Monday, 23 November 2009

Building the business case for FSD..

It is clear that with the current global economic crisis, and the future financial forecast for Universities, Vice Chancellors and their senior management have some tough decisions to make, balancing:
  1. Cutting costs at the same time as minimising the effects on the institution's sustainability
  2. Continued, sustainable, growth
Many Universities have recently initiated Business Process Management (Lean, Business Process Review, etc.) initiatives in order to reduce costs (1 activity, 1 process, 1 place). A few have initiated projects to investigate SOA technologies or Master Data Management. And many have begun making use of cloud computing, outsourcing, SaaS, etc.

All of the above highlights that the business case for FSD must be compelling, quickly show value, and will have a different scope at different institutions depending upon where they are now.

The business case for FSD cannot propose a large, all-encompassing project (or programme), that won't deliver for years. But is more likely to be a decision process that takes into account future capability (service) delivery requirements (ref. Guerilla SOA).

One way to evaluate a business case for FSD could be to use the Formula for Change created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher (sometimes called Gleicher's Formula):

D x V x F > R


D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now;
V = Vision of what is possible;
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.

If the product of these three factors is greater than
R = Resistance, then change is possible.

Because of the multiplication of D, V and F, if any one is absent or low, then the product will be low and therefore not capable of overcoming the resistance.

Whilst this formula was developed to assess the likely success of implementing change, I think it could also be used to evaluate the likely success of a business case.


  1. What are the challenges the institution is facing now that could be helped by FSD? How will these challenges change in the near future (think post-election 2010)?
  2. What opportunities could FSD bring that will address these challenges?
  3. How can value be demonstrated quickly?
  4. What resistance from senior management is likely to be encountered?

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