How to write a business case

How to Write a Business Case (Examples & Ready Template)

Are you struggling to prepare a business case? Follow our step-by-step guide and prepare your business case in an engaging way.

A business case is a framework that provides a clear roadmap of a project execution referring to points before, during, and after the project. Typically, it includes a business proposal, strategy, budget, and timeline.

So, higher authorities and decision makers can envision the impact of every phase of the project management life cycle with risk assessment.

If you’re planning to present a project idea to your management, but are not sure how to get started with a business case document, we’re here to help.

This blog shows you how to write a business case and exclusive tips to make your presentation engaging. At the end of the blog, you’ll get a ready template to create your very own business case report.

So, without any further ado, let’s get into the details!

Why Do You Need to Write a Business Case

You need to get consent from the management if you want to start a new project or bring any change to your company. A business case helps to convince the decision-makers by answering these questions: what, who, for whom, why, how, when, and at what price.

It describes why a particular project should be initiated and how the outcomes of a project will overweigh its execution costs.

Let’s find out some more reasons why you need to write a business case:

  • Developer: A developer should write a business case to explain his idea and convince his team members or leader what value he can bring to the company.
  • Marketing Executive: He may use a business case to propose a new ad campaign that will require a marketing budget increase.
  • Finance Team: The financial team may need to present a business case to justify reallocating resources from one department to another within a company in order to promote overall success.
  • HR Manager: HR team may need to use a business case to obtain permission to launch a new wellness program within the company that would require both time and money to implement.

Also, it’s seen that in 63% of cases, projects get finished in due time and budget if there was a business case in the first place.

Business Case vs Business Plan – Any Difference

It’s easy to get confused between a business case and a business plan. Because both the terms are quite similar. However, there are some differences between them.

A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business, and your strategies for achieving those goals. 

A business case zooms in. It looks at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project that you’re going to manage in the first place. 

While a business plan tackles how you want to grow an overall business, a business case tackles one problem at a time.

Let’s find the differences from this table.

Business CaseBusiness Plan
ObjectiveWorks on a specific problem and ways to solve it.Works with overall goals for the business and strategies for achieving those goals.
What forIt helps decision-makers choose between project options. It’s used for prioritization and internal budget approval.Business plans layout entire plans for new businesses, major changes to existing businesses, or broad plans for a company’s future.
Who forIt’s presented to the relevant internal stakeholders, including someone who can give budget approval.It’s presented to investors, shareholders, or the senior leadership team within businesses.
FocusIt has a narrower focus, including a presentation of the problem, options, finances, risks, and benefits.It has a broader focus, including competitor analysis, a marketing plan, and a business model presentation.

How to Write a Professional Business Case (Step by Step)

An image that shows two people discussing how a business case should be written.

The purpose of writing a business case is to figure out a problem and pitch ideas to overcome the situation or offer creative ideas for the betterment of the company. Furthermore, your business case should be written in a convincing way so that the stakeholders agree with your plan.

To write such a business case, follow this step-by-step guide-

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Problem/Opportunity Statement
  3. Problem/Opportunity Analysis
  4. Offer Solution
  5. Financial Overview
  6. Implementation Timeline

If any of the above-mentioned points seem unfamiliar to you or confusing, don’t be worried. Now we are going to take an in-depth look at each point. Let’s get started with the first one- Executive Summary!

Step 01: Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section of your business case. Usually, it’s the gist of your whole business case that you are going to present. The executive summary is supposed to give your stakeholders a quick overview of your project.

When writing an executive summary, try to give answer these questions:

  • What is the problem or opportunity?
  • What are the benefits of solving the problem or pursuing the opportunity?
  • How much will it cost to solve the problem or pursue the opportunity?
  • What are the risks associated with the proposed solution or opportunity?
  • When will stakeholders start seeing results?

Though it’s the first section, you should write after completing all the parts of your business case. The first impression is very crucial, so make it right!

Step 02: Problem/Opportunity Statement

If you haven’t completed the Executive Summary in the first place, the Problem/Opportunity statement is the first thing that you are going to write.

Basically, in this part, you have to elaborate on the specific topic that you want to talk about. It could be an existing problem of your company that you want to solve. Or, it could be an opportunity that you want to take as a company to take your company to the next level.

Let’s check some possible business problems for getting ideas-

  • Declining sales
  • Declining profitability
  • Increased competition
  • Declining market share
  • Out-dated product portfolio

Also, here are some possible business opportunities that you can take inspiration from-

  • New product ideas
  • Adopting new technology
  • New feature ideas to beat competitors
  • A new geographical region to sell to

Clearly define your statement in this section to your stakeholders. Also, don’t forget to clarify if it’s a problem-solving case or an opportunity case.

Step 03: Problem/Opportunity Analysis

This image shows 4 people are discussing about a business case

In this segment, you have to explain your ideas from different angles. Such as background information, benefits, limitations, interdependencies, risk assessment, market assessment, and a few more. Let’s talk about them now!

Background Information

The purpose of this section is to give a clear introduction to the business case and project. It should contain a brief overview of the reasons why the project or business change has come about: the problem, opportunity, or change of circumstances.

If necessary, refer to related programs, projects, studies, or business plans.

Benefits and Limitations

This part of your business case should reflect the financial and non-financial outcomes of your idea. Also, don’t forget to mention if there is any limitation to implementing this idea.

You should be specific, like-

  • Reduce working capital
  • Generate revenue
  • Remain competitive
  • Improve customer service
  • Align to corporate strategy

Also, share the limitations, like-

  • Budget issue
  • Limitation of expert people
  • Resource support, and so on.

Interdependencies

This part should state key interdependencies with other projects. It is important for the business case to consider the failure of other interrelated projects and show how such dependencies make impact benefits.

Risk Assessment

You should not only think about the problems that you are currently dealing with to implement your idea, but also you should think of problems that can arise in the middle of the implementation. And you should design this segment according to this scenario.

Every project should include a risk log like the following-

  • What risks are involved?
  • What are the consequences of a risk happening?
  • What opportunities may emerge?
  • What plans are in place to deal with the risks?

Market Assessment

The market assessment should show a complete understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates. A good starting point is the inclusion of political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental analysis.

Which is combinedly known as PESTLE analysis.

Project Approach

The project approach describes how the project is planned. That is the way in which work is done to deliver the project.

For instance, a project with much of the work contracted out is likely to take a different approach to a project that develops an in-house solution.

Step 04: Offer Your Solution

An image that describes 3 people are brainstorming for a solution.

After introducing and analyzing the problem, now it’s time to recommend the solution. You can also come up with alternative solutions. Then rank them and eventually choose the best possible solution among alternatives.

Be sure to have a compelling argument for why the solution you choose is the best among other options. The best solution may be the most profitable, the most affordable, or the quickest to implement. Give a summary recommending the ideal solution.

You should also mention the potential obstacle while implementing your offered solution and how to address them. To illustrate your solution, you can use charts and graphs. Also, don’t forget to add any evidence whenever possible to support your claim.

Step 05: Financial Overview

The financial overview is for convincing the finance-associated people that your solution is worthy to implement. If finance is not your cup of tea, you can seek help from the finance team.

Make sure, you have included the following concerns while writing the financial overview:

  • Identify the financial implication for the project
  • Ensure the project is affordable
  • Assess value for money
  • Predict cash flow

The aim here is to convince your audience that your solution is worth the budget it requires.

Step 06: Implementation Timeline

Giving a proper implementation timeline helps to convince the management people or stakeholders that the project is worthy of investigation. This also indicates when you hope to complete the project.

So, you can consider giving a timeframe for each project stage and explaining what may happen in each phase. Once you can set a proper implementation timeline, you can guide your team to stay focused on the goal and priorities tasks.

Don’t forget to consider both the ideal timeline and the extra time you may need to address the potential problems you included in the recommended solution section. The less time your project will require, of course, the better. But first and foremost, be sure to keep your estimation realistic.

Key Takeaways

Business Case StepsPoints to Include
Executive SummaryShortly highlight the main points of your business case. Length should be 1 page or at max 2 page
Problem/Opportunity StatementShow stat, chart, and graph to explain why it’s a problem or opportunity
Problem/Opportunity AnalysisSmartly explain the problem within 1 page
Present the SWOT analysis of the problem
Show the similar problems that have already been solved or yet to solve
Precisely point out the risks that you may face
Present the PESTLE analysis
Choose a project development methodology
Offer SolutionList down several solutions for the problem and eventually, choose the best solution as per your requirements
Financial OverviewPresent your financial estimation with numbers
Implementation TimelineShow your time estimation for completing the project

A Sample Business Case Template for You to Take Inspiration from

Now you are supposed to know how a business case should be written. Then again, if you are looking for a business case template for inspiration to showcase your project, you don’t need to go somewhere else.

Here we have attached a project business case example so that you can prepare your template all by yourself. So, check this business case example and find out how you should proceed next.

An example of a business case template

You are free to change the order if you want, however, try to include all the key components that we have mentioned here. Because without these key components your business case will be incomplete.

3 Things to Remember While Presenting a Business Case

An illustration that describes a young man is teaching his colleague how a business case should be presented

Now you know how to write a business case. After writing your business case, you’re supposed to present it, right? Well, when you are going to present it, keep these 3 below-mentioned points in your consideration.

1. Clarity: In order to get the approval of your business case, your audience needs to know what exactly you are proposing and what benefits it will bring them. So make sure your language is simple and to the point. Keep an eye out for mistakes in diction and pronunciation. A perfectly spelled but poor word selection can make your audience more confused than a misspelled word.

2. Tone: Tone decides how your audience will perceive your proposal. Try to avoid hesitant language like probably, I think, generally, most likely, and similar other phrases. Keep your tone confident especially when you are talking about budget estimation and the outcome of your proposal.

3. Engagement: You need to identify how your presentation could be more engaging. You should emphasize not only why this problem needs to be solved, but also why your proposal needs to be implemented sooner rather than later. Help your audience visualize the solution with infographics, charts, graphs, and so on.

How to Write a Business Case FAQ(s)

What are the main components of a business case?

These are the main components of a proper business case:

1. Executive Summary
2. Problem Statement
3. Problem Analysis
4. Recommended Solution
5. Financial Overview
6. Implementation Timeline

While writing a business case to showcase your preferred solution and to convince your stakeholders or the management people, you should include these 6 key components to make your business case more legitimate.

What is a simple business case?

A simple business case includes all the main components to demonstrate the risk and benefits to implement the project, a budget to decide if it’s worthy of implementation or not, and a timeline to give an idea of when it should be finished.

The main aim of a simple business case is to convince your audience (stakeholders or management) that you’re offering a legitimate solution and that the company should jump into it to extract benefits in the coming future.

Who writes a business case?

Program management often develops detailed Business Cases, but many organizations delegate this work to the Project Manager or a business analyst. 

Why do business cases fail?

A business case fails due to several reasons. Some of the key reasons are:

1. Complexity
2. Too many assumptions
3. Offering only one solution
4. Misunderstanding the problem
5. Lack of presentation skill

Is a business case always needed?

All the projects must have a business case unless you run a very small company with 1-10 people. The business case is needed when resources or expenditure on a project has to be justified.

Turn Your Business Case into an Actionable Plan

Writing a business case is crucial, it doesn’t matter if you are planning for a simple or complex project. If you can plan it properly, the possibility of success ratios like finishing it within the allocated budget and time becomes high.

Also, if you can present it smartly, your stakeholders will get the confidence to invest in your project. For doing that you should follow the tips that we have shared here. So, get started with your business case now and make it an actionable plan by getting approval from the authority.

Having said that if you have any observations, queries, or suggestions regarding this blog, you can let us know in the comment box below. We would love to hear you. Thank you!

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