With any technology, machinery and equipment, wear and tear from continued usage and new advancements prompt the need for upgrades. The same is true for edible oil extraction and refining equipment. Communicating with leadership usually requires presenting a business case to get their investment buy-in for the investment. Plant Engineers often ask us for information to help them deliver a compelling case.
A well-written business case ensures proper project planning, helps involve management and secure their complete support. We've pooled together our learning's from the last eight decades to develop a guideline that enables you to build a case for upgrading your refinery or extraction plant equipment.
There are several templates online for presenting a business case that you can use - while they may vary in terminology, the principles remain relatively consistent. Use one your audience is familiar with.
Here are the questions to consider when preparing your business case, What is the business problem or opportunity?
Company leadership does not necessarily have the same lens that you do to the problem you are dealing with or the opportunity you want to take advantage of. Articulate the situation or opportunity that has prompted you to develop this business case.
What are the goals?
Specify what you hope to accomplish with this project and what the company could lose if it does not go ahead. When management is fully informed about potential positive and negative outcomes, they will be better positioned to understand the urgency of your request.
What are the potential benefits?
You may be trying to solve an existing problem. Or you want to capitalise on an opportunity that brings in better revenues or saves time, or reduces costs. Whatever your goal, outline all the potential benefits so management can make an informed decision. Brainstorm all the financial and non-financial ways in which your project can deliver value and list all of them out.
What are the potential risks?
Every project comes with some amount of risk. Listing all the potential pitfalls of your project will give management confidence that you have thought everything through. They will likely be more supportive despite the risks because you have evaluated it from all angles and are prepared for them.
What are the projected costs?
Illustrating the financial impact is a must — factor in contingency costs and dependencies that can lead to cost overruns. If necessary, seek the help of your finance team to outline a realistic picture.
Who are the potential technology partners?
Create a shortlist of potential technology partners from whom you plan to seek cost proposals. It will significantly enhance your business case if you include actual quotes.
What is the project timeline?
Use a Gantt chart to build a detailed timeline for your project. Include dependencies and fail-safes for any potential delays. Add in a Murphy plan because, as with any project, there will be events entirely out of your control that can delay your project.
What is the impact on current operations?
Any project, even a necessary upgrade, impacts current operations and can lead to a loss of revenue. Illustrate all the ways your project will impact operations and your recommendations for mitigation. Don't forget to include the cost of doing nothing.
What are the resources needed?
The most critical factor of success in any project is the people. List the names of all your colleagues whose direct and indirect involvement is crucial to the success of this projects. Include a chart detailing a chain of command and escalation protocols for approvals and decisions if anything goes wrong.
There you are. That's our guide to building a case for your project. Before presenting it to your management, ask a colleague to look over your proposal. Ask them if they understand what you are asking for and if you have made a compelling argument. Building a business case for your management shouldn't be stressful. You are the expert and already have all the answers. It's simply about articulating your knowledge so you can get a buy-in from the people who decide on financial investments.
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