With more than 24 years of experience delivering market intelligence and competitive analysis, we have seen all types of justifications for investing in software tools. In this blog we will share a template to help you build a business case for investing in a Market and Competitive Intelligence (M/CI) Software solution.
A business case is a formal management communication document to justify and plan a project or investment by providing an opportunity overview, key success factors, assumptions & decision-making criterion, business impact analysis, sensitivity analysis, risks, contingency plans, and action-oriented recommendations.
Complete the following sections with your competitive intelligence team and/or stakeholders. Cut & paste this template into a document that reflects your corporate image, replace the text and examples we provided with information relevant to your situation and share your business case with a senior executive willing to sponsor your purchase of a market and competitive intelligence software tool. Let's begin...
[Insert Company Name or Logo]
Your Business Case – (Title Here)
[Insert Completion Date]
Completed By: [Insert Project Manager Name]
Completed For: [Insert Project Sponsor Name]
1.1. What Problem does this Market & Competitive Intelligence Business Case Solve?
2. Opportunity Overview & Key Success Factors
2.1. Opportunity Overview & Project Purpose
2.2. Project Scope
2.3. Project Schedule
2.4. Key Success Factors
3. Assumptions & Decision-Making Criterion
3.2. Recommended Decision-Making Criterion
3.3. Information Sources
4.Business Impact Analysis
4.1. Incremental Cost/Benefit Analysis
4.2. Qualitative/Intangible Business Benefits
4.3. Required Resources for Implementation
5. Risks & Contingency Plans
5.1. Key Risks to Mitigate
5.2. Contingency Plans
6.1. Action Plan
Provide a brief description of the problems that this business case was designed to solve. For example: Revenue growth opportunities: sales inability to see customer engagement makes it difficult to grow revenues (lead nurturing)
In this section, put a positive spin on the solution you are recommending. Provide a description of how this project DIRECTLY relates to current business goals and objectives. You need to obtain buy-in from your project sponsor, and projects that clearly fit organizational goals are more likely to be supported.
Document the impact your solution will have on the organization. Write from the perspective of each key stakeholder. For example:
Senior management: better visibility into market and competitor analysis via real-time dashboards
Sales: higher close rates because salespeople have easy access battle cards
Marketing: identify market trends and build thought leadership
Customer Service: ability to nurture customers & prospects
Information Technology: integrate it with other applications (CRM, Slack, etc.)
Implementing a market and competitive intelligence software solution is obviously unique to each individual business. You will need to provide a detailed document outlining the scope of the project. If you are planning on a phased approach, provide a summary of what each phase will look like from your perspective. Consider how many departments/stakeholders will be involved and document them. Also, if you decide to move forward using a phased approach, you will need to customize the following section accordingly.
Implementing a market and competitive intelligence software solution typically involves integrating data from various sources and formalizing the corresponding processes for staff in strategy, research & development, sales, marketing, and executives. Our project will be implemented in phases, with staff training included in each phase.
Phase 1: Business Objectives & Strategy – Document business strategy and align corporate objectives with the overall plan & strategy.
Phase 2: Market & Competitive Intelligence Requirements, Vendor Evaluation & Selection – Conduct an audit of current M/CI capabilities and complete a GAP analysis of current metrics vs. objectives listed in the market and competitive intelligence plan. Analyze Gaps and document requirements for the market and competitive intelligence software tool. Conduct a vendor evaluation using detailed scoring criteria and select the vendor that is the best fit.
Phase 3: Systems Integration – Add data sources from the CRM System to the Market & Competitive Intelligence Software platform and integrate the two systems. Create information capture standards that will be used to handle profile fields, notes, and documents. Import data from other lead sources, add RSS feeds and conduct testing.
Phase 4: Topic and Search Building, Automation and Reporting – Build topic and search lists, set up projects where needed and customize tagging where needed. –Additionally, set up alerts to reveal breaking news.
Phase 5: Welcome Pages & Testing – Create welcome pages for new users and organize content based on desired layouts. Review integration options for: Tableau, Salesforce and Slack.
Phase 6: Execution & Launch- The M/CI team will now be able to identify key events and activities such as investments, community news, awards, and job postings, for a particular region, market or competitor.
Phase 7: Executive dashboards and reports - Dashboards and reports will be created, based on management needs. Reports/dashboard KPIs may include: Investment News, Legislation, Executive News, Patent Filings and other activities.
Following is a sample project schedule that you can customize further:
These four key success factors will apply to any market and competitive intelligence software project.
You must establish key success factors to ensure your project is a success. Examples include: adequate budget & resources, skill sets, project sponsorship, and time to execute the project amongst other priorities.
List all the assumptions you made when creating this business case. Some examples of assumptions include: costs, savings, incremental returns, pricing, volume, or resource requirements such as expected consulting costs.
This section is useful for proposing the criterion that you believe a senior executive should consider when making a decision. The idea is to make it very easy for your sponsor to agree with your proposal, given that you have already completed the majority of the required critical thinking.
Following is a suggested prioritized list of proposed evaluation criterion:
1. Revenue and customer benefits
2. Cost-savings through productivity
3. Management performance insight
4. Time to deploy
6. Customer SLA from Vendor
7. Integration with Existing systems
8. Experience with our Industry
Where did you go to learn more about this opportunity? Are your sources of information credible? What process did you take to do the research? Some examples include: vendor discussions, whitepapers, analyst firms, conferences, peer-to-peer networking, and consultants.
This section will outline the costs and benefits of the proposed initiative. Both quantitative and qualitative (intangible) benefits need to be documented here. Additionally, providing a “High/Low” adds an element of sensitivity analysis, which provides both a conservative and optimistic outlook for your proposed initiative.
Determine the projected incremental costs/benefits over a 3-year period. Insert your cost categories, a description of each, and a high/low estimate for each. Divide total benefits by total costs and multiply by 100 to obtain a percentage. Complete this worksheet for each use-case scenario, and/or project option.
Please note: The following worksheet has been populated with a few general assumptions, which provides a suitable example for the purpose of this template.
What are the qualitative or intangible benefits that were not captured in the cost/benefit analysis worksheet?
1. Improved market & industry intelligence
2. Time saved and greater data visibility for all staff with centralized information for sales, product marketing and insights teams
3. Greater management visibility into competitive landscape
4. Improved insights for researchers and analysts which means greater ability to adjust to changing market conditions
5. Insert Qualitative Benefit #5
What are the required resources in terms of budget, staffing, consulting, or other expenditures related to moving forward with this business case?
This section will outline the key risks that need to be mitigated and provide contingency plans for each identified risk. Risks include: lack of end-user adoption, project over-time/over-budget, technical risk, and senior management commitment.
What is the contingency plan for each of the preceding risks?
What is your proposed course of action? Insert your recommendations here.
1. Approve budget
2. Approve staff resource allocation to project
3. Approve formation of Market & Competitive Intelligence Software management committee to proceed with managing and reporting on the progress of the project
Writing a clear business case for the purchase of a market and competitive intelligence tool is critical to getting the executive support you will need. Once you have your internal champion, it's time to evaluate software tools.
Cipher is a full-service competitive strategy and technology firm. We provide world-class consulting services and technology solutions that help our clients gain and maintain a competitive edge.