~ By Carole Embden-Peterson
Writing a business case is a crucial component in the business process. In my article The Nuts and Bolts of Preparing a Business Case, I described its importance, and how to get started in writing one.
The first section is the overview; it sets the stage for your reader. This covers the background to the project, its history or the context surrounding the project. The Business Case Guide By Marty J Schmidt notes that, "Introductory statements will often "position" the case by reminding or telling the audience of such things as:
Here the reader wants to know how much or what it will take to accomplish the goal. In this section you would therefore outline the following financial metrics:
You will have to make some assumptions in a business case. Assumptions would come into place for instance, for predicting future prices, salaries, and business volume. Schmidt suggests
you record assumptions whenever you cannot take it for granted that any other analysts would make the same assumptions automatically.
This section discusses the rules of the case.
The data pertaining to cost and benefits are presented in this section. Cost information for instance, would cover salaries or computer software. Benefits would include sale profits and time savings. When presenting cost/benefit data, this could be done either showing the full values or incremental values depending on the purpose of the business case.
You can use incremental values if:
You can use full values if:
This is a crucial section of your business case. It is here that the reader wants to see, how business will be affected financially. This section should be factual with tables, graphs and explanation, but no interpretation or subjectivity.
You would present your:
Business cases have risks and uncertainties. These should be recorded and assessed on the likely impact this could have on business. This section also looks at the worst-case scenario and analyses the impact of external forces or situations such as prices, inflation, and changes in the economy.
This section also links the objectives of the case to contributions of different departments. It points out that reaching the goal is contingent on the contributions of the ABCD department or XYZ person. Reaching the goal could also be contingent on the services of an outside vendor or contractor. This should also be explained here.
This section wraps up all the points made in the introduction. No new points are introduced in the conclusion. The complete case is reiterated here tying in the business objectives with the important decision criteria necessary for the case to achieve its objective. Unusual results from your analysis and any findings that may be nebulous may also be clarified in this section.
The recommendation emanating from this, is the final portion of the business case. Schmidt recommends that you end with a formal recommendation statement. This statement should remind the audience/reader that it's now up to them for action, and why they should take a positive action and why the action is recommended.
To ensure that your business plan has a finished professional appearance you should include cover and preview sheets.
The cover sheet should include:
The first preview sheet(s) should include:
Presentation is the final ingredient to the success of your business case. Speak with aplomb and exude confidence. If any uncertainty is detected, that could sound the death knell for your case.
Schmidt, Marty, (2002) The Business Case Guide. Rochester, New York.
Carole Embden-Peterson has over 25 years experience as an award winning journalist, communication specialist and training development expert.