Three Lessons from 100+ Business Cases

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “You’ve helped lots of insurers build core system business cases. What does the business case usually look like?” Here are a few thematic truths we’ve uncovered:

Business cases are like snowflakes

No two are exactly alike, but they certainly have common areas of focus. In addition to productivity gains and legacy technology cost reductions, nearly all core system business cases will identify areas of improvement on various growth, indemnity, and expense levers. But the relative importance and value of these benefits are intrinsically linked to the particular situation of the insurer, its strategic priorities, its technical environment, and its process and organizational maturity. Only by thoughtfully evaluating your own baselines can you define a value proposition that is truly unique and compelling to your business. We can help, but we can’t just “build it for you” or it wouldn’t really be yours.

If you can’t measure it, that doesn’t mean it’s not important

Sometimes the most compelling opportunities are the qualitative ones, those areas of critical strategic importance that can’t be definitively quantified. (For example, can you measure the quality of management information and the value of making more informed decisions about your business?) And often, one area or another is in such desperate need of improvement that you can’t even produce a baseline value for a given operational metric. (“We can’t measure that today, but we sure would like to!” is another common refrain.) Don’t ignore these situations; they are opportunities to tell a more strategic story as part of your business case. Framed appropriately, they can give your case the weight of a transformational strategic imperative, not just a discretionary IT project.

The business case is just the beginning

The business case is an exercise in defining value, a story about a future vision of success. But that’s not enough to achieve said vision. Your business case should drive decision making in your project, impacting scope management, prioritization, rollout phasing, resource allocation, and change control. And after you go live, it should serve as a scorecard to validate the operational improvements you projected and focus your continuous improvement investments. At Guidewire, we’ve built out comprehensive tools and processes to help you in this journey, and many of our customers are already using them today.

When built and used correctly, your business case is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s the first step in a transformational program driven entirely on identifying, enabling, and realizing business value.