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Business Case: From gains & pains to KPI's

Although not a new concept, “gains and pains”-concept may be used as “a framework” that helps the writer of a business case with starting up a project.

Business Cases exist in many flavours and are intended to present the reasoning for starting up a project to a project sponsor.

As an IT project manager, I searched for an easy and generic approach to detect the reasons (whether financial, operational, cultural, …), as well to define the goals and the measurements needed to monitor the business case!

Although not a new concept, I believe that the “gains and pains”-concept – often used for defining value proposition – may be used as “a framework” that helps the writer of a business case to describe the reasons together with its goals for starting up a project

Putting theory into practice, I give an example from one of my customers, that  briefly describes how a “pain” was translated into a solution and how the goals were defined for that specific solution

First we discussed which pains my customer had. Soon it became very clear that involvement of people was a major pain, this due to historical reasons and the culture spread. From a technology perspective, we tried to help the customer in finding a solution to help the customer’s employees improving their involvement within their professional environment. The assumption was that employees could easily use any external social collaboration platform to spread their ideas about the company publicly.  Therefor a private social collaboration platform was introduced, allowing ALL employees to facilitate horizontal and bottom-up communication.

As a result, employees got more and more involved into the company processes, as they were able to express their thoughts about almost any process in the company,. The platform allowed upper management to capture their employees’ thoughts and comments as an input for improving processes and circumstances. Measuring involvement became easy: the more people who shared their ideas on the private social collaboration platform, the better processes were adapted and the better these processes were perceived by the employees.


This is what happened mathematically. By defining a pain, the company got a gain at the same price of one pain!

  • Pain:  Lack of involvement
  • Goal:  Improve involvement of employees and indirectly improve processes
  • Gain:  Improved processes
  • How:   A private social collaboration tool and capturing the ideas of employees about internal processes
  • KPI and Measurements:  Counting the number of input and measuring the effect of adapted processes onto the employees via a simple tool called “Survey”!

Of course, we all agree that most business cases consist of multiple pains and gains, having each their own goals and measurement tools.

Hopefully this simple example may help other people in defining a business case.


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