Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Business Side to Tech Comm “Initiatives”

Changing how a doc group works – new tools, new output formats, a new development methodology, etc. – has long-term strategic effects on the group and its relationship with groups like Engineering or Sales. These effects mean that such changes need to be “sold” – what’s their strategic and financial effect on the overall business? Will they lead to lower costs, higher sales or market share, more efficiency, better regulatory compliance, or some other benefit?

There’s so much information about this business aspect of proposal writing that it can be hard to know where to start. One good starting point that I recently found is a book called Maximizing Project Value by Jeff Berman, from AMACOM (

The book describes a project proposal methodology called Speed2Value, but the write-up is generically applicable to any project. It focuses on the strategic rather than the tactical, stressing a proposed project’s effect on the company rather than just looking at whether the project was finished on time and on budget.

The book also provides an overview of cost-justification methodologies like ROI (Return on Investment), NPV (Net Present Value), Payback Period, and IRR (Internal Rate of Return). It doesn’t go into a lot of technical detail, just enough to provide a starting point for further research or actually writing a proposal. The book is presented in lay terms, is clearly written, and is a quick read (I read it on a plane between Boston and Phoenix). It’s worth buying.

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