Steve Jobs once said, “You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.” At the same time, he didn’t suggest being completely reckless. Even if you have the strongest hunch that a particular tactic or tool will help you hire developers, it’s virtually impossible to get the green light from your executive team without a compelling business case.
The textbook definition of a business case is "a document that captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task." The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a long document. But there are a few mistakes that could mean the difference between optimizing your talent management strategy and having to scrap an idea. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid whenever you build a business case for hiring developers.
Data drives most (if not all) decisions that today’s C-Level executives make. If you’re unsure or unrealistic about how you’ll evaluate your tech hiring initiatives along the way, you’ll have a difficult time getting them off the ground.
For example, imagine that you’ve identified a new employer branding platform that you believe will help you hire Android Developers. If your company wants to hire three mobile developers, is that your only indicator of success or failure? It probably shouldn’t be. A more compelling business case would include metrics like increases in qualified applicants, a more well-defined profile of an ideal candidate, and the growth rate of your passive candidate pipeline.
If you’re taking the time to write a business case for a particular developer hiring project, you likely feel confident about that it’ll make a positive impact on your entire company. But what if things don’t go exactly to plan? Have you considered the potential negative outcomes of this initiative?
It’s never easy to acknowledge the ways that your idea could fall flat. Still, not only will this show your executive team that you’ve done your homework, but it will also make you more critical of your initiative in a positive way.
Sound intimidating? It doesn’t need to be. Consider this statement: “If the team does not have the anticipated bandwidth to complete the project, we will not be able to grow our developer pipeline by 20%.” That’s not a great outcome, but if you’re willing to put it in writing, it will put your executive team at ease about giving it a try.
Let’s say that you’ve thought of a project that you believe will help you hire five developers by the end of the year. On paper, that looks incredible. But think about what keeps your C-Level executives up at night. We’re not suggesting that you let them dictate how you do your job. At the same time, your ultimate goal as a talent acquisition leader is to support the entire company—and the initiatives that you wanted to launch might not exactly align with your company’s goals.
Instead of hiring as many developers as possible, perhaps your executive team wants to increase retention rates. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to shift gears. After all, your developer hiring strategy isn’t all about recruiting—and in this instance, you’ll make a more meaningful impression on the organization with a business case for something like a mentorship program for your current developers.
A business case would stand out if you claimed that a proposed project would enable you to hire a dozen developers by the end of this month. But it wouldn’t stand out for the right reasons. In fact, your C-Level team might not need a lot of time to decide that you’re overpromising.
Your talent management strategy needs to be carefully planned, which means that you need to be realistic about the potential outcome of an initiative. Increasing the budget that your developers can spend on education might help you retain more tech talent, but it probably won’t prevent all of them from considering new job opportunities.
As you’re building your business case, look back at previous metrics from similar tech recruiting initiatives. If one project helped retain 5% more developers, it’s reasonable to propose that a new retention program could grow that number by another five to ten percent. But if you claim that your idea will help your company retain 60% more programmers, your executives will ask to see more evidence—or they’ll tell you to go back to the drawing board.