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How Business Scenarios Lead to Project Scope

13 min read


Start with business scenarios to build your project scope

Scoping a marketing technology project can be a daunting task. There are several stakeholder views to consider including, but not limited to, the executive sponsor, the business leads, the technical and business subject matter experts.  Aligning on a project scope that is realistic and achievable given the project constraints like time and budget require clear definition and communication about the project priorities. This article will help you build consensus among the stakeholders and frame a project scope through the use of business scenarios.

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The business need to deliver tangible results as soon as possible, provide reliable plans, and demonstrate incremental value can create challenges and frustrations for many project managers and consultants. As you have seen in other articles in the Project Delivery Framework for SAP Marketing Cloud such as “Master the Challenges of Digital Marketing” and “Learn How to Crawl with a Minimal Viable Product”, a good understanding of the business scenarios to be achieved is a key factor in delivering a successful project. 

By focusing on the creation of business scenarios to articulate the scope of the project, you can build a project plan that delivers a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) that will quickly demonstrate value.  It’s important to note that the MVP is not the least amount of functionality possible to meet project constraints like time or budget – it’s the solution that can bring the most value to the organization, considering those project boundaries.  You can then progressively build upon that MVP in order to realize greater levels of adoption and benefit to the organization.

This article will help you scope your project and build your value realization plan by starting with business scenarios.

Baselining Our Project Terminology and Process

SAP Marketing Cloud can be implemented by applying different project frameworks. SAP Activate is a proven methodology that can help you to move fast. The details of SAP Activate as it relates to an SAP Marketing Cloud implementation can be seen in the article, Project Delivery Framework for SAP Marketing Cloud.  SAP Activate uses familiar terms from scrum, one of the most popular agile frameworks, such as user stories and iterations. It is based on a staged project approach consisting of the Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy and Run phases. The Explore phase is where the project scoping is concentrated and two deliverables for this phase are a prioritized requirements list, or product backlog, and a refined or detailed plan for the project.  The backlog is the set of themes, epics and user stories that will drive the realization of value through the appropriately named Realize phase.  User stories are descriptions of desired functionality told from the perspective of the user or customer.  Epics are larger user stories which typically describe process or scenario, and themes are a collection of related user stories.

Starting Point: The Business!

For many projects, the starting point for the Explore phase is a set of workshops to gather customer requirements and define the scope of the project.  It’s where the functional and technical teams get together and hash out what’s going to be delivered – or at least what is desired to be delivered.  Many project teams start with a layout of the functionality and related data requirements to deliver that scope, but they miss a crucial step before jumping into this kind of activity. 

They need to take a step back and understand the business priorities and the key business scenarios. The vision and mission of the organization as well as the customer/buyer journeys give guidance to the team and shape the business scenarios that will drive the needed functional and technical scope.  Exploration of these areas will lead to a deeper understanding of what the business needs to achieve and allow the team to build the user stories into the project backlog and work breakdown structure which drive the project plan.

Furthermore, by defining the project scope through the lens of the business scenarios to be achieved (which are tied back to the vision and mission of the organization) the value of each and every user story can be clearly articulated.  The project scope can therefore be prioritized based on the value of the user stories and their related business scenarios.  Rather than having the project scope measured in terms of adherence to the documented specifications, progress can be tracked in terms of the rate of incremental business value delivered. 

What Is a Business Scenario? 

Business scenarios typically describe either a component of a consumer/customer journey or a part of the daily life of a marketer from an end-to-end perspective. In the article, "Business Scenarios - Learn How to Articulate Tangible Campaigns", we saw how to create tangible tactics to bring those scenarios to life through campaign briefings.  The campaign briefing is the recommended practice to document and share the business scenarios.  As such, they are the summary of multiple use cases/user stories in an ordered sequence. The level of granularity as well as how broad the end-to-end perspective is, should be defined by the needs for the project and the expected value.   

  • They help to articulate the value of a pool of uses cases/user stories and their underlying functions & features
  • They can serve as prioritization criteria for the backlog items in an agile project
  • They are a great foundation for test scenarios/scripts, especially when 3rd party testing organizations are part of a project
  • They can be used as sign off & success criteria and as such guarantee continuity across the project life cycle
  • Their level of abstraction allows for a common understanding across business units, IT and the implementation team
  • They can be the basis for the business user training & enablement
  • They are the key to derive the correct support measures during the warm-up/hyper care phase
  • They can be the basis for all campaign briefings

Here are some examples of campaign briefings that you can refer to:

Campaign Example - Product Launch

Campaign Example - Product Experience

Campaign Example - Interest-Based Lead Nurture

Campaign Example - Personal Trade Fair Experience

Note that from an SAP Marketing Cloud product perspective, the out-of-the box functionality is described in terms of business scenarios as well. Those business scenarios are built up of sequential business processes which are designed to achieve key business objectives and can include one ore more scope items. For more information about SAP Marketing Cloud business scenarios, see Business Scenarios.

Exploring the Explore Phase

As we’ve seen in Project Delivery Framework for SAP Marketing Cloud, implementation projects typically have a set of workshops and discussions as part of the Explore phase.

The Business workshop is designed to identify the business scenarios, define the communication channels, nominate the organizational unit, and consider the geographical requirements to build the MVP, that can be delivered.  From the business scenario perspective, the strategy of building the MVP should focus on two to three key scenarios from which others could be spawned.  See Learn How to Crawl with a Minimal Viable Product to learn more about building an MVP for your marketing technology project.

The technical and functional workshop, or set of workshops, focus on the data sources, the features required to be activated in the system, translating those features to align to the architecture, and defining any data model or API enhancements.  A key component of this workshop is a fit-to-standard discussion where the consulting team demonstrates the standard configuration to identify limitations or additional needs to be addressed based on the earlier business workshop results.

The business foundation activation workshop details tactics related to matching and merging of contact information, permission marketing, marketing areas, and authorizations.  Through these workshops, the functional and technical scope of the MVP can be defined, using the business scenarios to anchor the project to the overall business objectives.

Once these workshop results have been consolidated and documented, the project team can fine tune the timeline, finalize the scope backlog and prepare to deliver the value through the Realize phase.

How Do We Build a Plan Based on Scenarios?

The short answer is that we don’t.  Through the workshops and discussions in the Explore phase, we’ve zeroed in on the scenarios that will bring us the most business value, and we’ve broken those scenarios into user stories that represent key building blocks.  We have also defined the technical steps required to deliver those user stories to the business.  The scenarios serve as guiding principles or themes for the project work to be done, and we build a plan based on the user stories which are linked to the business scenarios. 

As the project was defined, or at the latest when it was kicked off, there was a high-level plan defined for the project which was introduced to the team in the Prepare phase (see Project Delivery Framework for SAP Marketing Cloud).  Using the SAP Activate methodology as a reference, we would have had an idea of the time-boxes required for Prepare and Explore phases, as well as a rough idea of the Realize phase (made up of iterations of a defined duration) to meet the project constraints like a desired go-live.  Now that we have a set of user stories we can plan when to deliver those stories in the most efficient way – to prioritize the backlog based on business value and build our sprints to achieve the fastest time to value possible.  In other words, we build the project plan by:

  • Having a high-level plan to work from as defined in the prepare phase
  • Conducting the business, technical/functional, and tactical workshops to build the prioritized backlog of user stories for the project
  • Building the sprint backlogs
  • Defining the User Acceptance test plan, go-live plan, training plans, post go-live support plans etc
  • Break down the work in an appropriately named work breakdown structure, or WBS
  • Document the detailed plan that can be easily communicated and shared

Example of a Project Plan Based on Business Scenarios

The example below is taken from a marketing cloud project.  The project team used business scenarios to represent the end-to-end flow, or a particular marketer activity to be tackled and built campaign briefings to support the communication of the scenarios within the project team as well as with their stakeholders.  The high level plan was broken down into a sprint plan for the Realize phase, where the team could build and experiment in the test environment, based on the prioritized backlog which was produced during the Explore phase.  The backlog was prioritized based on the business scenarios and the value of the deliverables to the marketing organization.  As you can see below, the user stories (summarized for clarity) focused on what could bring the agreed upon business scenarios to life as an MVP, with additional stories such as budgeting & planning as nice-to-have features. Note that the sprint backlogs can be changed before the start of the sprint based on other constraints such as technical dependencies, hence permission history was delivered in later sprint, but the project team was able to use the business scenarios to keep the project stakeholders aligned.

Prioritized Business Scenarios

  1. Newsletter (Awareness) Campaign
  2. Social Campaigns

High Level Plan with Realize Phase Broken Down into Sprint Plan

  • Finalize basic SMC set up
  • Consumer profiling
  • CRM Integration - contacts and accounts
  • analyze campaign success
  • Maintain Target Groups
  • Define A/B testing for e-mail
  • Maintain template and content e-mails
  • Maintain business users and roles
  • Suppression rules and communication limits
  • Maintain application jobs
  • Execute newsletter campaign
  • Execute welcome e-mail (trigger based campaign)
  • Maintain segmentation building blocks
  • Maintain segmentation models
  • Execute website registration
  • Display customer permission history
  • Export file campaign
  • Customer journey manager
  • Budgeting and planning
  • Google Ads campaign
  • Facebook campaign


This article has provided some guidance related to business scenarios, SAP Activate methodology as it pertains to marketing technology projects, and how to build a plan based on business scenarios rather than functional or technical requirement lists.  There is a lot more to learn and apply within your own projects and be sure to check out the other related articles.

Master the Challenges of Digital Marketing

Business Scenarios - Learn How to Articulate Tangible Campaigns

Learn How to Crawl with a Minimal Viable Product

Sample Project Plan using Business Scenarios (coming soon)

If you're interested in working with our SAP Marketing Cloud services team to support you in building business scenarios and campaign briefings we offer a Campaign Ideation Guidance service.  

If you'd like SAP to support you and potentially your implementation partner with respect to your project we have other services that may be of interest - see our Portfolio of Services.