How to Write a Business Case: The Subtle Art of Making Your Case
When you’ve got a brilliant idea and want to get the wheels in motion to move forward with it, the next step is to write a business case. However, for most people, that’s as far as their thinking goes.
They understand the general principles of what a business case is and why they need one. But when it comes to actually putting pen to paper and writing one? Not so much.
It’s not surprising, because many people struggle with knowing exactly what should go into it or how to structure it correctly. And that’s because there are nuances to this document that may not be immediately obvious if you don’t come across them regularly.
So, in this article, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about writing a business case so that when the time comes you can hit the ground running and have an effective document in hand with all its intricacies considered and implemented appropriately.
What is a Business Case?
A business case is a document that outlines a proposed course of action for a company. In simple terms, it’s a proposal explaining what you want to do and why you want to do it. This can refer to anything from a new product launch to property acquisition, or even a new initiative in the office.
A business case is a very important document. It’s essentially the blueprint for the success of your endeavours. It’s the document that explains how you’ll accomplish your goals, what actions you’ll take, and why you’re taking them in the first place.
It’s the document that supports your decisions and gives you a plan to follow.
Why Do You Need to Write a Business Case?
A business case is intended to justify a proposed investment or course of action. And it’s important to write it because a lot of the time you’re going to be dealing with people who have limited resources. In other words, you’ll be working with people who don’t have the funds to do everything they want to do.
So, on top of needing to justify your actions, you’ll also want to show that your actions are worthwhile. In other words, they’re worthy of funding. And to do that, you’ll need a detailed business case. The first step in writing a business case is to identify your stakeholders.
Who are the key people who affect the outcome of your decisions? You can’t just write a business case for yourself. You have to consider the opinions and needs of your co-workers and superiors as well.
What Should Be Included in Your Business Case?
As we’ve already discussed, a business case is a proposal explaining what you want to do and why you want to do it. However, what you write and how you structure it is key to making that happen.
You’ll need to answer three main questions to start:
By addressing these points, you’ll be on the right track. From there, you can decide what else you need to include in your business case as well as how to structure it. Here are some guidelines on what you’ll want to write in your business case.
- Introduction: Start out by providing a brief overview of the problem and what your solution is.
- Problem statement: Next, write out the problem statement. This is the core issue that you’re trying to solve.
- Proposed solution: Outline what your proposed solution is, along with any details about why you think it will solve the problem.
- Impact: Next, describe the impact your solution will have on the larger organization.
- Objectives: Finally, outline the objectives you’ve set for your solution. You’ll want to have at least one primary objective.
- Appendices: Include any relevant information in the appendices, like data, research results, and so on.
Step 1: Define the Problem and the Objective(s)
The first step when writing a business case is to clearly define the problem you’re trying to solve. In many cases, the problem statement will be based on some key statistics. For example, your company may have conducted research that shows product sales have declined in a specific region.
In this case, the problem is that sales are decreasing in a specific region, which may be due to a lack of marketing in that area. Next, you need to state the objectives you’re trying to achieve with your solution. For example, maybe you want to increase sales in that region.
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Determine How You’ll Measure Success and Articulate Your Objectives
When people first start in business, they often assume that success means hitting a certain sales or profit goal. But it’s way more complicated than that. Success means meeting all of the stakeholders’ needs and expectations. In other words, you have to make sure that everyone feels like they’ve gained something from your solution.
So, what do you need to cover? Here are a few examples:
- Financial impact: Does your solution make money for the company, save money, or both? If so, how much?
- Timeframe: How long will it take to implement your solution?
- Resource commitment: What is the expected level of effort related to implementing this solution?
- Risk: What are the potential risks associated with implementing this solution?
- Legal and regulatory compliance issues: Does your solution comply with all applicable laws and regulations?
- Organisational culture: Does your solution fit with the company’s culture?
Step 3: Assessing Risk, Developing Strategies and Options, and Forecasting Consequences
Next up, you need to assess the level of risk associated with implementing your solution. This will help you decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to pursue.
For example, if you’re considering launching a new product, you may discover that it will take three months for it to go from development to on-shelf. In this case, you’d want to take into account the fact that the product will probably miss the peak holiday season.
What about the impact of the solution on the rest of the organization? For example, will your product launch create a strain on the IT department? Will it create a shortage of inventory? Will it cause a cash flow problem?
Analysing all of this information will help you decide which solution is best.
Next, you want to develop strategies and options for moving forward with your solution. This will help you account for every possible consequence.
For example, if you’re considering launching a new product, you’ll want to think about what happens if it’s a success.
- Do you have the resources to scale up production?
- What happens if it doesn’t sell?
- Are there any other ways you can benefit from it?
Step 4: Select the Strategy with the Best Chance of Success
Finally, you need to select the strategy with the best chance of success. And, if you’ve followed the previous steps, you will have a lot of information to help you do this.
You don’t need to write a novel when writing a business case. In fact, most business cases are around 5-10 pages long. What you need to do is succinctly outline the problem, present your solution, and outline the expected outcome.
Now, this may sound easy, but many people struggle with getting everything right when writing a business case. So, make sure you understand these subtle nuances before diving in.
The key to writing a high-quality business case is having a detailed, structured outline that includes every vital aspect of the proposal. From the start, outline every point you want to make and the order in which you want to make them.
In this article, we went over what a business case is, why you need to write one, and what should be included in your business case. While writing a business case may seem daunting at first, following a few key steps can help make the process much easier.
We recommend that you start by outlining your business case. Then, research potential funding sources and decide which one you want to apply to. Next, outline the financial benefits of your proposal and how it will impact the organization. Then, create a detailed timeline for your campaign, and lastly, distribute your business case to key stakeholders.
With these steps in mind, you’ll be well on your way to writing a successful business case!