Ask the Expert: Are There Best Practices for Business Cases?

By Pragmatic Institute August 09, 2007

Are there best practices for business cases? Is there a standard way to develop a business case for my products?

In our consulting and training, we focus on best practices but we also focus on practical ones—things that product managers can realistically do. Best practices would include extensive budget money for market research and travel but since we rarely have this, there are other ways to identify and quantify the market needs.

In terms of business planning in particular, anybody doing a business case should be calling out, “Here’s the market segment that has a clearly understood problem; we understand the buyer and user persona; and furthermore, no one is focusing on the segment so we have a chance to be a dominant player.”

Instead, many vendors say, “Wow, there are a lot of people in ERP right now, so maybe we should build an ERP product because it would be really fun to work on.” The problem is, there are already dominant players in that space. With PeopleSoft, SAP, Oracle, and any number of other vendors already there, can you possibly be one of the dominant vendors? The answer is “no.” So instead, maybe we can focus on a market segment like doctors, or hospitals, or insurance reimbursement for small body shops, and the more focused we get with a market segment the more we can find a group of people that have not had their problems solved by a generic solution.

In terms of best practices in a business case, we want to be able to say, “Here’s a market segment where we can leverage our distinctive competence and dominance is an option.” Typically, we also need to know how to communicate through the business case to our executive team. They are less interested in geek-speak and more interested in financials so show executives where they can get 30% market share in a reasonable time frame and that profit is ultimately going to be the result. Fundamentally, focus on a market segment while leveraging your distinctive competence and dominance is an option.


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Categories: Strategy Positioning
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Pragmatic Institute

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