How to Write Business Use Cases for Chatbots (+TEMPLATE)
In most companies, implementing a chatbot solution is a big deal.
Lots of people have to get involved, multiple seniors have to give sign-offs on a budget, time allocation, staff resourcing, and more.
Psst, want to get straight to the template? I got you: Get the most comprehensive chatbot business case template.
Big deal projects usually mean preparing a business case. The question is, though: how do you prepare a business case for a chatbot?
In this article, we will touch on everything you and your business must be ready to discuss while putting together your business case. There's also a handy template you can grab up there or at the bottom of the article.
Are chatbot use cases different?
Most companies have put documents like these together before, why would one for a chatbot be any special?
In our experience, there are three key areas that differ when writing a chatbot business case: budget, users, and suppliers.
Funnily enough, these are the three areas I'm going to dive into next. It's almost like I planned this piece of content.
In all seriousness, while most of our clients have a wealth of experience putting this type of documents together, they still tend to use our template. I would advise you at least give it a read to pick out the things your own template may have missed.
Structuring your chatbot business case
There are ten areas your business case document must cover before handing over to the project team for sign off.
- Executive summary: a few words summarising the need for the project, the budget required, and sign-off request.
- Business case: who is going to be involved?
- Strategy: why do we need a chatbot?
- Suppliers: who have we spoken to about building this chatbot?
- Economy: success and risk assessment
- Operational: contracts and procurement strategy
- Financial: investment and ROI
- Management and operational: org charts
In our template, we go in-depth within each of these sections. I'll let you discover them at your leisure.
I picked three subsections out from this structure because I know they are the ones our customers are most likely to be unfamiliar with.
Putting your case together: key discussions
A business case is a rigid document. Even a fairly basic structure is quite long and thorough. And, it's only ever complete when all the information is put into a neat structure, easy to present, and the numbers make sense.
To do so, though, I believe it's important the project champion (most likely you, reader -- hi!) has discussions with key people within (and outside of) their organisation.
1. Budget holders
The budget pretty much rules the project, and thus the business case. Without a budget, nothing can happen.
It's all well and good to come up to your budget holder and ask them for a magic number, but they'll probably look deep into your eyes and say 'what's a chatbot and what does it cost?'.
Ball's back in your court. Let's get you prepared for that discussion.
We believe there are three frameworks when it comes to building a chatbot: DIY, proof of concept, and tailored.
- A DIY chatbot is usually free/very low cost. Someone would use a drag and drop platform and build themselves.
- A proof of concept (PoC) chatbot is a low friction prototype of the ideal solution you're after. They are usually the high 4-figures / low 5-figures. We always recommend our customers first purchase a PoC from us before going full tailored. It makes sense financially and technically.
- A tailored chatbot is a fully integrated, end-to-end solution that rocks your world. It's tougher to give an exact price range for those, as they can be extremely complex. As a general rule of thumb, though, they would be in the mid-5 figures and up.
Armed with this information, you can now lead the discussion with your budget holder and fill out your budget / financial sections of the business case.
If this is your first business case, this one might be a bit confusing.
Project users are the individual on your team that will use the chatbot solution, not from an end user standpoint but from a project standpoint.
If you've purchased a learning management system (LMS) or a content management system (CMS) before, you can easily understand this distinction.
A CMS end user might be your website readers. A CMS project user, though, is the marketer publishing the content.
With all our chatbot solutions come a suite of tools aimed at making your project users' life amazing (dashboard, content suite, human takeover feature, and more). It's important you have a conversation with the people you intend to put in charge of using this chatbot.
These discussions will flesh out your power users (people who will do really well using the chatbot) and your team champions (beyond you, people who love the project and will help you put the show on the road).
Finally, one of the biggest parts of your business case: the suppliers.
When we started working in chatbots (about 15 years ago), there was us and... well, almost no one else. Today, chatbots are a bit more mainstream (woohoo!) which means you have more of a choice to make.
This is fantastic news, as most project sponsors will require you to look into a least a few suppliers. It would be unusual to turn in a business case with just the one.
The problem is, once again, how do you interview, review, and asset good chatbot building companies?
The most comprehensive way to do it (which we would advise) is to use a standardised framework to evaluate candidates. We've shared one we made using insights from our clients, what they asked (and what they forgot to ask). You can grab it here: 20 Questions for Your Chatbot Developer (Worksheet).
You may want to go a little bit less in-depth while you're still putting this business case together. If that's the case, I would advise you round up three chatbot building companies into your document, along with their answers to these questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your experience working on [your niche / project] chatbots?
- Can you share some of the achievements you've had with clients in the [your department] sector?
- Can you share a broad price range for what we're after?
Fair warning: for the last three questions, a good chatbot development company will drill you right back. I know we do.
That's half the purpose of these questions. A company that doesn't ask anything back, whacks out random numbers, and gives you a bog standard price is probably not what you're after.
Be prepared to open up about your project and your goals. That's the only way you'll get truly insightful feedback from these interviews.
Putting a business case together is, like I said at the start, a big deal. There are many moving parts and even more unknowns to navigate.
If you are endeavouring into the world of chatbots for the first time, the newness of the technology may be an additional unknown. Our hope is this article and the accompanying Chatbot Business Case Template will help you clear the path to success.