The benefits of the activity that your business case describes will form the most important part of your business case. To be accepted, your case needs to realistically make the argument for the investment that your case requires. Selling the benefits to the target stakeholders of the case is a top priority.
Context matters when you are setting out to articulate the benefits. Some agencies - especially 'memory institutions' - have an implicit mandate for preservation and don't take much persuading that preservation is a good thing: in such circumstances you will likely be trying to make the case for why digital preservation is a priority over other actions, and convincing funders of the level of preservation that's required. But in other organizations - such as in industry - preserving data can be seen as an actual business risk. This is especially true where there is an over-developed or misplaced concern about data protection or freedom of information. In these circumstances you will face two challenges: (1) developing the case for digital preservation, and (2) prioritising it over other activities.
Whether you work in a memory institution or in industry, the benefits need to be articulated in a simple way. They should be as specific as possible, with a clear indication of who will benefit and when the benefit will be delivered. Try to back this up with empirical evidence, or evidence from users, and match them closely to the mission/strategy of the organization.
Use this to identify the benefits of your business case and articulate them in an appropriate and effective manner.
1) Scenario fit
- You should already understand who this is for, ie who benefits, and their requirements. For more information see Who is going to be affected? and Stakeholder analysis.
- This will help to determine the kinds of benefits that will be relevant, and how you should communicate them
2) Gather relevant institutional documents, and understand the context to your benefits
- These should include:
- Institutional strategic plan - mission statements, strategic objectives (e.g. research/teaching)
- Departmental service plan and performance indicators
- Other departmental policies (e.g. records management policy, procurement policy)
- Check how old they are and see if they are relevant - this about the principles they embody, not just the specifics.
- Aim: linking low-level objectives with high-level returns (eg preserve this CD, vs make someone's life better).
- Your aim over time may be to influence the revision of those documents to include digital preservation.
- Ask whether you think DP is timely?
3) Understand your audiences
- Different benefits will appeal to different decision makers
- Different people will talk different languages
- Different departments will have different objectives that you need to align with
- What are the operational priorities?
- How do your objectives align with current areas of activity? (for example research data, lecture capture)
- For more information see Stakeholder analysis.
4) Carry out an environment scan
- This might assessing the following for helpful information:
- Case studies of success and failure
- Benchmark against comparators
- Identify significant legislation / regulation
5) Identify the high level outcomes/outputs of your proposal
- Consider your objectives and what you intend to deliver/what the results will be.
- This should be outlined in your Business activity section.
6) Generate a list of benefits for your business case
- This can be achieved via a number of different processes:
- Brainstorm (on your own or with colleagues). It may be helpful to brainstorm against a list of activities or outcomes identified in your Business activity section.
- Work from a list of example benefits from other practitioners/organisations, such as those collated by SPRUCE.
- Work with an existing framework such as
- Balanced Value Impact Model
- Neil Beagrie's Keeping Research Data Safe benefits toolkit
- Experience with SPRUCE practitioners suggests that this is less useful if applied outside of the research data field.
- ESpida - balanced scorecard on digital preservation
- Doing your own brainstorm first may make the most of your thoughts before being swamped by the detail provided by existing work.
- Remember that any positive impact can count as a benefit.
- Consider a full range of benefit types - economic, social, legal, reputational etc, hard (direct) and soft (indirect) benefits, over both short and long term (when will they be realised and what type of benefits measurement process is needed?).
7) Prioritise and communicate your benefits list
- Prioritise your benefit list and refine the language used to communicate it by relating or mapping your benefits to your organisational and contextual information. This might include:
- Mapping benefits to your organisational strategy or other high level organisational objectives. Make the alignment of your benefits to organisational objectives explicit in your business case.
- Re-considering the target audience for your business case.
- Review granularity. What level of detail is appropriate (e.g. in somes cases you might want to talk about broad areas of interest rather than list benefits exhaustively)
- Use an approach such as the Grindley Benefits Funnel approach (see slide 10) to prioritise benefits that will be of most interest to your target audience
Use this to check that the process above has helped you generate the right content for your business case.
Following the process above should have helped you generate a list of benefits associated with your business case. These benefits should have been prioritised by aligning them with your organisational objectives and by considering the their value to your target audience for the case.
If you are using a business case template, you may have to present your benefits in a certain manner. For example, as an "Options appraisal". For more information see the parent section on Option appraisal/value for money analysis/return on investment.
McKinsey Article on the value of data: 'The need for growth and competitiveness will force companies to build strong digital capabilities. Viewing them as assets rather than additional areas of spending requires a new set of management and financial lenses. Embracing them is a major shift—but one worth making for companies striving to master a still-evolving landscape.' 
Benefits Funnel, Grindley http://www.slideshare.net/neilgrindley/digital-preservation-costs-versus-benepasig-dublin-oct-2012-dp-costs-final2 (slide 10)
- Developing in house and/or providing services to others
Return on Investment or value for money is becoming increasingly important for organisations that are intent on developing their own in-house solutions or wish to roll out their digital preservation service to others. As the number of organisations who identify digital preservation as a growing priority increases, there should be more potential for shared services as a sustainable approach to digital preservation. Therefore, especially if you are making the case for the development of an in-house solutions, you should consider both the value for money and whether rolling out this services to others is a viable option in the longer term?