” that help build the critical momentum needed to instill confidence and garner excitement for the whole program.You may be thinking that this feels a lot like a project plan and too much for a business case. Well, your CFO, COO, and CEO are far less likely to read or listen to you present your project plan and far more likely to pay close attention to your business case. And that business case has to speak their language, meaning it has to address exactly what you Ease of Doing Business initiatives are trying to accomplish: not just for customers, but for your business. It also has to comprehensively tackle the risks and rewards of the effort, putting it in the context of the market in which your business operates. All this does not mean you have to create a dissertation. Complete doesn’t mean lengthy. It just means that you have demonstrated thoroughness in thought process and analysis as you make the case for Ease of Doing Business.

Let us know what you think. If you want help, we’re here for you. Check out the Ease of Doing Business Accelerator.

Jeb Dasteel & Curtis Bingham

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