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How to build an enterprise collaboration business case

Making a collaboration system work in your enterprise

enterprise collaboration business case

As your teams move from old-style collaborating with email and file attachments inside your inboxes, to new ways of working and sharing with collaboration tools like Kahootz, then you, your teams and your company need a different mindset.

While the potential power of these new style collaboration systems for enterprises like yours gathers momentum, it’s those who understand how to gain value who will succeed.

Managing the transformation requires developing a deep understanding of human communication and the culture of the organisation, as well as the technology – how can they work effectively together?

Research shows that three things are critical in most organisations to make a collaboration solution work effectively:

Why are we doing this? What is the strategic rationale? All evidence suggests that if a project cannot deliver business benefits it will fail as it won’t get the required support. A good business case and ROI is essential.

Getting the workforce engaged. Unless users engage with the system, understand what’s in it for them and use it effectively to collaborate, it will not deliver the benefits.

Making it happen. It’s easy to start a LOCAL “skunkworks” project but to roll a collaboration system out usually needs getting the resources and attention of the enterprise behind it.

Why are we doing this? Building a strategic rationale

Most organisations start using collaboration systems for poorly defined, qualitative reasons and find it hard to describe benefits in quantifiable terms.

Enterprises that do adopt these systems typically start with requiring basic benefits of collaboration and communication, but the systems quickly expand into areas such as helping with project management, process workflow, knowledge management and a variety of enterprise-specific vertical applications.

But often no one believes these extra use cases initially, so it’s best to use what we call the “Base Case plus “Free” Upside Case” approach to quantify the savings and build the ROI.

Building an enterprise collaboration business case  

The Base Case looks at benefits that are generic to information workers in any enterprise. There is some research that allows quantification of expected benefits – see table below.

In summary, a well-executed collaboration solution can save about 20% of an information worker’s daily time.

Base case – table of potential benefits  

Potential Benefit

Proportion of day %

Base Case Benefit %

Potential Benefit %

Dealing with email




Finding information




Internal communication & collaboration



c 3.5%

Task-specific roles








Upside Case Factors

There are also about 20 different possible “Upside Case” factors which are more enterprise dependent.

There are enterprises using these systems to move factories, deliver spares, and support many other business processes. Examples are shown below:

Function Area

Examples of Potential Value Gained


New Product Development

  • Crowdsourcing ideas internally and externally
  • Rapid feedback from the field and customer service

Operations & Logistics

  • Project deliveries – moving factories and hospitals are two major examples, but also managing smaller programmes
  • Systems become part of the workflow – scheduling, inventory management
  • Logistics – collaborating with suppliers and customers to minimise waste and delay

Sales & Marketing

  • Marketing and PR
  • Customer help at time of ordering

Customer/Stakeholder Service

  • Customer service
  • Stakeholder communication

Operational Unit Level

  • Cross unit collaboration across “silos”
  • Moving information across silos
  • Knowledge Management

Making it Happen – Building a Business Case

return on investment

In most enterprises building the business case is essential to getting resources and wider support. This can be very time consuming and difficult.

Instead, you should look to build a high-level base case that is already Return on Investment (ROI) positive, and the harder to calculate Upside areas become “bonus” cases.

Building a Base Case

A “first cut” is to use the Base Case model in the earlier table:

  1. Look at the number of people that can be impacted.

  2. After checking which of those elements applies, look at what the benefit could be – but then halve it, as that is about the mid-case for the average user engagement.

  3. Multiply this saving by the average salary and that is a first cut estimate of potential savings. If that is interesting (and it should be in most enterprises) that is great, because this project makes economic sense even before any upsides are found.

“Free” Upside Case Estimates

This is enterprise dependent and is where recruiting the enthusiasts across the organisations come in – ask them where they can see the systems being used.

As a first cut, ask them to estimate the relative sizes of the benefits. This can be presented as “Free” upsides – the Base Case already pays for the system; the possible Upside benefits are a bonus!

Estimating the Costs

Estimating the Costs of enterprise collaboration

There are four major cost drivers that usually need to be considered, these are:

  • Costs of people managing the implementation and training the users.
  • Costs of system usage – there is usually a setup cost of setting up the system. This is far smaller if it is cloud based where you are typically paying per user per month.
  • User time consumed in training and learning the system.
  • Ongoing support costs – a few people needed to monitor, mentor, maintain and mediate systems on an ongoing basis.

Growth modelling

It is essential to model the expected growth, month by month, because the growth in usage will drive most of the costs and benefits. Start with a “Worst Case” (minimum needed to cover the fixed costs). It is not essential to be fully precise, but there are 2 main elements:

  • Total user growth per unit time (e.g. per month). This will drive many of the costs.
  • Monthly utilisation – what % of users engage with a system per day, week, month etc. This drives most of the benefits.

Most enterprises have their own way of calculating the details, but in general, it is the rate of cost growth vs. benefit growth over time and calculating a Return on Investment (ROI) rate.

If you would like to find out more about how to build an enterprise collaboration business case and read a case study about how NHS England achieved this, download our guide now:


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