THE MAGAZINE

Make Your Case

By Nathan Boberg, CPP & Keith Blakemore, CPP

Many experts recommend that summaries span no more than a page or two, but the best rule of thumb is to know your audience. Some CFOs, for example, will read only the executive summary, so it may be necessary to include supporting details that wouldn’t fit into a two-page summary.

2.) Project description. The project description is usually the second part of the business case, and it introduces the reader to the details of the project and helps define or shape everything else in the case. This section should provide a detailed explanation of the business issue being addressed. It should include goals and objectives, performance criteria, assumptions, constraints, and milestones. Managers should include any expected benefits from the investment of the organizational resources into the project. The description of the project’s purpose should include a clear statement of the problem or problems to be solved, as well as the solution. In many ways, the results of the case are determined when the description is stated correctly. It’s important to address two primary decision components: value and priority. Executives will ask: “Is it worth it?” Answering this question requires a general understanding of what the program will accomplish and why it is important.

3.) Business impact. The business impact section should outline what business functions or processes may be affected. It should describe how the proposed project will modify or affect the organizational processes, hardware, and software. In this section, managers should explain any additional resource requirements such as staffing or training. It should also include a SWOT (internal strengths, internal weaknesses, external opportunities, external threats) analysis, which is also known as situational analysis. Specifically, this section should include the impact that the approval of the business case may have on the overall company. It should include a discussion about what services would be involved and additional risks incurred if the proposal is not accepted. The business case will involve the expenditure of limited resources towards a goal that must compete against other noble causes to further business needs. The business impact section should describe the advantages of the proposal and involve decisions that benefit the company. Costs and advantages work in opposition to each other. In general, for a business case to be successful and its arguments persuasive, advantages will trump costs.

4.) Justification. The justification section explains why the recommended project should be implemented and why it was selected over other alternatives. Where applicable, quantitative support should be provided, and the impact of not implementing the project, including the costs and risks of inactivity, should also be stated. From this information, the justification of the project is derived.

5.) Cost-benefit analysis. The cost-benefit analysis section is one of the most important parts of a business case because the bottom line is usually “does it save money or generate extra revenue?” Since corporations have historically viewed security as a necessary expenditure to reduce risk and avoid loss, it is important to help management see its financial value via a cost-benefit analysis. The purpose of the analysis is to illustrate the costs of the project and compare them with the benefits and savings to determine if the project is worth pursuing. A well-documented and supportable business case can be a powerful tool for the security professional competing for limited business resources. The business case can help decision makers prioritize how investment dollars will be spent.

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