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Ready to Use Market and Competitive Intelligence Software Business Case

Cipher

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January 29, 2020

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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.

How to Use this Template

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]

----Page Break---

Table of Contents

1.Executive Summary

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

3.1. Assumptions

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. Recommendation

6.1. Action Plan

1. Executive Summary

1.1. What Problems will Market & Competitive Intelligence Software Solve?

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)

  • Productivity: market analysts are unproductive because they are spending too much time organizing information
  • Communication: lack of communication between departments is delaying our ability to innovate and meet market needs (Process Improvement)
  • Database Integrity: data storage and quality issues must be resolved (data collection and cleansing)
  • Performance Measurement: inability to analyze competitor data and generate reports to make budget allocation decisions
  • Customer satisfaction: decentralized customer information is causing frustration for staff who do not have visibility into market forces impacting our customers
  • Time saving: staff is spending time on repetitive, manual tasks that can be automated such as saving third party data

2. Opportunity Overview & Key Success Factors

2.1. Opportunity Overview & Project Purpose

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.)

2.2. Project Scope

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.

For example:

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.

2.3. Project Schedule

Following is a sample project schedule that you can customize further:

Project Milestones

2.4. Key Success Factors

Key Success Factors

These four key success factors will apply to any market and competitive intelligence software project.

  • Budget is required for M/CI software, consultation, and training to ensure the success of the project and staff take-up.
  • Management buy-in is required to ensure the M/CI software meets the needs of the department, and ensure staff participate in the collection of field intelligence.
  • Executive sponsorship to ensure the M/CI software and project are aligned with corporate goals, and to communicate with staff.
  • Time will be required of management for detailed business analysis, and sufficient IT resources will need to be allocated on an ongoing basis to ensure success

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.

3. Assumptions & Decision-Making Criterion

3.1. Assumptions

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.

3.2. Recommended Decision-Making Criterion

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

5. Cost

6. Customer SLA from Vendor

7. Integration with Existing systems

8. Experience with our Industry

3.3. Information Sources

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.

4. Business Impact Analysis

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.

4.1. Incremental Cost/Benefit Analysis

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.

Project Benefits

Please note: The following worksheet has been populated with a few general assumptions, which provides a suitable example for the purpose of this template.

4.2. Qualitative/Intangible Business Benefits

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

4.3. Required Resources for Implementation

What are the required resources in terms of budget, staffing, consulting, or other expenditures related to moving forward with this business case?

For example:

  • Budget, per section 4.1
  • Staff Resources: IT administrator & marketing analyst – X hours/week
  • Management in Sales, Marketing,
  • Commitment to cooperate with M/CI team on business requirements, training, roll-out to their staff

5. Risks & Contingency Plans

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.

5.1. Key Risks to Mitigate

For example:

  • Lack of management commitment
  • Lack of end-user adoption
  • Technical risk

5.2. Contingency Plans

What is the contingency plan for each of the preceding risks?

For example:

  • To ensure commitment of managers in sales, product marketing, and corporate strategy departments, there will be a virtual committee/team formed for the Market and Competitive Intelligence Software project. This team will be led by (Insert name), and their job will be to identify specific business requirements, ensure two-way communication with staff, identify training requirements, and measure benefits gained.
  • To ensure buy-in from staff, the committee will be responsible for establishing a communication plan with a phased implementation. Management will also communicate upcoming changes with staff, highlighting the benefits of the M/CI software to staff. After each phase of implementation, the group will gather feedback from the staff to incorporate updates or changes in the next phase.
  • Technical risks will be mitigated by ensuring our current IT infrastructure is compatible with the system, including email, mobile devices, and back-end systems.

6. Recommendation

What is your proposed course of action? Insert your recommendations here.

6.1. Action Plan

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.

 

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Cipher

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.