10 Steps to Building & Delivering an Effective Business Case: Owning T&E as the CFO (Part II)

10 Steps to Building & Delivering an Effective Business Case: Owning T&E as the CFO (Part II)

CFOs need to justify and win approval for investments just like every other business leader. In Part I of 10 Steps to Building & Delivering an Effective Business Case: Owning T&E as the CFO I shared the first five steps of the process.

These steps focus on how to construct the foundation of a robust business case for an investment:

  1. A compelling problem statement

  2. Accurately defining the lay of the land relative to issues that need to be addressed

  3. Potential solutions to address issues that show you have done your homework

  4. A cost benefit analysis based on easily defensible assumptions, accurate numbers, and includes potential impacts on the bottom line

  5. An executive summary that concisely delivers the urgency in addressing specific issues, how it will be done, and what the benefits will be realized in addition to the costs of inaction

Delivering an effective business case is an art. Very few, if any, investment proposals win approval without a persuasive delivery of the business case constructed to justify it. A poor project proposal presentation equals rejection. The final five steps in our ten-step process for CFOs to win approval for investing in more effective T&E management at their companies are as follows:

1. Know your constituency – The audience you need to convince to approve and help you execute your project can represent a significant inherent barrier to your success. Conduct a project stakeholder meeting where you present your business case to all parties internally who will contribute to, or be impacted by, your investment project (in addition to those who will ultimately give your project the thumbs up or thumbs down). You need to know your constituents inside and out. Every group has at least one “NO” person who objects to every project. You need to engage them up front. Find out what objections they might have and address or deflect them as you are in the process of building your business case. Address all potential objections first thing when delivering your business case. This tactic will disarm each naysayer in your audience right out of the gate. Your constituency relative to a project in the arena of T&E expense management will include all those who travel, their managers who approve their travel spend, those who process expense reports, and the IT staff that supports any T&E related systems.

2. Present with confidence and passion – The numbers need to make sense, but how you present them matters, too. Being confident and presenting with energy shows that winning approval for the investment really matters to you in addition to benefiting the company. In theory, it should be all about the numbers, but that is not always the case. Politics matter as well, and you need to make the right impression on your audience.

3. Clearly define project roles, responsibilities, and establish accountability with each stakeholder at the meeting – Each person needs to understand why they are at your stakeholder meeting and what you expect from them in the scope of the project. Unfortunately, many people do not perform without accountability so you need to establish a level of personal accountability with each key stakeholder.

4. Define clearly how all pieces of the project “fit” and the role that each vested party plays
in successful project execution
– This is critical to earning “buy in” for your investment. It shows
that you have done your homework and helps you establish accountability with your
constituency.

5. Define success – Stress your project benchmarks of success, how you will communicate them on an ongoing basis, and how you will hold yourself accountable for the ROI of your project.

T&E expense management should matter to CFOs as T&E spending represents the second largest business expense to many companies, is difficult to manage, and impacts travelers and non-travelers across the enterprise. The good news is CFOs can identify areas for improving T&E expense management by doing a minimal amount of due diligence in acquiring the answers to seven simple questions and looking for seven red flags that can indicate company T&E spend is out of control.

T&E systems exist to help cure the headaches, and the technology, as described in my previous blog, The New Frontier of T&E Expense Management: 7 Tech Features to Tame the Beast, is changing the paradigm of T&E management. Investing in T&E management effectiveness can make the lives of all company employees who travel easier, result in significant cost savings, and can increase long-term shareholder value in the process. CFOs can realize the benefits by following these ten steps to construct and deliver a business case built on a solid foundation to win approval for this important investment.


Ernie Humphrey - CEO Thought Leadership 360
Written By Ernie Humphrey
Guest Contributor

Ernie currently serves as the CEO of 360 Thought Leadership Consulting. 360 Thought Leadership Consulting helps companies define and unlock the strategic value of their thought leadership programs. Formerly, Ernie served as the Vice President, Educational Programs for Proformative, and the as the Director of Treasury Services and as a Director of the Corporate Treasurers Council for the Association for Financial Professionals. Ernie has a BS and MS in Economics both from Purdue University.