The right business case can become a driving force of a digital strategy. This document is the one thing that brings people together and inspires them to embrace an idea by communicating project goals, proving investment worthiness, and detailing actions people must take.

Without it, ideas are just ideas, forever locked away as a pipe dream and nothing more.

This traditional scenario is undoubtedly practical when seeking company-wide funding, commitment, and adoption. However, as I recently learned, it is only a small part of the full potential of a business case.

Turning Business Cases into Successful Transformation Road Maps

Historically, a business case is the tried-and-true way to help companies understand the who, what, when, where, and why behind a transformation project. Supported by relevant calculations such as return on investment (ROI) and improvement rates, this information was all that executives and employees needed to determine whether to embrace a proposed change or avoid it altogether.

Spending the last three years helping SAP customers transition existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to SAP S/4HANA has evolved my line of thinking. A business cases is much more than a selling tool for a single implementation or transformation project. It is also a road map guiding toward long-term success.

Based on a value engineering methodology adjusted by the Business Transformation Services group at SAP, customers are going beyond initial alignment, value discovery, and validation when creating their business cases. Now, they are incorporating the following critical elements of sustainable digital transformation.

Logical Sequence for Solution Innovation

When a traditional business case is developed, a team of internal leaders and third-party experts and technology providers often consider processes directly linked to the overall vision. For example, if a sales organization is looking to provide real-time, multichannel access to deal pipeline updates and customer relationship management (CRM) information, the company may assess only processes that affect the delivery of those insights.

For customers deploying SAP S/4HANA, additional advantages emerge when they reflect on their value-added chains. Doing so reveals how supporting, cross-functional activities strengthen expected outcomes by defining and distinguishing the strategic importance and contribution of individual processes and cost centers. Decision-makers can then scope out recommended solutions and their deployment order and timing – based on a company’s cost position and performance- and quality-related differentiation, compared to their competitors.

Identification and Calculation of Suitable Value Drivers

SAP customers’ reasons for transitioning to SAP S/4HANA are as unique as their operations. With the assistance of internal functions and business experts and third-party partners, decision-makers can choose value drivers that match customer and employee needs today and can scale to address future challenges when needed.

The Business Transformation Services group gives SAP S/4HANA customers an open environment to initiate this discussion and keep experts engaged with a series of internal interviews and workshops. During every interaction, customers can pinpoint the right value drivers and weigh the significance of potential operational improvements, competitive benefits, and revenue growth against the cost of technology, process, and workforce enablement.

Baseline Comparison of Actual Value Drivers Against Industry Leaders

Once SAP customers quantify that the benefits of moving to SAP S/4HANA outweigh the cost of the deployment projects, business leaders begin to understand the potential of the investment. But we do not stop there.

To help customers understand the competitive differentiation of a move to SAP S/4HANA, SAP compares the estimated cost and potential value against a database of customer benchmarks. This analysis is based on factors such as industry, geography, revenue, and workforce size.

Meaningful Insights Fuel Transformational Results

With all the information pulled during this preparatory study, SAP customers have all the information needed to communicate a compelling SAP S/4HANA business case. Nevertheless, even the best numbers are lost on business leaders without a meaningful delivery strategy.

Together with our value engineers, the project team from Business Transformation Services helps customers introduce the business case to their stakeholders, impart insights based on quantified insights, and align with corporate goals. More importantly, a personalized road map is presented to decision-makers, giving a well-rounded tour of their journey from the current situation through the next transformation to the ultimate future vision.

Barbara Jung-Voelker is principal business consultant for Digital IT Architecture in Business Transformation Services at SAP.