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5 tips for writing a business case they can’t refuse

Been asked to produce a business case for expanding your communications toolkit, for better digital engagement and results?

This has become a common enough conversation over the last six months or so, during meetings with various teams at local authorities. Colleagues and I spend time talking with a variety of public sector organisations about the Granicus GovDelivery Communications Cloud, about how it can help not only make it easier to send out digital messages but also help them reach more people than ever before, thanks to our ever growing 10 million-people-strong network.

“That’s wonderful, we’re sold!” is usually the response. “Now, we’ll just have to make the business case to the board which holds the budget…”

And this is where the real challenge lies. The benefits are clear. Granicus helps save significant time by automating processes, helps drive up user satisfaction by improving the way people are informed and frees up your staff by sending subscribers the information they need so they don’t need to call up busy customer service centres.

Cutting just 500 calls a month through better proactive digital comms saves £18k a year; reducing face-to-face visits by 200 a month saves a whopping £25k.

These numbers soon add up.

But, thanks to the incredibly stretched budgets for local government and the wider public sector, more scrutiny than ever before is being placed on spend large and small, meaning additional business case processes are required. We get that. It’s important that money is spent on the right things. Which is why we want to help you build your business case so we can work with you as soon as possible, meaning you’ll start realising the benefits of better digital communication quicker than ever. Citizens expect easy access to information and for the public sector to match the private in terms of the speed and quality of communication. We can help you do that.

So, here are our top five tips for building a solid business case for bringing in the GovDelivery Communications Cloud:

1.   Cash is king

It may be tempting to focus on some of the many benefits using the GovDelivery Communications Cloud will bring. You might want to highlight how useful it will be having automated emergency alerts. How about using it for internal communications in ways that increase employee satisfaction and retention rates? Or the fact that it can be linked seamlessly with your CRM? Great! And don’t forget the way we help you grow your subscriber base via proven audience acquisition tactics, including use of overlays, geolocation targeting and cross-promotion across the other 150 UK organisations in the network.

All of that is wonderful, but none of that matters if you can’t count the cash. Love it or hate it, the effect on your organisation’s bottom line often matters most, so you will need to be clear about how using the GovDelivery Communications Cloud could help you realise significant and measurable savings. Which it definitely could if you use it strategically and with care.

Whether it is the ability to reduce the number of calls to your call centre, or the number of complaints regarding service change, or the income generation potential of better promotion of council-run paid services or projected revenue from selling ad space on your email messages (after you’ve built an audience), you must be able to advocate the potential financial benefits to those who hold the budgets.

There are plenty of examples of this already of course. Why not take a look at how London Borough of Havering Council generated an additional £350k income through a super-effective marketing campaign around green waste collections? Havering has also generated £18k in advertising revenue from selling space on their email alerts which now reach over 45% of the local population! Or cite Stoke-on-Trent, who have used the GovDelivery Communications Cloud as a crucial part of their push to save £391k over 12 months by driving more people to use online services rather than visit or call the council.

Risks are real – don’t ignore them

We like to think we live in a risk-free world, but the reality is that everything has risk to one degree or another. If you try to downplay risk then you’re leaving someone else to point it out for you. Far better to be honest and upfront about these risks, along with how they will be mitigated.

You can include risks such as:

  • Staff not having required skills to use the platform
  • Financial savings difficult to measure and attribute
  • Complaints from residents at removal of printed materials
  • Lack of take-up and sign-up by residents
  • Lack of content to auto-create bulletins and alerts

All of these risks are real; all of these have simple mitigating actions which can be followed. Whether it’s providing focused staff training (we do that as part of the service), ensuring there was plenty of marketing and promotion materials around (we can advise on that too) or simply referring back to the need to make savings; risks should highlight areas for additional work, but shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to act.

After all, what are the risks of not driving behaviour change and investing to save?

You may be surprised to hear that we’ve never heard of a council receiving a barrage of complaints from residents after the quarterly printed magazine is dropped. It just doesn’t happen.

2.   Be clear about what you want

There’s nothing at all wrong with choice. It’s the spice of life after all, especially if you are talking with your procurement team who absolutely love getting comparisons with as many other people as possible.

We know there are other people out there who can send emails. Whether it’s a paid-for service such as Mail Chimp or even just good old Outlook, sending emails is not something that makes the GovDelivery Communications Cloud unique. If you think that’s all it’s good for, you’ve you need to think bigger and more strategically.

It’s the combination of our user-friendly technology, our huge experience of working with the public sector (unlike our competitors we ONLY work with public sector organisations, meaning your emails will get to inboxes and not spam filters), and our huge network of subscribers and government organisations that makes us unique. Simply put, no-one else does what we do.

We already have a network of subscribers in the UK which is over 10 million-strong and growing all the time, with a total of more than 150 million subscribers around the world. Our passion is helping you grow the number of people you reach significantly, meaning your messages get to more of the right people and help them take appropriate actions to make their lives better. The more people you reach, the more impact you’ll have. Unlike other competitors, you can send as many emails as you want to as many people as are signed up to receive them; we do not penalise you for success.

If all you want to do is send a quarterly newsletter to the single list of people your team already knows, then by all means look elsewhere. If, however, you want to drive real behaviour change and engage people you’ve never had contact with before, then there really isn’t anyone else to compare us with. Really.

3.   This isn’t the only strategy in town

No man is an island and, in a similar vein, no strategy has no interdependencies. You are asking for money to invest in a digital communications tool that will:

  • drive behaviour change
  • assist in service redesign and transformation
  • reduce print costs and environmental impact
  • reduce pressure on customer services by aiding channel shift
  • increase engagement with local democracy and the services delivered to the public.

If you haven’t got at least one strategy for each and every one of those things, we’d be surprised.

The GovDelivery Communications Cloud and associated network will assist in realising the goals of all of those strategies (and probably a few more besides), and more quickly than you may expect. Those strategies are reported on at a senior and/or public level on a regular basis, so the more that can be done to help push them forward the better.

Referencing those strategies during the procurement process will demonstrate that this procurement exercise will meet multiple objectives all at no additional cost above the setup and licence fees.

Match strategic thinking with operational thinking; the ability to join the two up is one which rarely occurs in so straightforward a manner.

4.   The G-Cloud is G-good

There are a number of different procurement routes out there, some of which are quicker and more straightforward than others. Your procurement team will, of course, have advice and opinions on which route they would prefer you to take, but many are still unaware of the simplicity that G-Cloud offers.

G-Cloud, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a government framework which allows public sector organisations to more easily procure cloud based IT services, directly through the government’s Digital Marketplace of trusted suppliers. Backed by GDS, and with all organisations on it checked and approved, you can buy with confidence. Buying itself is easy – you simply shortlist down to the service you would like to purchase and buy it.

That’s it.

There’s no huge procurement process to go through, no three months-worth of tenders, submissions, reviews, interviews, clarifications, approvals and checks; you simply decide what you want and procure it. Just start by visiting the Digital Marketplace and having a look around; there are lots of interesting organisations on there.

To make it even easier and more transparent, you’ll find our GovDelivery Communications Cloud (by Granicus) entry here.

So, when you speak to your procurement colleagues as you put your business case together, it’s worth double checking that there is no good reason why you can’t procure via G-Cloud. It’s easy, it’s quick, it’s transparent, it’s double-checked and has lots of safeguards built in (such as ensuring you don’t get locked into expensive, long term contracts. There’s even a no-quibble 30-day release clause). You, and perhaps they, may be surprised at how much time – and therefore money – you could save by procuring us using G-Cloud.

5.   Chat to us about what you want to achieve

These tips should get you started as you go through the process of securing the funding to begin using the GovDelivery platform, but you shouldn’t feel alone. We have a team of experts whose entire role is to help you navigate those tricky business-case-building issues and who can give your decision-makers all the information they need to make an informed decision.

The very best thing you can do is get in touch and let us know what help you need. Helping you with your business case is our business, after all!

Give us a call today on 0800 032 5769 to discuss your situation and ambitions. Alternatively, you’d be welcome to pop by our offices near Gatwick: The Beehive, City Place, Gatwick, RH6 0PA.