.

22 June 2008

Fundamentals Matter for Web 2.0 Business Cases

Explanatory note - this post is from the perspective of implementing web 2.0 within an enterprise. As per Nick Gonios' very good suggestion in the comments below, if you doing it yourself as a startup just go for it (check out his comment for the details).

At a recent conference I ran a workshop about building business cases for web 2.0 and one of the feedback responses was that the person was disappointed that all I talked about was 'generic business case' stuff.

The funny thing is that I see so many business cases for web 2.0 or enterprise 2.0 projects that fail to gain traction or ultimately fail to deliver business benefits precisely due to a failure to prepare a good business case.

The important thing to understand is that the nature of the technology proposed is almost irrelevant, more relevant are the following:

  • how the technology supports the overall business strategy - you have no business proposing it if it does not support or extend the business strategy

  • what the story or narrative is that makes sense of the proposed technology for the business - any new technology adoption is a change program and needs to be driven as such

  • how to bring all the various parts of the business together to gain benefit from the new technology - stakeholder engagement and management

  • how the new technology will drive changes in operational areas of the business - how business processes, staffing, other resources will need to adapt to deliver and support the new technology

  • the current internal capability to deliver the technology - this is at both technical and business operations levels, also often people don't want to call in experts
That is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is the absolute basics. Whether you are putting forward a business case for web 2.0 or some even newer and funkier technology get the fundamentals right and success will flow.

If you are unable to put together the story of why the proposed technology will improve the business somehow then that is a red flag. It's a sign to go back to the drawing board and keep working on the idea. Bad projects always start badly, the business case is often where the rot sets in. A good business case is a sound foundation for execution of a project.

There is lots of good advice out there on how do deliver successful projects, and some exposition of project failures. Check out some of the links below...

IT Project Failures
Gantthead
Australian Institute of Project Management
Project Management Institute
ProjectManagement.com

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

2 comments:

Nick Gonios said...

With many years of both enterprise and web start up experiences, I would say to the notion of a business case is - just get on with it!

Start a with a prototype to validate that it can work technically (e.g. you can get a web site up)

Then, invite real people who would be your target members / customers / audience to start to use it and gather feedback.

Then, you have a case to work with for whatever you need investment for.

The collective team's passion should get your to this point. If not, form a team that will!

Google's 70/20/10 rule is a perfect example of this......

Finally, business cases to get started with a project are a reflection of the lack of innovative culture across "lazy" enterprises. :)

Kate Carruthers said...

Nick from a startup perspective your advice is spot on. But from a corporate perspective - i.e. trying to get web 2.0 initiatives off the ground within an enterprise setting - then you need to get funding & support first. I reckon that's a prime reason (if you think your idea has legs) to go out & just do it yourself as you suggest.