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Expansion on Strategy 2: Communicating Strategy and Creating a Compelling Business Case

A Technology Leader prepares her business case for an important IT project.

Technology Leaders must effectively communicate the benefits of their proposals by creating a compelling business case. By presenting a well-structured and persuasive argument, leaders can increase the board’s understanding of the value and feasibility of their initiatives, ultimately enhancing their chances of securing the necessary funding.

Here are key aspects to consider when communicating strategy and creating a compelling business case:

Understand the Board’s Perspective:

Before presenting the business case, Tech Leaders should gain a thorough understanding of the board’s priorities, concerns, and decision-making criteria. While they can be the ultimate decision-making party in the organisation when it comes to budgets, boards are often presented with a strategic plan by the CEO and do not “own it” in the same way as the CEO does.  Understanding two potentially conflicting perspectives enables a technology leader to tailor their communication strategy to address the specific needs and expectations of the board members. By aligning their messages with the board’s perspective, leaders can increase the likelihood of obtaining their support.

Takeaways: Being aware of both the CEO’s perspective and the board’s helps you navigate your way to getting the funding you need to play your role in achieving the common elements of the vision even if there are some mis-alignments.

Craft a Clear and Concise Message:

Technology Leaders should distil complex technical concepts into clear and concise messages that are easily understood by the board. Avoiding technical jargon and using plain language helps board members grasp the value and relevance of the proposed initiatives. Leaders should focus on articulating the strategic benefits, competitive advantages, and overall impact on the organisation’s objectives.

Takeaways: Acronyms and buzzwords can be lost on the board. If you do use them, ensure you define them.  Speak from a business perspective, not a technical one.

Outline the Business Objectives:

Clearly define the business objectives that the proposed initiatives aim to achieve. Whether it’s improving operational efficiency, enhancing customer experience, driving revenue growth, or mitigating risks, Technology Leaders should clearly communicate how their initiatives directly contribute to the organisation’s overarching goals. By linking the proposed initiatives to specific business objectives, leaders can demonstrate their strategic alignment.

Takeaways: Don’t assume the board can connect the dots between your proposed technology strategies and the benefits they will deliver.  You must carefully and clearly articulate them.

Provide a Detailed ROI Analysis:

One of the most critical components of a compelling business case is a comprehensive return on investment (ROI) analysis. Technology Leaders should quantify the financial implications of their proposals, including cost savings, revenue generation, and potential payback periods. By presenting a detailed ROI analysis, tech leaders can demonstrate the financial viability and long-term value of the initiatives, instilling confidence in the board members.

Takeaways: For the highest likelihood of acceptance, recruit the help of a data analyst to create ROI models that can be interrogated through changing a number of assumptions.  Spend time defining the variables and ensuring your plan can cater for them.

Address Potential Risks and Mitigation Strategies:

Every business decision involves risks, and the board wants to ensure that potential risks are identified and managed effectively. Technology Leaders should proactively address potential risks associated with their proposals and present well-thought-out mitigation strategies. This demonstrates a thorough understanding of the challenges and highlights the leader’s commitment to minimising risks and maximising success.

Takeaways: If you have undertaken ISO 27001 accreditation, you will know how reassuring the risk identification and mitigation process is.  The board members needs that same process applied to the future projects you want them to fund, to give them confidence that you have thoroughly assessed it from all angles.

Leverage Real-World Examples and Case Studies:

To add credibility and provide tangible evidence of success, Technology Leaders can leverage real-world examples and case studies that demonstrate similar initiatives’ positive outcomes. Highlighting industry best practices and showcasing successful implementations of similar technologies or strategies can significantly strengthen the business case and instil confidence in the board members.

Takeaways: Consciously work to expand your network so you can uncover real-world examples from other Australian firms that have undertaken similar IT strategies.  The power of storytelling is an important skill to master when seeking to persuade a board to approve your funding requests.

Engage in Two-Way Dialogue:

Communication with the board should be a two-way dialogue. Technology Leaders should encourage questions, listen actively, and address any concerns or objections raised by the board members. By fostering an open and collaborative environment, leaders can build trust and ensure that the board feels heard and involved in the decision-making process.

Takeaways: Often, it’s not what you say in a presentation that convinces a board to invest in you – it is your performance under questioning that gives them confidence.  Demonstrate that you have asked yourself the same or similar questions and you will earn the boards’ trust.


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