Penny Leach Triumphing in economic uncertainty
Jinfo Blog

Tuesday, 12th May 2009

By Penny Leach

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The Professional Development Club of the CILIP Commercial, Legal & Scientific Information Group (CLSIG - http://digbig.com/4yrwg) continued the theme of triumphing in economically uncertain times with a seminar on building business cases. Your Information Service Under Review: Building a Persuasive Business Case was hosted at the current location of the City Business Library (CBL) on London Wall, where attendees were welcomed by CBL Librarian Goretti Considine. Sandra Ward, Senior Associate Consultant at TFPL, looked at the bigger picture of justifying an information service overall, whereas Sarah Fahey, Head of Global Library Services at Allen & Overy, shared her tips on making a business case for a specific course of action. Sandra's opening message was later endorsed by Sarah: It is best to operate as though always under the spotlight. You should always be ready to provide realistic and objective evidence of your service's value to its organisation, and to see any scrutiny not as a threat but as an opportunity to demonstrate that value. As mature corporate citizens you should run lean information services, fully aware of what resources they consume and where they fit as part of a holistic view of the organisation. You should be able to act proactively to meet changing internal business needs, and retain control over the review process. Make sure you are seen as a flexible change leader with vision and foresight, and not as a defensive reactionary trying to preserve the status quo. Network to get the support of senior stakeholders (at board level) – present the benefits of your services in their language, for example better business decisions, more new clients, less risk. Ensure, too, that your services are unquestionably embedded in and aligned to the business objectives. Ensure your market knowledge is up to date so that you can take advantage of new developments. Keep reassessing your services and costs, and don’t be afraid to put forward new opportunities to add more value. Sandra’s closing message led very nicely into Sarah’s presentation, aptly named Pulling Teeth: Making a Business Case’. Sarah put forward a formula for calculating Return On Investment to give quantitative credibility to a business case proposal. Her top tips for writing a business case? Don’t forget the pre-groundwork - collection of relevant statistics, understanding of objectives, identification of impact and stakeholders. When writing the proposal, keep it short and simple, consider the audience (more figures if it is going to the CFO…), keep it relevant (why should they care). And don’t be afraid to spell out the impact of not doing something or failing. Finally always remember you are a cost – but so are all other services within an organisation.

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