Updated: Dec 2, 2021
The “War for Talent 2.0” is hotting up, attracting, engaging and hiring top talent has never been more difficult. You have the attention of your leadership team. Looking at your tired HRIS suite or legacy recruiting tech, you might be thinking, “Is our talent tech really up to this challenge?” It’s time to invest in an upgrade, and that means building a business case to convince the higher-ups it’s a good idea.
There is no “one size fits all” template for business cases, particularly one for an investment in talent tech. Every organisation is going to have different standards, different protocols, different needs. So, we can’t just give you the “magic bullet” PowerPoint deck that will guarantee success, instead, we can teach you a five-step process that will wrap around whatever submission standard your company requires.
Our five-step process
Throughout our years of experience in building winning business cases for talent tech, we’ve boiled our strategy down to 5 key steps:
Most business cases fail to win support because they try to skip ahead to step 5, but steps 1 to 4 are a crucial investment to fix the odds of approval in your favour.
Step 1: Identify the problem
People occasionally get so wrapped up in building the solution that they forget about the problem it was supposed to solve. Always start by identifying and documenting your main problem statements. Ask yourself:
What are the biggest issues (e.g: time, cost, and quality) with your current TA approach and recruitment process?
Where do you lose candidates in the hiring process?
What do hiring managers complain about the most?
Read our article “Re/designing your Talent Tech Stack” where we recommend identifying and documenting problems and pain points via workshops or interviews with recruiters, HR, Hiring Managers (and any other stakeholders).
Benchmarking (with data) your team against other organisations is a useful way of identifying pain points. The delta between your team's metrics and the industry average can show how far ahead or behind you really are.
If you're unsure of where to start, talk to us about a one off project or our TA Ops as a Service offering.
Step 2: Map stakeholders, build consensus
This is often the most time consuming and challenging step in the process. Picture yourself in the shoes of a political lobbyist or whip, working the halls of parliament. Prior to a vote on legislation, you meet with party members, understand their needs, concerns and objectives, and adjust your legislation to suit. It’s exactly the same with your business stakeholders; show shared interest by articulating your problem statements in terms they understand and care about, and use their feedback to adjust your business case.
In the real world
A mid-sized, national retailer I was advising last year followed the process outlined here but made a big assumption: that their CFO was only interested in money. So, they planned a pitch to him that focused mainly on ROI and payback period. Two minutes into the pitch, the exec put down his pen and said “Based on the solution's ability to mitigate compliance and security issues in the current process, this should be approved”. They didn’t even get to the financial portion of the pitch. Putting in the early work to gauge what was really important to him instead of simply assuming could have saved everyone a lot of time and effort.
Keep in mind that each stakeholder group will have a different interest level. Align problem statement messaging to appeal to concerns of each stakeholder group.
Add stakeholders to an Influence: Risk matrix to help you prioritise discussions and tailor messages.
Step 3: Review the market
This is the fun part of any big project, and the temptation to skip steps 1 and 2 and jump straight into the “beauty pageant” of product demos is a trap many teams fall into.
But you should absolutely do your due diligence before getting started: walk into the process with thorough market research that has identified a solid shortlist of potential partners that meet your business needs. Avoid over or under buying by assessing your vendors on their ability to solve the problem statement addressed in step 1, rather than the flashiness of their presentation.
With over 2,500 HR tech vendors in the market, whittling them down to a shortlist can be an absolute nightmare. Luckily, Talent Tech Solutions can help you sort the chaff from the wheat, as our extensive experience with these vendors means we can hone in on the ones that are right for your unique circumstances.
At this point, remember that you’re not buying anything yet. You’re still gathering information, with two main goals in mind:
Identify vendors with the potential to solve your problem statement and enable strategy.
Receive information required to prepare detailed budgeting. i.e. indicative pricing, implementation plans
Step 4: Quantify the benefits
In many cases, the success or failure of a business case boils down to a simple financial analysis to estimate the profitability of potential investments: ROI, Payback Period, and IRR (Internal rate of return).
You need to demonstrate that you’ve taken into account the total cost of ownership (capex / opex) and when estimating benefits, that you can back up the assumptions you’ve made. According UNLEASH research 2020, out of 700 HR Tech projects:
Only 22% were delivered on budget
Only 16% were considered ‘highly successful’
Only 19% were delivered on time
With “failure to allocate adequate resources” listed as one of the major factors behind unsuccessful projects. If you don’t think you have the specialist resources required to properly implement the project, then it’s time to contract a partner who can.
Don’t fail at resource allocation: get on the right side of the stats and budget appropriately. Consider contracting external specialist resources.
Use a firm like Talent Tech Solutions to source industry benchmark data to use when underpinning budget assumptions.
Step 5: Business case
Congratulations: you’ve finally made it to the end of the process and can get started building your actual business case. You’re here because you’ve done extensive consultations and built consensus with key stakeholders over the past few weeks and months, and you should be confident of getting approval.
Remember that the stakeholders reviewing and signing off business cases are busy: yours may not be the only business case they are reviewing that day. Help them out by keeping it short, simple, and to the point.
Your organisation will likely have an existing standard or template. Every organisation is a little different. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Commonly the business case will contain the following sections
Background & Problem Statement: alignment to business strategy, objectives.
Recommendations: Gold, Silver, Bronze (all should solve for key problem statements)
Financial evaluation: costs, benefits, key metrics
Implementation: timeline, resourcing, as is and to be process, interdependent projects, governance
Providing alternative solutions, or variations on the solution, can give the stakeholders some agency in the decision, and shows that you are flexible and willing to compromise.
Building a business case is a very important first step for any project: after all, if you don’t have buy-in for the project, it’s dead in the water. But it’s important to note that even this first step has its own “first step” (or four), and skipping ahead without doing your due diligence and research might seem like a shortcut now, but will come back to haunt you when your review committee sends you back to the drawing board because you didn’t consider X, Y, or Z.
Talent Tech Solutions are the leading talent technology advisory and implementation partner in the Asia Pacific region, helping organisations leverage technology to transform how they attract, engage, hire, develop, and retain top talent. With over a decade of local and international experience, Talent Tech Solutions is proudly independent, technology and operating model agnostic, with a clear purpose of helping companies win with Talent Tech.
We can help you throughout the entire business case process, and even further beyond into selection, implementation and optimisation of your ideal Talent Tech Solution.
Interested to find out more? Get in touch, no pressure, just a casual chat about your TA vision and challenges.