The handling of general customer enquiries is creating a huge draw on resources within the GasEl Service Centre. In this assessment, working in groups you are required to prepare Business Case to justify an investment in a web based FAQ facility to GasEL management. In your business case you are also required to show that you evaluated various options. These options are:
• Invest in Web based FAQ Facility (the option that you recommend to management)
• Simplify the procedures around the handling of customer queries (Process Simplification)
• Set up specialist team in the Service Centre to deal with Customer Queries (Restructuring)
• Doing Nothing (Status Quo). This means that customers will continue to contact the Service Centre for general query information.
You should weight the Advantages and Disadvantages of each option in the template and the team should recommend the Web-based investment. All remaining sections of Business Case template should focus on the recommended option.
Please see attached to prepare your business case:
Template provided to guide the completion of the Business Case
Case Study Brief document
Worked example of a completed requirements specification for a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) facility on the GasEl Website
Probability and Impact Scales and Grids for evaluating Risks
Distribution of Time Spreadsheet and Business Case Data Spreadsheet
Completing the Template:
The template provides detailed guidelines to help you fill out each section shown (RED); please remember to delete these guidelines as each section is populated by the team.
In completing the assessment you should take into consideration the results of the SWOT Analysis. You are allowed to make reasonable assumptions in order to complete the assessment and these must be included in the Assumptions section of the Business Case template.
BUSINESS CASE TEMPLATE
[Business Case Title ]
(The text within brackets ( ) and in RED has been placed within this document for your instruction only; and formatted for the specific style required for that area. Once you have completed filling out the template, you must remove the bracketed information and adjust the spacing.)
(Write an introductory paragraph that ‘sets the scene’ for the business case document. Outline the techniques used in the preparation of the business case study and acknowledge those who assisted the preparation of the document. )
2.0 Executive Summary
(This is probably the most important section of document as it is probably the only section which will be read by senior management!!! This should be the last section to be completed as it draws on the information from the rest of the business case document. There should be three paragraphs here and these should cover:
What the business case study was about and what the main findings were
What options were evaluated and are the main advantages and disadvantages of each
Your recommendation on what should be done and a clear request for the decision that needs to be made by management e.g. resourcing/funding for a more detailed investigation or a Go/No Go decision on a major investment
It is really important that this section is brief and concise so as to allow management to understand the key issues involved quickly and to understand clearly the decision they are being asked to make. )
(This section is a more detailed description of the current situation which has given rise to the business case study. Essentially these are the reasons why the business case has been prepared. Here you need to outline the real problems and opportunities which exist. These need to be clearly defined and supported by data where possible such as resources being wasted. It is important that the ‘scope’ of the issues identified by the study are relevant to the recommendations which will follow in the business case i.e. do not mention wider issues which your recommendation will not address. This can cause frustration and may bring in non-relevant issues which delay or negatively impact management decisions. )
(This section should describe in outline the various options that have been considered to deliver the required outcome. The availability of funds and management capacity to successfully manage change is likely to be limited; consequently a comprehensive analysis is required so that alternatives can be assessed. The chosen option should be described in detail, together with a summary of the reasons why the recommended option was chosen. This information provides assurances that alternatives were considered. The options for evaluation in the business case study are as follow:
Invest in Web based FAQ Facility (the option that you recommend to management)
Simplify the procedures around the handling of customer queries (Process Simplification)
Set up specialist team in the Service Centre to deal with Customer Queries (Restructuring)
Doing Nothing (Status Quo). This means that customers will continue to contact the Service Centre for general query information.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of each option should be included in the template and the team should recommend the Web based investment. All remaining sections of Business Case template should focus on the recommended option (Web based investment).
In evaluating options it should be noted that ‘Doing Nothing’ is always an option. This should describe what will happen if the project is not done. In practice this option is a very real possibility – there are many reports with good recommendations lying in desk drawers and filing cabinets!!!! So it is well worthwhile detailing how the organization will suffer if this option is taken. The template has been pre-populated a couple of illustrative Advantages & Disadvantages for the Do Nothing Option. This illustrates the layout and level of detail required for the evaluation of the various options).
Do Nothing Option
There will be no disruption of the customer base arising from having to register for Web based services
Increases pressure on management to increase resources to service growing customer base
(This section should identify each benefit that is claimed would be achieved by the solutions implementation. Both the tangible (measureable) and intangible (qualitative, strategic) should be described. Here are some examples for illustration.
Staff Savings, e.g. Labor costs reduced by €100k per annum
Reduced effort or e.g. 3 full time equivalent staff freed up for other more productive activities
Increased Efficiency, e.g. Sales call conversion increased from 45% to 70%
In terms of intangible benefits (non-financial) there may be very important strategic objectives for investing in a solution. The strategic plan or SWOT should be reviewed to identify strategic objectives. Here are some examples for illustration:
Increased Job Satisfaction, e.g. Better staff morale and job satisfaction leading to greater productivity
The full range of benefits associated with the project should be considered and covered. Benefits should be listed on a prioritized basis.)
(Where any assumptions are being made in the quantification or presentation of costs or benefits then these should be covered in this section. It is important to specify assumptions as these can be re-visited as the business case/solution develops to see if the original assumptions still remain sound.)
7.0 Risk Assessment
(In this section the various risks associated with the project and recommended mitigation which importantly needs to be incorporated into the plan as the mitigation may have an associated cost. A Probability and Impact score should attach to each risk using the Probability and Impact Scales and Grid. Only Red and Amber Risks require mitigation actions. Additional rows may be added if required. Here are some examples of risks which might be associated with each type of improvement option. The project type risk could apply to any improvement option.)
Automation Type Risk
IT solution fails to meet user requirements
All stakeholders will be identified and engaged in requirements gathering process
Requirements specification will require approval from Senior User representing User Community
Acceptance criteria will be clearly defined and agreed with user community
Formal Change Control procedures will apply.
8.0 Estimated Costs, Tasks and Timescales
(List the high level tasks and estimated timescales for completion of the solution. The reliability of information on tasks, timeframes and costs tend to improve as a solution progresses and more information becomes available. At the outset it may only be possible to provide high level tasks and rough estimates of associated timeframes and costs. Tips on preparing this section are:
– Prepare a list of high level tasks
– Identify tasks which may involve a direct cost.
– Consult with Finance Department or Subject Matter Expert to get an estimate
– Estimates might be based on High/Medium/Low
– Where time permits, obtain quotations from potential suppliers
– Assign estimated times based consultation with staff that will actually be completing the work
Most organizations tend to consider only direct costs in the financial appraisal. These are the additional spend that would be incurred. Here are some examples of costs for illustration:
Tangible Costs – Initial Costs
Training and Re-training of Users e.g. contracted training provider for 2 weeks €3000.
Tangible Costs – Ongoing
Hardware Maintenance, e.g. Costs of Annual Maintenance Contract increase from €25k p.a. to €30k p.a.
Software Support Cost, e.g. Costs of Software Support Contract increase from €100k p.a. to €125k p.a.
Recruitment e.g. increased recruitment associated with interviewing, reference checking and selection.
Disruption e.g. will require staff to cover for colleagues assigned to projects
9.0 Investment Appraisal
(Investment in a capital project can only be justified if the additional benefits exceed the costs of the investment. Investment appraisal can be conducted with reference to the impact of a new project/solution on reported profits or on cash flows.
Please note that any costs already incurred (sunk costs) should be ignored when completing the appraisal. The idea is to focus on justifying additional spend as there is nothing that can be done about the money already spent.
There are various methods used to complete a financial appraisal. The main ones are as follows:
Benefit/Cost Ratio: Here you take the total benefits and total costs and show these as a ratio. >1 indicates a positive ratio. The period over which benefits are calculated must be specified and consistent e.g. 1 year, 3 years. For example, if total costs are €100k and total benefits are €125k, then the Benefit Cost Ratio is 1.25.
Accounting Rate of Return: This is normally calculated as the average annual profit you expect over the life of an investment project, compared to the average amount of capital invested. For example, if a project requires an average investment of €100k and is expected to generate an average annual profit of €15k, then the ARR would be 15%.
Payback Period: This is a technique for calculating the period of time required for a project investment to break even i.e. at what point will the investment start paying for itself. For example, if a project requiring an investment of €100k is expected to provide annual cash flow of €25k, the payback period would be 4 years.
Discounting Future Cash flow and Sensitivity Analysis not required for assignment.
The benefits figures should be taken from the Benefits (See Section 5) and the costs from the Estimated Costs & Timescales Section (Section 8). The cost benefit should be presented in the following Table.)
Benefits Cost ratio
10 Document Approvals
(Minimum required approvals for Business Case documents are: Owner and Final Approver. )
Title of “Role”
Title of “Role”
9.0 Revision History
Description of Change
(*The date listed in the first line of the Revision History table, is the date the document received its final approval. Hereafter, the date becomes the revision date, displayed as the Effective Date on the first page header information.)
[Title of Reference]
(Attach any appendices which are considered relevant to the Business Case. This helps ensure that the body of the report is kept concise. No need to attach Requirements Specifications for FAQ.
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