Nonfinancial benefits and costs can prove helpful in a business case, but are often overlooked. Issues such as “better workplace safety” or “intellectual property loss” are often omitted because they can be difficult to quantify. But nonfinancial outcomes are a part of every proposition, and cash flow statements or other budgeting tools can be blind to them. Managers should include intangibles such as “shorter customer wait time” or “improved employee parking” as they are real benefits that affect the business. Some of the intangibles that may affect a business case without involving cost are worker productivity, process improvements, employee morale and retention, corporate culture, risk mitigation, workplace safety, increased awareness, and improved compliance. Some “intangibles” can also be translated into financial terms. For example, a new security device could reduce the time that employees spend going through inspection at facility entrances, and it may be appropriate to multiply staff salaries by the amount of work time saved by the new device. (These and other examples of quantifying “soft” security benefits can be found in The United States Security Industry: Size and Scope, Insights, Trends and Data, ASIS International/IOFM, 2014.)
6.) Alternatives and analysis. When developing the alternatives and analysis section it is imperative to identify options and alternatives to the proposed project. Further analysis of these potential options should be performed to identify a preferred solution. The following key questions should each be answered in a separate section.
How will we get there? This section should present viable options and associated costs that are analyzed and used to determine a recommendation.
What is the best option? This question could be answered by conducting a financial appraisal to ascertain funding and affordability in relation to benefits and risks.
While all phases in the business case development process are necessary, the analysis and recommendation phases are considered the heart of the business case. The analysis will also be helpful to the leadership team in prioritizing the project against many other projects in the business that may require capital investment and resources.
7.) Recommendation. When the recommendation section is read it should clearly bring closure to the business case. It summarizes the approach for how the project will address the business problem. Most cases offer options to consider that include full adoption of the proposal, a blended or middle possibility, and a “do nothing” option. A business case can provide as many options as are necessary, including options for a phased approach that considers limitations due to budget or staff. It is important to make sure the recommendation is clear and concise. This section should also describe how desirable results will be achieved by moving forward with the project. The recommendation should flow naturally from the evidence presented in the earlier sections of the report. Conclusions should refer directly to the business impacts and justification, drawing out the business advantages from the analysis sections.
8.) Approvals. The final section is for approvals, which is the ultimate goal of the business case. Once approval is granted or denied, the business case becomes a historical document to support project implementation and future associated development. Further, this historical document provides accountability for related projects and strengthens the foundation for security’s future procurement and development activities.
The proper research, combined with understandable metrics and presented in clear and concise language, can result in a winning business case. Learning to compile a business case can improve a security professional’s chances of gaining approval for projects and promoting the department within the organization.
Nathan Boberg, CPP, is the west regional security manager for Progressive Casualty Insurance where he oversees the physical security program. Keith Blakemore, CPP, is the director of corporate security for W. W. Grainger.