I have estimates around the cost of the solution, but can't seem to find any tangible benefits, now what?

I have estimates around the cost of the solution, but can't seem to find any tangible benefits, now what?
Not all projects bring tangible, easily recognized benefits. Sometimes, the benefits of a project are intangible and hard to quantify; but it may be in the organization's best interests to invest in the cost of the solution, especially if the benefits are linked to its business goals. Sometimes, the benefits are intangible but clearly positive —for example, improved morale, job satisfaction, etc. Other times, the benefits come by eliminating a negative, e.g., reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties, negative press, etc. It's helpful to find a clear way to describe these intangibles, because the organization's leadership will want to be able to talk about their value.

Tying soft or intangible benefits to the business goals will help others understand the project's benefits. So look for examples of soft benefits, and call attention to them to support the value of the project. The following table gives some examples of how to express soft benefits in terms of common business needs.

Business need type Sample Projects Sample benefit
Business needs driven by external forces New legislation requires added controls around specific financial processes. State reporting regulations require adding new reports or reporting functionality. Reduced risk of non-compliance penalties up to $XX.

Reduced risk of negative press coverage of non-compliance.

Business needs driven by infrastructure demands Systems must be upgraded to ensure maintainability or compatibility with other systems.

New infrastructure is required to expand service offerings or distribution channels.

Reduced risk of system inoperability.

Better future ability to integrate automated processes.

Business needs relating to satisfaction levels Increased flexibility in work hours increases employee job satisfaction.

Expanded help-desk availability increases sales channel's enthusiasm for the new online tool.

Adding quality control measures improves customer confidence in the product.

Increased retention levels from increased job satisfaction.

The new tool results in higher productivity.

Increased customer satisfaction leads to improved customer retention.
Business needs to make things easier Process improvement makes a process less awkward or unpleasant for users, but not necessarily faster or cheaper. Improved ease of doing business, which favorably impacts employee and customer retention.

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