Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar iconNot recorded
Adobe PDF icon

Writing an Unbeatable Business Case

~ By Simon Buehring

Closeup of businessman writing a document in the office

A project brief describes what needs to be done. The project plan explains how you are going to do it. The business case gives the reasons why.

In PRINCE2 terminology, the business case is the "driver" of the project. Senior management review the business case before authorising the initiation, and at each subsequent stage of the project. The business case is used as a yardstick to measure project progress. Before allowing any change to the project plan, the executive must consider the impact that this change will have on the business case.

In other words, without a business case, no project would ever get off the ground.

The business case justifies the investment of time, money and resources into a project by outlining the benefits that the project will bring. It is made up of eight key sections:

Reasons

Why is the project necessary?

The reasons you give must conform to corporate/programme strategy. You'd have a hard job convincing a clothing manufacturer that an advertising campaign persuading people to recycle last year's clothes instead of buying new ones would be an appropriate project to undertake. Another way of thinking about the reasons for a project is to consider what need the project will address. Is customer satisfaction low? Do your profit margins need a boost? Are you still using the same, snail-paced computers you acquired in 1983?

Options

What different options are available for addressing the identified need? Why is the option you have chosen (the project) the best of the bunch?

Showing that you have seriously considered all the possibilities will strengthen your business case. Providing senior management with all the available information will also maximise the chances for somebody to suggest an improvement. It is much better to change your project plan now than to watch it all collapse halfway through.

Benefits

This is where you persuade your audience that your project is worthwhile. Every possible benefit can be considered, tangible and intangible. Just make sure that you justify the benefits that you project.

If your project will increase profit, then present detailed figures as evidence. If the primary benefit is improved customer care or staff efficiency, then explain how this will happen and what the effects will be.

Risks

What are the main risks to project success? Be frank. Transparency will gain the confidence of senior managers and will demonstrate your foresight, realism and capability.

Cost

The senior project managers need to know the total projected cost before they can authorise the project. Justify each area of expenditure, so that nobody is in any doubt that the budget you have forecast is as accurate as possible.

Timescale

How long will the project take? Detail the activities and goals of each stage, and explain why the specified length of time is needed.

Investment Appraisal

This is where you pit the cost and benefits against one another in order to demonstrate once and for all that your project is a worthwhile investment. Before senior management can authorise your project, they need to know what they are getting for their money.

The investment appraisal, by detailing the costs and benefits over a fixed period of time, is the most direct way of quantifying "value for money."

Evaluation

Consider your own business case in an objective light. What are the strongest and surest benefits that you have promised? Why are they necessary? Why is your project the best way of achieving them?


Simon Buehring is a project manager, consultant and trainer. He works for KnowledgeTrain which offers training in PRINCE2 project management and PRINCE2 training in the UK and overseas. Simon has extensive experience within the IT industry. Contact him via the KnowledgeTrain project management training website


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
1500
What is the day after Friday?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Seven Key Principles of Project Management

Hand holding a key with success written on the fob

If you're looking for guidance to help you manage your project with added confidence, then this article will help you.

Taming MS Project

Gantt chart and plan

Microsoft Project can become a huge overhead, even for seasoned project managers. This article contains some tips and tricks that will help you tame the tool.

Building Teamwork

Business colleagues arranging multicoloured labels on a meeting table

Teamwork isn't something that just happens. The project leader needs to put in the time and effort to build the team and help everyone get along. Here's how.

Undertaking a Successful Project Audit

Audit checklist clipboard with checkboxes marked for related concepts

A project audit provides an opportunity to uncover issues, concerns and challenges encountered during the project lifecycle.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Samara Grantham commented on…
12 Tips for Being a Good Manager
- Thu 1 December 2:46pm

Adolfina commented on…
Introduction to Project Management
- Mon 21 November 9:52am

Edward Brown commented on…
Project Status Reports Everyone Can Understand
- Wed 16 November 3:38pm

Latest tweets

November’s Top 10 Inbound Marketing Must-Reads https://t.co/uz0mRNbVzz about 9 hours ago

General Project Management • Re: Prioritising Change Requests https://t.co/hZ2PBgxtLN #projectsmart #pmot about 2 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Project Resource Challenges https://t.co/ITT5p6Pnje #projectsmart #pmot about 2 days ago