BUSINESS CASE 101: What’s in a Business Case?

For a newbie in the work environment, one may encounter a document called business case but might not be sure of what it is, or what it is used for. One may be asked to write a business case on behalf of a colleague or a manager. At any case, it would be good to know what it is and what are included so that it would be easier to navigate through it in the writing process.

Simply put a business case is a document containing information that is aimed to assist a decision maker to do a specific course of action. It is primarily a persuasive kind of document that is backed up by facts, figures, budgetary figures or financial forecasts, and additional information aiming to convince the organisation to approve of a plan, a concept, or to fund a project. Usually it will also aim to show why investing in the idea/concept/plan or project will benefit the organisation, and what the outcomes of the investment would be.

A business case would be structured in the following way, however note that different organisations have different templates or structures. This list would have what are typically included:

  • Executive Summary (which will be written last, when all the components are completed)

  • Objectives (to include description of what the case aims to do, in relation to current situation, and future situation, and a bit of an explanation on the “why”)

  • Overview (an expansion on the points raised in the objectives, like discuss opportunities, cite the need, and the impact of the case), including an explanation of what other alternatives have been looked into in relation to your case/proposal

  • The Case (or the proposal or the concept you wish to put forward, describe what exactly you propose to do)

  • Case Details or Implementation Plan ( here you describe or list what are to be done to ensure case is delivered successfully)

  • Any assessments undertaken to minimise risks or to resolve potential issues that may arise in the implementation

  • Who are your key players? Collaborators? Stakeholders?What is your communication plan (including marketing, ways of interacting with all involved)Financial requirements and overview (discusses budget, expenses, income if applicable)

  • What is required? This is something like a “where to, from here” or a conclusion section outlining what you are expecting as a result of everything you have said so far

Some business analysts believe that the business cases should not be overly voluminous or thick to read, it could be compact and presented with enough information for the decision makers to digest. Additional information can come in the form of annexes or attachments. Other elements of a good business case that have been mentioned in various literature include, a clear service-oriented problem statement, a clear statement of benefits, the ability to package information in a variety of formats, including handouts, presentation material such as slides, or mock-ups/demonstration or videos. The decision maker should be able to glean from the document, an ability to compare features, costs and benefits, and stake holder impact for each option or idea put forward. Finally, it should showcase how the business or organisation will benefit as a whole. Good luck with the preparation of your business case, let me know if you need help by sending me an email at mimi@dynosocial.com.