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4 Simple Steps to Produce a Successful Business Case with Free Template

Too often projects don't deliver their set-out objectives.

Often because they have not been planned realistically and with a clear focus.

To ensure your project meets objectives, use a business case to think about all aspects of your project from start to finish. 

In this post, we'll cover what a business case is, how it can help you and 4 simple steps to follow to produce a successful business case - we've also got a free template too!

Steps to producing a successful business case

What is a Business Case?

A well-planned business case provides decision-makers, stakeholders and the public with a management tool for evidence-based and transparent decision-making. It is a framework for the delivery and performance monitoring of the policy, strategy or project to follow thereafter. A good business case is crucial in delivering on objectives.

The information included in a business case usually includes the background of the project, benefits, options, budget, analysis and risks; similarly, to a SMART analysis.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Nowadays, public sector projects are required to justify their needs through a business case. In fact, it would take into consideration the social and environmental benefits to give a better understanding of the impact on the economy.

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What is Included in a Business Case? 

Your business case should act as a project plan from start to finish. Traditionally, a business case includes:

  • The contribution of the project to the organisation
  • What options are being considered for the project
  • The benefits of the project
  • Timescale of the project and specific milestones 
  • How and who is going to meet these milestones
  • Costs of the project 
  • Potential risks
  • Return on investment or time

These options are going to be different for every organisation and project, but in total, your business case needs to clearly state what you're looking to do, what the benefit of it is and the impact on the organisation - good or bad (risks). 

Your business case should answer these 4 key questions:

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the cost of not solving the problem? 
  • What is the benefit of the project?
  • What can we expect to see the benefits?

What is the Purpose of a Business Case?

Although your project might make sense to solve a key problem, it may not be viable in a business sense. After all, a new project is going to be a business investment so it needs in-depth consideration by senior leaders or the board. Identifying the risks, costs and benefits of the project in the business case makes this decision easier and speeds up the process. 

How do You Decide if a Project is Worth it?

The outline is simple: why, what, who and how. These are the necessary tools to decide if it is vital to continue a certain project. This is different compared to a ‘project proposal’ which outlines the business’s vision, needs, expected benefits, strategies, products and impact. A business case, however, has more details on the project, sponsors and key stakeholders before it can be accepted, declined or reviewed.

Before you create a business case, you need to ask yourself whether the project is worth it. Normally projects are problem solvers because, in one way or another, you did not meet your objectives. Therefore, you need to deal with the situation: when do I use a business case? Once the resources and expenses of a project have been justified and approved, by sponsors, management or other stakeholders who are involved, you can move forward with your business case.

Book your place on our APMG-accredited course for better business cases (Foundation level) to gain a deeper knowledge of business cases and use them to achieve project investments.

4 Simple Steps to Producing a Successful Business Case

1. Identify the problem

Projects are not just created for no reason. Usually, they're produced to solve a business problem that needs a solution or to offer a business opportunity of some sort. Simply describe the problem or opportunity, add in some effective and relevant research or competitor analysis and offer a timescale for completion. 

2. Identify the solutions 

Now you've identified a problem or business opportunity, you need to narrow down your ideas. It is difficult to know whether there is a ‘right’ solution, but using research, cost forecasts and risk analysis can help you decide. 

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3. Recommend the preferred solution 

After you've analysed a range of options, you can recommend or prioritise one using a scoring mechanism or rating out of 10. When rating your solutions, think about the risks, benefits, costs and project complexity. There will be pros and cons to each solution, so after a hard look and thinking, we're sure you'll choose what's best.

4. Describe how to implement the approach

Since there is no guarantee that a business case would be accepted, you need to ensure that it is convincing enough. How? Acquire a practical framework for a comprehensive persuasive business case and realism within the means of your organisation. This also involves effective strategic planning; objectives and other actions. You need to reveal why something may have changed or needs changing and why it is the best way forward for your organisation.

Increase Your Chances of Success With Our Free Downloadable Business Case Template 

Influence decision-makers, drive organisational performance and gain funds for projects using our free downloadable business case template. 

Click below to secure your free copy.

Free business case template