You’ve been told to write a business case, but what needs to go into it?
A documented business case is a great way to put a proposal on paper and take it through the required governance forums within the business prior to sign-off and execution. But what do you put into the “business case” that you’re expected to share for a sign-off?
Define the proposal or project and the key outcomes that are being targeted. Being clear on the purpose and providing context to the reader (who will most likely be an approver) will help to set the scene for the analysis that follows.
Undertake a clear and calculated cost analysis. By virtue of you being asked to write a business case there is likely a cost associated with its delivery. Even if there is no capital cost associated with the proposal there will likely be a time cost. Time of those within the business is still an effective cost to the business. Being clear on the cost and the rationale that supports that figure is needed to credentialise the business case and the proposal.
Define the benefits. You’ve set out the costs, now be clear on the benefits! There should be an identifiable benefit to pursuing the proposal, otherwise it’s a cost without the upside. Being clear on when benefits may be realised and the upside from the required investment is your opportunity to win over the reader.
Consider the options. This proposal won’t be the only way to do things and may not be the only proposal on the table so be clear on how the proposed benefits could be achieved in other ways and the other options available. And remember, “do nothing” is always an option and is a good way to articulate the base case and thereby case for change.
Provide a summary. Help your reader with their decision by reiterating the key points and outlining the proposed next steps. The management summary may be the section you want to focus on when delivering the proposal in person to an audience who have already read the business case.
How will the costs and benefits be monitored? It’s all well and good outlining the costs and benefits on paper but a business case is written at a point in time and the world changes. Consider how to proactively monitor the changes that would impact the delivery of the proposal and what can be done to protect the benefits you plan to realise.