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Want a seat at the table? Learn to write a business case.

Posted by Meg Bear on August 1, 2008


At risk of repeating the sage advice of Kris Dunn, when it comes to getting a seat at the table it’s not just about sitting down, it’s about adding value.  From my safe place on the sidelines, working with HR Business leaders, I’ve come to realize that often HR leaders have great ideas on how to add value but are lacking the ability to gain support to make those ideas a reality.  The piece that is missing is the ability to write a solid, believeable business case that shows ROI.

Brushing up on your B-school business case skills will go a long way to making the seat at the table work to your advantage.   Do you know what the lack of your program is costing the business?  Can you articulate that?   

 

  • What is the cost when you don’t develop talent? 
  •  What is the cost of attrition?
  •  What is the cost of low engagement?
  • Etc.

What is the opportunity cost?  What opportunities is the business missing out on when they are not implementing your fantastic program?  These are the things you must be prepared to provide to be taken seriously at this table. 

As Row Henson has said several times, as a discipline, we need to move from I think and I feel to I know and I can prove. 

To be able to credibly provide a business case you need reliable data.  Therefore, in my mind, the first technology strategy item for an HR professional must be one that supports the goal of reliable and readily available data. 

Until you have a way to reliably make a business case, you will always be held back.  You can’t just be about cost, you have to be about opportunity and what works at this table is opportunity as measured in legal tender currency.

2 Responses to “Want a seat at the table? Learn to write a business case.”

  1. Excellent insight Meg. While the faltering economy created awareness of need for efficient Talent Management strategies, the challenge often practitioners face is how to quantify the business value from TM investments for a winning business case. I believe the actionable metrics and insight that the best-practices TM envisioned to enable is a excellent starting point towards the winning business case.

  2. […] talent. However, to get business leaders to care about what we’re selling and to readily buy our business case, we need to move from language that seems obvious to us, to language that resonates with them. […]

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