How To Write a Concise Business Case (With Template)
Updated July 21, 2023
A business case is a valuable document that helps justify and guide a professional project. You can use this document to guide your decision-making and evaluate your success. Understanding how to develop a business case at the onset of a new project can give you a clear outline to follow as the project progresses.
In this article, we explain how to write a business case and provide a template to help you start creating your own.
What is a business case?
A business case is a document that justifies a new project to management, investors and other interested parties. This document is crucial when a project requires a major investment of money or resources.
A project's sponsor is usually the individual who leads the development of a business case. They can present the business case to interested parties for evaluation, and the interested parties may approve, reject, defer or revise it as necessary.
A well-written business case clearly explains the value of the project. It evaluates both the projected benefits and the costs or risks, providing a clear rationale for proceeding. The exact scope of a business case depends on the project's unique nature. A typical business case may include elements like:
The project's purpose
Anticipated risks and benefits
Cost, investment appraisal and other commercial aspects
Comparison of options
Impact on operations
How to write a business case
You can follow these steps to develop and compose a compelling business case:
1. Identify the problem you're solving
Your business case can begin with a clear problem that the company needs to solve. Highlight the risks or costs the problem is causing or has already caused. Be sure to justify the need for a solution.
Related: 6 Challenges Most Businesses Face
2. Explore alternative solutions
To present a clear business case, you can evaluate all possible solutions. Work closely with colleagues to brainstorm all possible approaches to the problem. Research each possible solution, exploring each option's cost, timeline, risks and benefits.
3. Define the ideal solution
Determine which solution is best for the problem you're experiencing. This is the project that you can outline in your business case. Develop a compelling argument for why this solution is superior to the other options.
This may be that your proposed solution is the most affordable, quickest or most profitable option. Summarize how this approach is superior compared to each of the alternatives.
4. Create an executive summary for your project
Once you've thoroughly researched your project and developed a clear outline for the preferred solution, create an executive summary. This is a high-level statement that clearly explains the vital details of the project.
Edit this carefully, as the executive summary is the first point that reviewers typically analyze. This section compels the audience to examine the business case further.
Related: How To Write an Executive Summary
5. Detail the resources necessary for the project
Specify all the resources that are necessary for the project. In addition to a financial investment, you may also need resources such as IT support and data storage. If you want specific employees with certain expertise to work on the project, you may also specify this preference.
6. Outline the scope of the project
The level of detail that you choose to include here can vary depending on the project. Include all applicable sections for which you have relevant information. Some of the things that you may include are interdependencies, scope, impact, a market assessment, potential limitations and a purchasing strategy.
7. Provide a timeline for implementation and completion
Determine how long each stage of your project may take. Provide an estimate of the date for completion, and allocate for delays in case unforeseen circumstances arise. Divide your timeline into manageable sections that explain what you expect to happen during each phase of the project.
8. Specify the project's organization
Explain who you want to govern and work on the project. Outline the reporting structure to explain who you plan to report to for the duration of the project and what information you expect to provide. Specify the metrics that you can use to measure progress or determine the project's overall success.
Benefits of a business case
Here are some of the benefits of writing a business case:
You can evaluate all your options. A business case allows you to change direction before investing in a particular approach. When multiple projects compete for the same funds and resources, analyzing the business cases for each option makes it easier to compare these choices and make the right selection.
You can create a solid document to present. Creating a solid business case helps you present your project to multiple audiences and gain the necessary approval across all departments. This is one of the first documents you can create when you begin a new project, and the information it contains can help inform other steps if the proposal receives approval.
You can have a resource to create other documents. A business case provides a solid outline for developing additional documents, such as the project management plan. The information you provide in the initial business case converts easily to action steps and milestones.
You can have something to refer to when the project concludes. Upon project completion, you can compare the business case to the post-project evaluation. Evaluating these documents together can help you assess your level of success and determine whether the finished product satisfies the initial proposal.
Business case template
Consider using this template to help create a business case:
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
[Provide a concise summary of the project you're proposing. Include a clear justification specifying the problem and how your proposal will solve it.]
[Offer additional details about the problem in question. Explain how your solution aligns with the company's goals and mission statement. Describe the value of your proposed solution, clearly stating how it aligns with the company's organizational strategy.]
[Outline the alternative approaches to this problem. Summarize each option and include details that explain why other choices aren't as beneficial and how your chosen option is superior. This includes an evaluation of the risks, costs, functionality and potential for each approach.]
[Recommend the project that best solves the problem. Outline key details regarding this project, including:
This section may vary greatly with the project's scope, but it can provide readers with a clear understanding of what you propose to do and how you plan to accomplish it.]
V. PROJECT ORGANIZATION
[Specify how you plan to organize the project, detailing all roles and responsibilities.]
VI. PROJECT REPORTING
[Explain how you can monitor and measure progress throughout the project. Specify what reports you plan to submit, when they are due and who will receive and evaluate them.]
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
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