How to define the business drivers for a successful project

Business drivers are the crucial factors which lead to success for a business through a proposed initiative. They help formulate the high level agenda which determines the scope and purpose of a project.

If you do not define the business drivers and underlying risks for your ICT initiative, your project is likely to fail.

When defining the end game of your business analysis effort, it is important to identify the relevant business drivers that are aligned with the business objectives, strategies, policies, directives and legislation. Without such alignment, there is the potential for:

  • confusion in communicating the agenda, purpose and scope of the project, and
  • the inability to identify the true risks associated with each business driver.

Examples of Business Drivers for Success

  • Increased retention of quality information for better decision making.
  • Reduced processing time enabling workers to focus on activities that add value to business.
  • Increased controls on data and information for auditing and regulatory purposes.
  • Increased quality of service delivery.

Understanding the Risks

The risks associated with an ICT initiative can then be better understood.

Here’s a scenario that explains how risk comes to light. Within “The Company” information is managed by “Business Unit 1” on behalf of “Business Unit 2” due to high error rates caused by poor management in “Business Unit 2”. The process is intensively manual.

A review of the business processes reveals that the implementation of a new system will support the above business drivers, as:

  • “Business Unit 1” can hand back the business function to “Business Unit 2”, enabling workers to spend more time on their own work.
  • “Business Unit 2” has a system that eliminates errors providing better retention of information, increased controls for auditing and regulatory purposes, and better service delivery.

However, “Business Unit 2” are very set in their ways and may refuse to buy-in to the new initiative. They believe that “Business Unit 1” should be doing the work, that it is not their task. This is a major political risk affecting the success of the project.

To mitigate this risk, clear communication with all stakeholders is needed to demonstrate:

  • The benefits of the new system and how it will not only improve the quality of information and reduce processing time, that it will provide the managers of  “Business Unit 2” with useful reports and functions to enhance decision making.
  • A road map for system implementation and change management. Thus, managing stakeholder expectations and assuring them that they are going to be fully engaged on all levels to ensure success of the project.

How to Discover the Business Drivers

To discover the business drivers and associated risks of a project, engage the business at the executive or senior level. Ask them what they think are the key factors affecting success of the project.

This strategy can be implemented in the project’s initial set up and analysis phases irrespective of the methodology (i.e., Agile or Waterfall) being utilised.

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