Craig challenged the inclusion of intangible benefits in a business case (here). I replied to his comments, but I thought I’d convert it to a post. Craig commented:
You know, I’m not so much a fan of putting intangible benefits into the business case. Into the presentation and discussions yes. Into the document, not really. How do you go about measuring them?
Craig’s comments get to the heart of the challenge w/ intangibles:
- Intangibles should indeed be considered “lesser” benefits. We suggest keeping the intangibles separate from tangibles and weighted differently than tangible benefits.
- Business cases are heavily dependent on company culture — e.g., finance-driven companies. If intangible benefits aren’t appropriate, don’t include them.
- If you’re going to put them into presentations and discussions, then they should be in the business case itself (and if they’re not in the business case, they shouldn’t be in presentations). My experience is that this approach causes huge expectations issues.
- Per the original post, sometimes we mistake intangible for hard-to-measure. If one can’t figure out how to measure them by the time one finishes the main set of requirements, perhaps it is time to remove the intangible or further discount it.
As implied by Craig’s comment, if there is not even a theoretical measure available, is the benefit intangible or imaginary?