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Google Sheets vs Excel: Which Template Tool Works Best for Your Business?
In today’s digital age, businesses rely heavily on spreadsheets to manage data, analyze trends, and make informed decisions. Two popular spreadsheet tools that come to mind are Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. Both offer a wide range of features and functionalities, but when it comes to using templates, which tool works best for your business needs? In this article, we will compare Google Sheets and Excel in terms of their template offerings, ease of use, collaboration capabilities, and overall suitability for different types of businesses.
When it comes to templates, Google Sheets and Excel both provide a vast selection to choose from. Google Sheets offers a variety of pre-designed templates that cater to various business needs such as budgeting, project management, sales tracking, and more. These templates are readily available within the application itself or can be accessed through the Google Sheets template gallery.
Excel also offers an extensive collection of templates that cover a wide range of industries and purposes. From financial planning to inventory management and even employee scheduling – Excel has it all. These templates can be found within the application itself or downloaded from the Microsoft Office template library.
Ease of Use
Google Sheets is known for its user-friendly interface and intuitive design. It is accessible via any web browser without the need for installation or software updates. With its simple layout and familiar functions similar to other Google products like Docs or Slides, users can quickly adapt to using it.
On the other hand, Excel has been around for decades and has become synonymous with spreadsheet software. While it offers more advanced features compared to Google Sheets, some users may find its interface overwhelming at first glance. However, once you get the hang of it, Excel provides immense flexibility in terms of customization options.
One area where Google Sheets excels is collaboration. With its cloud-based nature, multiple team members can work on the same spreadsheet simultaneously, making real-time updates and edits. Users can also leave comments, tag team members, and view revision history. This level of collaboration is especially beneficial for businesses with remote teams or those that require frequent collaboration.
Excel, on the other hand, has traditionally been a desktop application, which limits its collaborative capabilities. While recent versions of Excel have introduced cloud-based features like co-authoring and sharing through OneDrive or SharePoint, it still falls short compared to Google Sheets’ seamless collaboration experience.
Suitability for Different Types of Businesses
Google Sheets is a great option for small to medium-sized businesses or startups that prioritize collaboration and ease of use. Its affordability (often free for basic features) and accessibility make it an attractive choice for businesses looking to streamline their processes without breaking the bank.
Excel, on the other hand, is widely used by larger enterprises or businesses that require more advanced functionalities such as complex calculations or data analysis. It offers powerful tools like PivotTables, macros, and extensive formula capabilities that are essential for industries like finance or engineering.
In conclusion, both Google Sheets and Excel offer a wide range of templates to suit various business needs. If your business values collaboration and simplicity in usage, Google Sheets may be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if your business requires more advanced features and customization options, Excel might be better suited for your needs. Ultimately, it comes down to understanding your business requirements and choosing the tool that aligns best with them.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)
Table of Contents
What is a business case, how to write a business case, business case template, watch our business case training video, key elements of a business case, how projectmanager helps with your business case.
A business case is a project management document that explains how the benefits of a project overweigh its costs and why it should be executed. Business cases are prepared during the project initiation phase and their purpose is to include all the project’s objectives, costs and benefits to convince stakeholders of its value.
A business case is an important project document to prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the project proposal you’re pitching is a sound investment. Below, we illustrate the steps to writing one that will sway them.
The need for a business case is that it collects the financial appraisal, proposal, strategy and marketing plan in one document and offers a full look at how the project will benefit the organization. Once your business case is approved by the project stakeholders, you can begin the project planning phase.
Projects fail without having a solid business case to rest on, as this project document is the base for the project charter and project plan. But if a project business case is not anchored to reality, and doesn’t address a need that aligns with the larger business objectives of the organization, then it is irrelevant.
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Use this free Business Case Template for Word to manage your projects better.
The research you’ll need to create a strong business case is the why, what, how and who of your project. This must be clearly communicated. The elements of your business case will address the why but in greater detail. Think of the business case as a document that is created during the project initiation phase but will be used as a reference throughout the project life cycle.
Whether you’re starting a new project or mid-way through one, take time to write up a business case to justify the project expenditure by identifying the business benefits your project will deliver and that your stakeholders are most interested in reaping from the work. The following four steps will show you how to write a business case.
Step 1: Identify the Business Problem
Projects aren’t created for projects’ sake. They should always be aligned with business goals . Usually, they’re initiated to solve a specific business problem or create a business opportunity.
You should “Lead with the need.” Your first job is to figure out what that problem or opportunity is, describe it, find out where it comes from and then address the time frame needed to deal with it.
This can be a simple statement but is best articulated with some research into the economic climate and the competitive landscape to justify the timing of the project.
Step 2: Identify the Alternative Solutions
How do you know whether the project you’re undertaking is the best possible solution to the problem defined above? Naturally, prioritizing projects is hard, and the path to success is not paved with unfounded assumptions.
One way to narrow down the focus to make the right solution clear is to follow these six steps (after the relevant research, of course):
- Note the alternative solutions.
- For each solution, quantify its benefits.
- Also, forecast the costs involved in each solution.
- Then figure out its feasibility .
- Discern the risks and issues associated with each solution.
- Finally, document all this in your business case.
Step 3: Recommend a Preferred Solution
You’ll next need to rank the solutions, but before doing that it’s best to set up criteria, maybe have a scoring mechanism such as a decision matrix to help you prioritize the solutions to best choose the right one.
Some methodologies you can apply include:
- Depending on the solution’s cost and benefit , give it a score of 1-10.
- Base your score on what’s important to you.
- Add more complexity to your ranking to cover all bases.
Regardless of your approach, once you’ve added up your numbers, the best solution to your problem will become evident. Again, you’ll want to have this process also documented in your business case.
Step 4: Describe the Implementation Approach
So, you’ve identified your business problem or opportunity and how to reach it, now you have to convince your stakeholders that you’re right and have the best way to implement a process to achieve your goals. That’s why documentation is so important; it offers a practical path to solve the core problem you identified.
Now, it’s not just an exercise to appease senior leadership. Who knows what you might uncover in the research you put into exploring the underlying problem and determining alternative solutions? You might save the organization millions with an alternate solution than the one initially proposed. When you put in the work on a strong business case, you’re able to get your sponsors or organizational leadership on board with you and have a clear vision as to how to ensure the delivery of the business benefits they expect.
Our business case template for Word is the perfect tool to start writing a business case. It has 9 key business case areas you can customize as needed. Download the template for free and follow the steps below to create a great business case for all your projects.
One of the key steps to starting a business case is to have a business case checklist. The following is a detailed outline to follow when developing your business case. You can choose which of these elements are the most relevant to your project stakeholders and add them to our business case template. Then once your business case is approved, start managing your projects with a robust project management software such as ProjectManager.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is a short version of each section of your business case. It’s used to give stakeholders a quick overview of your project.
2. Project Definition
This section is meant to provide general information about your projects, such as the business objectives that will be achieved and the project plan outline.
3. Vision, Goals and Objectives
First, you have to figure out what you’re trying to do and what is the problem you want to solve. You’ll need to define your project vision, goals and objectives. This will help you shape your project scope and identify project deliverables.
4. Project Scope
The project scope determines all the tasks and deliverables that will be executed in your project to reach your business objectives.
5. Background Information
Here you can provide a context for your project, explaining the problem that it’s meant to solve, and how it aligns with your organization’s vision and strategic plan.
6. Success Criteria and Stakeholder Requirements
Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, the quality requirements will differ, but they are critical to the project’s success. Collect all of them, figure out what determines if you’ve successfully met them and report on the results .
7. Project Plan
It’s time to create the project plan. Figure out the tasks you’ll have to take to get the project done. You can use a work breakdown structure template to make sure you are through. Once you have all the tasks collected, estimate how long it will take to complete each one.
Project management software makes creating a project plan significantly easier. ProjectManager can upload your work breakdown structure template and all your tasks are populated in our tool. You can organize them according to your production cycle with our kanban board view, or use our Gantt chart view to create a project schedule.
8. Project Budget
Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.
9. Project Schedule
Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed. For a more impactful project schedule , use a tool to make a Gantt chart, and print it out. This will provide that extra flourish of data visualization and skill that Excel sheets lack.
10. Project Governance
Project governance refers to all the project management rules and procedures that apply to your project. For example, it defines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members and the framework for decision-making.
11. Communication Plan
Have milestones for check-ins and status updates, as well as determine how stakeholders will stay aware of the progress over the project life cycle.
12. Progress Reports
Have a plan in place to monitor and track your progress during the project to compare planned to actual progress. There are project tracking tools that can help you monitor progress and performance.
Again, using a project management tool improves your ability to see what’s happening in your project. ProjectManager has tracking tools like dashboards and status reports that give you a high-level view and more detail, respectively. Unlike light-weight apps that make you set up a dashboard, ours is embedded in the tool. Better still, our cloud-based software gives you real-time data for more insightful decision-making. Also, get reports on more than just status updates, but timesheets, workload, portfolio status and much more, all with just one click. Then filter the reports and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.
13. Financial Appraisal
This is a very important section of your business case because this is where you explain how the financial benefits outweigh the project costs . Compare the financial costs and benefits of your project. You can do this by doing a sensitivity analysis and a cost-benefit analysis.
14. Market Assessment
Research your market, competitors and industry, to find opportunities and threats
15. Competitor Analysis
Identify direct and indirect competitors and do an assessment of their products, strengths, competitive advantages and their business strategy.
16. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis helps you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while the opportunities and threats are external.
17. Marketing Strategy
Describe your product, distribution channels, pricing, target customers among other aspects of your marketing plan or strategy.
18. Risk Assessment
There are many risk categories that can impact your project. The first step to mitigating them is to identify and analyze the risks associated with your project activities.
ProjectManager , an award-winning project management software, can collect and assemble all the various data you’ll be collecting, and then easily share it both with your team and project sponsors.
Once you have a spreadsheet with all your tasks listed, you can import it into our software. Then it’s instantly populated into a Gantt chart . Simply set the duration for each of the tasks, add any dependencies, and your project is now spread across a timeline. You can set milestones, but there is so much more you can do.
You have a project plan now, and from the online Gantt chart, you can assign team members to tasks. Then they can comment directly on the tasks they’re working on, adding as many documents and images as needed, fostering a collaborative environment. You can track their progress and change task durations as needed by dragging and dropping the start and end dates.
But that’s only a taste of what ProjectManager offers. We have kanban boards that visualize your workflow and a real-time dashboard that tracks six project metrics for the most accurate view of your project possible.
Try ProjectManager and see for yourself with this 30-day free trial .
If you want more business case advice, take a moment to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, in this short training video. She explains the steps you have to take in order to write a good business case.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference.
Today we’re talking about how to write a business case. Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen the market, or maybe organizations, companies or even projects, move away from doing business cases. But, these days, companies, organizations, and those same projects are scrutinizing the investments and they’re really seeking a rate of return.
So now, think of the business case as your opportunity to package your project, your idea, your opportunity, and show what it means and what the benefits are and how other people can benefit.
We want to take a look today to see what’s in the business case and how to write one. I want to be clear that when you look for information on a business case, it’s not a briefcase.
Someone called the other day and they were confused because they were looking for something, and they kept pulling up briefcases. That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about are business cases, and they include information about your strategies, about your goals. It is your business proposal. It has your business outline, your business strategy, and even your marketing plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Case?
And so, why is that so important today? Again, companies are seeking not only their project managers but their team members to have a better understanding of business and more of an idea business acumen. So this business case provides the justification for the proposed business change or plan. It outlines the allocation of capital that you may be seeking and the resources required to implement it. Then, it can be an action plan . It may just serve as a unified vision. And then it also provides the decision-makers with different options.
So let’s look more at the steps required to put these business cases together. There are four main steps. One, you want to research your market. Really look at what’s out there, where are the needs, where are the gaps that you can serve? Look at your competition. How are they approaching this, and how can you maybe provide some other alternatives?
You want to compare and finalize different approaches that you can use to go to market. Then you compile that data and you present strategies, your goals and other options to be considered.
And then you literally document it.
So what does the document look like? Well, there are templates out there today. The components vary, but these are the common ones. And then these are what I consider essential. So there’s the executive summary. This is just a summary of your company, what your management team may look like, a summary of your product and service and your market.
The business description gives a little bit more history about your company and the mission statement and really what your company is about and how this product or service fits in.
Then, you outline the details of the product or service that you’re looking to either expand or roll out or implement. You may even include in their patents may be that you have pending or other trademarks.
Then, you want to identify and lay out your marketing strategy. Like, how are you gonna take this to your customers? Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar store? Are you gonna do this online? And, what are your plans to take it to market?
You also want to include detailed information about your competitor analysis. How are they doing things? And, how are you planning on, I guess, beating your competition?
You also want to look at and identify your SWOT. And the SWOT is your strength. What are the strengths that you have in going to market? And where are the weaknesses? Maybe some of your gaps. And further, where are your opportunities and maybe threats that you need to plan for? Then the overview of the operation includes operational information like your production, even human resources, information about the day-to-day operations of your company.
And then, your financial plan includes your profit statement, your profit and loss, any of your financials, any collateral that you may have, and any kind of investments that you may be seeking.
So these are the components of your business case. This is why it’s so important. And if you need a tool that can help you manage and track this process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager .
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A comprehensive business case template encapsulates:
- Strategic justifications for the project.
- Evaluated business options, including fundamental choices like "do nothing," "alter something," or "try another approach."
- Both project and operational costs and timelines.
- Tangible benefits.
- Investment assessment or cost-benefit analysis.
- Potential risks and their countermeasures.
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Business Case Template
Impress stakeholders and get buy-in with this complete Business Case Template. Cover all key elements of a business case and ensure your pitch is successful.
Trusted by 65M+ users and leading companies
About the Business Case Template
Steve Lydford , director at Codurance, developed this business case template to enable teams to visualize all the key components of a business case. When advocating for a project or getting stakeholder buy-in, developing a business case that is well articulated and compelling will increase your chances of getting funding and sponsorship.
This business case template is similar to the Business Model Canvas , except it focuses on the business problem and the tactics to solve it. It also shows how to implement your business plan, covering nine key areas.
How to use the business case template
Select the business case template and add it to your board. Once you have the template in place, fulfill each section of the frame, answering the questions for each. The structure of your business case canvas will look like this:
Problem: Identify the core issue your business aims to solve. Be specific and use data to back your claims. This section is your starting point and sets the context for your business case.
Solution: Describe your proposed solution to the identified problem. Ensure it is clear, feasible, and directly addresses the problem you've outlined.
Benefits: Outline the advantages your solution offers. Include both quantitative and qualitative benefits, such as cost savings, efficiency improvements, or customer satisfaction.
Scope: Define the boundaries of your business case. Specify what is included and, importantly, what is not. This clarity will help manage expectations and focus your plan.
Stakeholders: List key people or groups involved or affected by your business case. Understand their interests and how your plan impacts them.
Resources: Detail the resources required for your business case, including human, financial, and technical resources. Be realistic about what's needed to achieve your goals.
Risks: Identify potential challenges and risks associated with your business case. This foresight helps in developing mitigation strategies.
Costs: Provide a clear breakdown of the costs involved in your business case. Transparency here is crucial for gaining trust and approval.
Metrics: Establish metrics to measure the success of your business case. These could be financial metrics, customer satisfaction scores, or other relevant KPIs.
Lead a workshop with your team to map out all these aspects of your business plan. If needed, make more than one business case canvas.
Color-code stickies with common topics that are connected.
If needed, leave comments and other stickies to clarify topics.
Why should you use a business case template?
Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey requires you to pitch your ideas to investors and gain support from others. The business case template provides a detailed analysis of your business and presents the core of your product or service in a clear and concise manner. This format is easy to read and helps stakeholders make informed decisions.
In addition, this template can serve as a visual aid in any presentation or pitch deck you create. It clarifies your business's main objectives and the strategies to achieve them. The business case analysis template can also serve as documentation for your team to refer to once things are up and running.
The purpose of the business case analysis template is to ensure that you have everything in place to establish your business. It also serves as a guide for managers and stakeholders to navigate through the entire business idea. Unlike the traditional business model canvas, which focuses on the strategic and tactical side of the business, the business case canvas is more about the core of the business and the benefits it will bring to the market and customers.
Do I need to make any changes to the template for each individual business case, or can I use it as it is?
While the template can be used as a starting point, it is important to customize it for each business case to ensure that it addresses the unique aspects of the proposed initiative.
Is it possible to add additional sections or information to the template if required?
Yes, you can add sections or information as necessary to meet the specific requirements of your business case. The template is a flexible tool that can be adapted to fit your needs.
Who is the intended audience for the business case template?
The primary audience includes senior management, decision-makers, and stakeholders who need to evaluate, approve, or reject the proposed initiative.
Get started with this template right now.
Value Chain Template
Works best for:.
Leadership, Strategic Planning, Workflows
First coined by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, the value chain analysis helps your team evaluate your business activities so you can find ways to improve your competitive advantage. A value chain is a set of activities that a company performs in order to deliver a valuable product from start to finish. The analysis itself allows your team to visualize all the business activities involved in creating the product—and helps you identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and miscommunication within the process.
Lean Canvas Template
Agile Methodology, Strategic Planning, Agile Workflows
Business opportunities can get dense, cumbersome, and complex, and evaluating them can be a real challenge. Let a lean canvas streamline things and break down your business idea for you and your team. A great tool or entrepreneurs and emerging businesses, this one-page business model gives you an easy, high-level view of your idea — so you can stay focused on overall strategy, identify potential threats and opportunities, and brainstorm the various factors at play in determining your potential profitability in an industry.
App Development Canvas Template
Market Research, Product Management, User Experience
Ever noticed that building a successful app requires lots of players and moving parts? If you’re a project manager, you definitely have. Lucky for you, an app development canvas will let you own and optimize the entire process. It features 18 boxes, each one focusing on a key aspect of app development, giving you a big-picture view. That way you can fine-tune processes and get ahead of potential problems along the way—resulting in a smoother path and a better, tighter product.
Stakeholder Analysis Template
Project Management, Strategic Planning, Project Planning
Managing stakeholders is integral to completing a project on time and meeting expectations, so here’s how to use a stakeholder analysis to help. A stakeholder analysis empowers you to meet expectations and complete projects on time by identifying individuals, groups, and organizations with a vested interest in a program or process. In a typical stakeholder analysis, you’ll prioritize stakeholders based on their influence on a project and seek to understand how best to interface with them throughout the course of the project.
SWOT Analysis Template
Decision Making, Strategic Planning, Prioritization
When you’re developing a business strategy, it can be hard to figure out what to focus on. A SWOT analysis helps you hone in on key factors. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, like your employees, intellectual property, marketing strategy, and location. Opportunities and threats are usually external factors, like market fluctuations, competition, prices of raw materials, and consumer trends. Conduct a SWOT analysis whenever you want to explore opportunities for new businesses and products, decide the best way to launch a product, unlock your company’s potential, or use your strengths to develop opportunities.
Business Plan Template
Strategy & Planning
The Business Plan Template not only streamlines the complex task of crafting a business plan but also enhances collaboration and creativity. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, Miro's Business Plan Template offers a practical, comprehensive solution to turn your business ideas into actionable strategies.
How to Write a Good Software Business Case [+ Template]
Do you think your company needs to invest in new software? In this post, you'll learn how to write a good software business case. Free template included.
You can always improve your processes. And as your scale-up grows, optimizing different workflows becomes a top necessity. Luckily, this need can be easily addressed through the right software.
However, adopting new tools may require a significant financial investment. So, before you can implement new tools, you may need to get some expenses approved by upper management.
Making a software solution appealing to top leadership can be challenging. Here’s where software business cases can be truly helpful. And today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about them.
If you’re a manager and want to convince your team and supervisors to invest in a new SaaS tool, this post is for you.
- What a business case is
- Why business cases make a difference
- How to compare different software solutions for a business case
- A step-by-step guide to writing a good business case for your software purchase proposal
- A software business case template
Ready? Let’s get started.
What Is a Business Case?
You may already know what a business case is. But let's go over a definition to make sure we’re on the same page.
A business case is a key deliverable that upper management reviews before approving and funding any project or purchase.
Business cases provide detailed and well-structured information about:
- The business problem you’re trying to solve
- The positive impact the proposed solution will have on the company
- How those benefits will be achieved
- Risks associated with not solving the problem
- Estimated costs
- Team members involved
- Scope/impacted team
- How long it will take to solve the problem
Once the business case is approved, it should serve as a formal agreement regarding budget, resource allocation, and solution scope.
But why are software business cases so important? Why wouldn't you give your manager an elevator pitch of the tool you want to acquire, instead of producing documentation?
Why Business Cases Make a Difference
Business cases provide an excellent opportunity for you to engage key stakeholders and win collective buy-in for your software proposal.
In fact, a strong software business case will:
- Explain why the potential investment is strategically reasonable
- Give context regarding the challenges, goals, and potential alternatives informing the proposal
- Justify the potential investment based on common goals rather than personal preferences
- Keep stakeholders aligned and motivated throughout the tool’s adoption process
- Serve as a solid foundation for justifying the software investment in the long run
- Add a paper trail to the budget approval process
But, what if you don’t submit a business case? You could just send an email to stakeholders introducing the tool and going over its costs. But this type of proposal:
- May not be taken seriously or prioritized
- Relies on stakeholders having the exact same information and short-term incentives as you, which is unlikely
- May fail to keep stakeholders motivated during the tool’s adoption process, which can hurt adoption
How to Compare Different Software Solutions
One of the key components of a powerful proposal for software purchase is a comparison between different options. Even if there’s an option you’re sure you want to go for, adding some alternatives can enrich the conversation significantly.
To contrast and evaluate multiple software solutions, we advise you to:
- Read software reviews
- Make the most out of free trials
- Schedule a product demo
Read Software Reviews
This may be the oldest trick in the book, but it surely works. You can look for tool reviews online and ask for your colleagues’ opinions.
Wondering how to find actually useful content on Google, instead of just product ads? Here are some search queries you can use:
- “[Tool] pros and cons”
- “Why we stopped using [Tool]”
- “[Tool] alternatives for [type of team/user]”
For more efficient research, create a list of essential, non-negotiable features. If a tool doesn’t include these functionalities, don’t consider it as an alternative.
Get a Free Trial
Many SaaS tools offer free trial periods, so users can have the chance to discover their interface and capabilities. Use free trials to gain a deeper understanding of how the tool operates and how it can potentially benefit your organization.
Trial periods can last anywhere between 7 to 30 days. What’s more, some companies give users a chance to extend their trial and continue exploring their product for a few extra days.
Schedule Product Demos
Some tools don’t offer trial periods. Instead, they provide live product demos. During a demo, you can ask questions, and learn whether the tool is a good fit for your needs.
How to Write a Good Software Business Case
You’ve identified a challenge and found a software solution that could help you address it. It could be a project management tool like Jira , accounting software , or even integrating new technology like artificial intelligence into your workflow.
Regardless of the specifics, some team members might be reluctant to adopt new software. And the reason is quite simple: a new tool comes with risks and expenses. And we’re not just talking about the cost of a monthly subscription.
A new tool requires a training period and forces team members to rethink their workflows. So, even if the tool’s long-term impact will be positive, you’ll probably encounter some friction early on. But including a good business case in your proposal for software purchase can help you navigate these challenges.
To write a good software business case, you should:
- Gather key information
- Provide a breakdown of the costs
- Get stakeholders involved
Let’s take a closer look at each step, shall we?
1. Gather Key Information for your Business Case
When upper management greenlights your proposed investment, they won’t just be agreeing to a new monthly or annual cost, they’ll also agree to operational changes. So upper management needs to be sure that you considered all the pros and cons of this new solution. The more specific, the better.
Hence, we advise you that your business case includes:
- An executive summary
- Pain points and testimonials
- Solution description & scope
- Cost and resources overview
- Timing of execution & milestones
- Tool governance & dependencies
- Benefits of the new software solution
Let’s take a closer look.
To give upper management an overview of what they can expect, it’s a good idea to start your business case with a summary. You should write this section after you’ve already completed the entire proposal. So, although this is the first thing your managers will see, you should leave it for last.
Your executive summary should mention:
- The business problems the new software will solve and its key features
- Why this software solution is necessary now
- Changes in rules or regulations that may require this investment (if any)
- How the tool will lead to cost savings or revenue enhancement
It’s important to note that rather than focusing on a specific software tool, your summary should focus on the business problem and the solution. Remember that your primary objective is to address the problem at hand, rather than merely purchasing software.
However, remember to clearly state in your summary that you want to buy new software. Sometimes, as you work and rework this section’s wording, it can become ambiguous.
Pain Points and Testimonials
Explain the affected team’s current workflow and software stack. Then, outline the pain points and challenges they’re encountering. In fact, you can recruit coworkers and ask them to share some real-life examples.
Their testimonials will:
- Strengthen your case
- Show how serious the issue is
- Explain its likely consequences
This way, stakeholders will be able to understand why it’s important to act quickly. If the current challenge involves dealing with old technology, direct users are great candidates. Meanwhile, if the challenge is more focused on processes, employees responsible for that task will be a good fit.
Last but not least, don’t forget to connect with the managers of the teams that are dealing with these challenges. They will surely provide valuable insights.
Solution Description & Scope
Now that you’ve described the challenges you’re trying to solve, it’s time to describe how this new software can address them.
Remember to outline:
- The scope of the solution, its capabilities, and limitations
- The requirements the tool should meet to support your team's needs
- Roles and teams involved
- What makes this software solution the best option
- Why you wouldn’t suggest developing a custom solution in-house or hiring an external software development firm
Moreover, you might mention what makes this software solution stand out from alternatives.
Additionally, you can include success stories and case studies from other companies in your industry.
Costs & Resources Overview
Don’t forget to include:
- Implementation cost
- Total cost ownership (TCO)
- Return on investment (ROI)
This aspect of your proposal will require some extra attention. So, we’ll cover it further in the next step.
Additionally, it’s important to outline the resources that you’re depending on but don’t imply a cash outlay.
- IT Hardware & equipment
- Server storage space
- Team members
Indicate which of these resources you’ll need, as well as where you expect them to come from. Moreover, state your assumptions regarding the available resources as well. For instance, you may assume that the storage capacity already available will be enough for the new software.
Analyze the critical risks associated with the project.
- How you plan to mitigate, reduce or even eliminate those risks
- The implications of not taking preventive measures
- Each risk's probability of occurring
- The circumstances in which you would be unable to reduce the risk effectively
Execution Timing & Milestones
Provide a timeline for the implementation of the software solution, especially if the company must meet a certain deadline. The steps you take will depend on where you are in the tool selection process. So make sure you know when and how they will be taken.
Additionally, you could also include:
- The impact of starting or delaying adoption by a certain date
- Major milestones, like kickoff meetings, training dates, and more
- Meeting schedules, status reports, and demos
Dependencies & Governance
Include the name of each person who will be involved and their role.
Plus, specify if your team needs support from another team to complete adoption. In other words, don’t forget to mention any project dependencies.
Summary of the Software Benefits
Wrap up your business case with an overview of the benefits the new software will bring to your company.
Some of the expected benefits and gains that you can highlight include:
- Time and money saved
- Increased collaboration
- Productivity boost
- Improved risk management protocols
- Higher task efficiency
It’s fair to note that this section must be mainly focused on the business benefits rather than technical benefits.
2. Provide a Breakdown of the Costs & ROI
Explaining the costs associated with an investment is every bit as important as explaining why the investment makes sense.
Typically requested costs include:
- Total implementation costs
- Total cost of ownership (TCO)
Additionally, you should do your best to calculate the investment’s ROI.
Total Implementation Costs
To calculate the total implementation cost, you need to take adoption costs into account.
Your total implementation costs may include:
- The price of your initial subscription
- The cost of the hours you’ll spend training your team to use this tool
- Any additional costs related to transitioning out of current software
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) often serves as the basis for calculating the return on investment (ROI) and comparing vendor prices. Finding the TCO involves:
- Calculating the upfront costs of each software solution
- Estimating the net present value (NPV) of recurring costs over the tool's expected lifespan
- Totaling the upfront costs and future costs' NPV
Many businesses tend to only consider the onset expenses associated with new software when analyzing vendors and potential risks. However, there are numerous variables that must be taken into account when determining the TCO.
Commonly, these variables include:
- Renewal fees
- Module additions, if necessary
- Any integrations that may require third-party tools such as Zapier
- Data migration costs
- Server maintenance, in case the tool is self-hosted
Return on Investment (ROI)
It’s no news that ROI can be challenging to measure and even more difficult to guarantee. Plus, no one knows with 100% accuracy how the business and the industry will change in the future. Hence, as time goes by, you may need to expand the functionality of a tool or add integrations, which can lead to increased costs.
Nevertheless, your managers will still expect you to put your best effort into calculating these benefits and cost projections.
3. Get Stakeholders Involved
There’s no need to write a business case on your own. In fact, involving relevant colleagues and decision-makers will provide you with valuable insights and help you develop a thoughtful solution.
- Communicating with department leaders
- Getting all contributors on the same page before submitting the software purchase proposal
- Starting the conversation with upper management before sending the proposal
Communicate with department leaders
Before submitting your software business case, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the teams that will be affected by the investment. Identify internal advocates and ask them for their help. With their help, you’ll be able to identify blind spots in your proposal, offer alternative solutions, and validate your perspective.
Don’t forget to include the names of your contributors on your software proposal. That way, you’ll let upper management know that you’re not representing your individual preferences, but a team’s needs.
Get all contributors on the same page
Prior to submitting your software business case, make sure everyone whose feedback you received and who is named in the final document gives their approval. Nobody likes to see their name on a document without their consent. So make sure everyone reviews it before submitting it to upper management.
Talk to upper management before submitting your proposal
Your in-depth proposal may be great for contextualizing and explaining the software investment you'd like to make. But if you send it to upper management out of the blue, it may be deprioritized or get lost in a sea of emails.
So, before sending your proposal for software purchase, make sure upper management is expecting it. Talk to leadership, find internal advocates, and use the proposal to move that conversation forward.
Additionally, connecting with upper management before developing the proposal will help you consider their point of view and anticipate frictions.
Get Control Over Your Software With Cledara
There are numerous aspects to contemplate when investing in new software. Software business cases make for a goal-oriented, collective, and transparent software buying process. But remember, the key to a strong business case is to focus on solving the challenge, not on the software purchase itself.
The right tools can make a huge difference in your scaleup’s everyday operations. But, before getting a new solution, there’s something worth asking: Are you managing your existing software subscriptions?
If left unmonitored, SaaS expenses can easily pile up, leading to:
- Tool redundancy
- Untrackable and unstandardized workflows
Here’s where Cledara can help.
With Cledara, you will:
- Have a centralized view of all your software subscriptions
- Identify which tools bring value to your company
- Easily unsubscribe from unused or redundant tools
- Make sure you know which tools each team member is using
- Streamline employee onboarding and offboarding processes
- Get 2% cash back on every software subscription
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Free Project Management Templates
Business Case Template
A Good Business Case captures and documents the reasoning for starting a new project. Our free Business Case Template provides a sound foundation for developing the business case for your next project.
A Business Case helps to determine whether or not a project justifies an organizations investment into a project. The Business Case defines the problem and its impact and performs a Cost Benefit Analysis for the proposed solution. It also looks at possible alternative solutions. Often overlooked, the Business Case checks to see that the project aligns with the organization’s strategic plans.
1. executive summary.
This Business Case Template provides you with a good starting point for which to develop your project/organization specific Business Case. You can download the MS Word version of this template by clicking on the Word icon above.
This section should provide general information on the issues surrounding the business problem and the proposed project or initiative created to address it. Usually, this section is completed last after all other sections of the business case have been written. This is because the executive summary is exactly that, a summary of the detail that is provided in subsequent sections of the document.
This business case outlines how the Web Platform (WP) Project will address current business concerns, the benefits of the project, and recommendations and justification of the project. The business case also discusses detailed project goals, performance measures, assumptions, constraints, and alternative options.
This section of the business case should briefly describe the business problem that the proposed project will address. This section should not describe how the problem will be addressed, only what the problem is.
Because of an expanding client base, Smith Consulting has moved to a de-centralized business model over the last 2 years. As we continue to support more clients in more locations, the administration of our workforce has become more difficult. Until now, many of our internal requirements such as reporting, payroll activities, and resource management have been done via legacy mainframe systems. As our workforce expands in numbers and area, these legacy mainframe systems have become inadequate to effectively manage these administrative activities. This inadequacy is manifested in higher costs and increased employee turnover which we have seen over the last 12 months. In order to more effectively manage our administration, reduce costs, and improve employee turnover, Smith Consulting must move to a web-based application as outlined in this business case for the WP Project. By doing so, employees will assume a greater role in managing their administrative issues, have access to timesheets securely online, and the company can manage its administration from one central and common platform.
1.2 Anticipated Outcomes
This section should describe the anticipated outcome if the proposed project or initiative is implemented. It should include how the project will benefit the business and describe what the end state of the project should be.
Moving to a centralized web-based administrative platform will enable Smith Consulting to manage its employee payroll systems and administrative functions in a seamless and consolidated manner. This technology migration will reduce overhead costs associated with the large workforce currently required to manage these tasks. De-centralized employees will have more autonomy to manage their payroll elections, training, reporting, and various other administrative tasks. The company will also benefit from more timely and accurate financial reporting as a result of our regional managers’ ability to enter and continuously update their financial metrics. This real time access reduces errors, improves cycle time, and is readily available to any authorized user.
This section of our business case template summarizes the approach for how the project will address the business problem. This section should also describe how desirable results will be achieved by moving forward with the project.
Various options and alternatives were analyzed to determine the best way to leverage technology to improve the business processes and reduce the overhead costs within Smith Consulting. The approach described herein allows us to meet our corporate objectives of continuously improving efficiency, reducing costs, and capitalizing on technology. The recommended WP Project will methodically migrate the data and functions of our current mainframe system to our new web-based platform in order to preserve data integrity and allow adequate time to train all employees and managers on their responsibilities and respective administrative functions. The web-based platform is compatible with all other current IT systems and will improve the efficiency and accuracy of reporting throughout the company. Some of the ways that this technology will achieve its desired results are:
- Employees will be able to enter and edit their timesheet data at any time from any location instead of phoning their data to their regional manager for entry into the mainframe system
- Timesheet and payroll data will be immediately accessible for quality control and reporting purposes which will reduce the need for staff in non-billable positions to gather, analyze and compile data
- Employees will have the ability to register for training which reduces the burden on managers and training staff
This section justifies why the recommended project should be implemented and why it was selected over other alternatives. Where applicable, quantitative support should be provided and the impact of not implementing the project should also be stated.
The migration of payroll and other administrative functions from the legacy mainframe system to the web-based platform will result in greater efficiency with regards to company resources and business processes. The WP Project is also aligned with corporate strategy and objectives since it uses technology to improve the way we do business. While other alternatives and the status quo were analyzed, the WP Project was selected for proposal in this business case because it provides the best opportunity to realize benefits in an expedited manner while also allowing for the greatest improvement in efficiency and cost reduction. Other alternatives assumed greater risk, provided less benefits, were too difficult to define, or were not suitably aligned with current corporate strategy and/or objectives.
Initial estimates for the WP Project are:
- 15% reduction in overhead costs in the first 12 months
- 10% decrease in employee turnover in the first 12 months
- 50% immediate decrease in time to generate weekly and monthly financial reports
- 25% immediate decrease in the amount of time it takes to resolve payroll issues
2. Business Case Analysis Team
This section of the business case template describes the roles of the team members who developed the business case. It is imperative that participants and roles are clearly defined for the business case as well as throughout the life of the project.
The following individuals comprise the business case analysis team. They are responsible for the analysis and creation of the WP Project business case.
3. Problem Definition
3.1 problem statement.
This section describes the business problem that this project was created to address. The problem may be process, technology, or product/service oriented. This section should not include any discussion related to the solution.
Since its inception, Smith Consulting has relied upon a mainframe system to manage payroll and other administrative employee functions. As the number of employees grows, so does the burden placed upon headquarters to effectively manage the company’s administration at acceptable levels. In the last two years Smith Consulting has hired 5 employees into overhead positions to help manage and run the day to day administration operations. These positions provide little or no return on investment as they are not billable positions and only maintain the status quo; they do nothing to improve the management of the company’s administration. Additionally, employees must currently call their regional managers to enter their work hours and raise any concerns regarding payroll and administrative tasks. This places a large burden on managers who much balance these requirements with their day to day billable tasks.
Reporting is another problem area associated with the legacy mainframe system. All weekly and monthly financial reports must be generated manually which allows for a high probability of error and require significant amounts of time. These manual tasks further add to the burden and expense of the company.
3.2 Organizational Impact
This section of our template describes how the proposed project will modify or affect the organizational processes, tools, hardware, and/or software. It should also explain any new roles which would be created or how existing roles may change as a result of the project.
The WP Project will impact Smith Consulting in several ways. The following provides a high-level explanation of how the organization, tools, processes, and roles and responsibilities will be affected as a result of the WP Project implementation:
Tools: the existing legacy administration platform will be phased out completely as the WP Project is stood up and becomes operational. This will require training employees on the WP tools and their use in support of other organizational tools.
Processes: with the WP Project comes more efficient and streamlined administrative and payroll processes. This improved efficiency will lessen the burden on managers and provide autonomy to employees in managing their administrative and payroll tasks and actions.
Roles and Responsibilities: in addition to the WP Project allowing greater autonomy to employees and less burden on managers, the manpower required to appropriately staff human resources and payroll departments will be reduced. While we greatly value our employees, the reduction of non-billable overhead positions will directly reflect in our bottom line and provide an immediate return on our investment. The new platform will be managed by the IT group and we do not anticipate any changes to IT staffing requirements.
Hardware/Software: in addition to the software and licensing for the project, Smith Consulting will be required to purchase additional servers to accommodate the platform and its anticipated growth for the next 10 years.
3.3 Technology Migration
This section of the Business Case Template provides a high-level overview of how the new technology will be implemented and how data from the legacy technology will be migrated. This section should also explain any outstanding technical requirements and obstacles which need to be addressed.
In order to effectively migrate existing data from our legacy platform to the new Web-based platform, a phased approach has been developed which will result in minimal/no disruption to day to day operations, administration, and payroll activities. The following is a high-level overview of the phased approach:
Phase I: Hardware/Software will be purchased and the WP system will be created in the web-based environment and tested by the IT development group.
Phase II: IT group will stand up a temporary legacy platform in the technology lab to be used for day to day operations for payroll and administration activities. This will be used as a backup system and also to archive all data from the company mainframe.
Phase III: The web-based platform will be populated with all current payroll and administrative data. This must be done in conjunction with the end of a pay cycle.
Phase IV: All employees will receive training on the new web-based platform.
Phase V: The web-based platform will go live and the legacy mainframe system will be archived and stood down.
4. Project Overview
This section describes high-level information about the project to include a description, goals and objectives, performance criteria, assumptions, constraints, and milestones. This section of the Business Case consolidates all project-specific information into one chapter and allows for an easy understanding of the project since the baseline business problem, impacts, and recommendations have already been established.
The WP Project overview provides detail for how this project will address Smith Consulting’s business problem. The overview consists of a project description, goals and objectives for the WP Project, project performance criteria, project assumptions, constraints, and major milestones. As the project is approved and moves forward, each of these components will be expanded to include a greater level of detail in working toward the project plan.
4.1 Project Description
This section describes the approach the project will use to address the business problem(s). This includes what the project will consist of, a general description of how it will be executed, and the purpose of it.
The WP Project will review and analyze several potential products to replace Smith Consulting’s legacy payroll and administration mainframe system with a web-based platform. This will be done by determining and selecting a product which adequately replaces our existing system and still allows for growth for the next 10 years. Once selected, the project will replace our existing system in a phased implementation approach and be completed once the new system is operational and the legacy system is archived and no longer in use.
This project will result in greater efficiency of day to day payroll and administrative operations and reporting, significantly lower overhead costs, and reduced turnover as a result of providing employees with greater autonomy and flexibility. Additionally, managers will once again be focused on billable tasks instead of utilizing a significant portion of their time on non-billable administrative tasks.
Smith Consulting will issue a Request for Information in order to determine which products are immediately available to meet our business needs. Once the product is acquired, all implementation and data population will be conducted with internal resources.
4.2 Goals and Objectives
This part of the template lists the business goals and objectives which are supported by the project and how the project will address them.
The WP Project directly supports several of the corporate goals and objectives established by Smith Consulting. The following table lists the business goals and objectives that the WP Project supports and how it supports them:
4.3 Project Performance
This section describes the measures that will be used to gauge the project’s performance and outcomes as they relate to key resources, processes, or services.
The following table lists the key resources, processes, or services and their anticipated business outcomes in measuring the performance of the project. These performance measures will be quantified and further defined in the detailed project plan.
4.4 Project Assumptions
This section lists the preliminary assumptions for the proposed project. As the project is selected and moves into detailed project planning, the list of assumptions will most likely grow as the project plan is developed. However, for the business case there should be at least a preliminary list from which to build.
The following assumptions apply to the WP Project. As project planning begins and more assumptions are identified, they will be added accordingly.
- All staff and employees will be trained accordingly in their respective data entry, timesheet, and reporting tasks on the new web-based system
- Funding is available for training
- Funding is available for purchasing hardware/software for web-based system
- All department heads will provide necessary support for successful project completion
- Project has executive-level support and backing
4.5 Project Constraints
This section of the business case template lists the preliminary constraints for the proposed project. As the project is selected and moves into detailed project planning, the list of constraints will most likely grow as the project plan is developed. However, for the business case there should be at least a preliminary list from which to build.
The following constraints apply to the WP Project. As project planning begins and more constraints are identified, they will be added accordingly.
- There are limited IT resources available to support the WP Project and other, ongoing, IT initiatives.
- There are a limited number of commercial off the shelf (COTS) products to support both payroll and administrative activities.
- As implementation will be done internally and not by the product developers or vendors, there will be limited support from the hardware/software providers.
4.6 Major Project Milestones
This section of our template lists the major project milestones and their target completion dates. Since this is the business case, these milestones and target dates are general and in no way final. It is important to note that as the project planning moves forward, a base-lined schedule including all milestones will be completed.
The following are the major project milestones identified at this time. As the project planning moves forward and the schedule is developed, the milestones and their target completion dates will be modified, adjusted, and finalized as necessary to establish the baseline schedule.
5. Strategic Alignment
All projects should support the organization’s strategy and strategic plans in order to add value and maintain executive and organizational support. This section of the business case template provides an overview of the organizational strategic plans that are related to the project. This includes the strategic plan, what the plan calls for, and how the project supports the strategic plan.
The WP Project is in direct support of several of Smith Consulting’s Strategic Plans. By directly supporting these strategic plans, this project will improve our business and help move the company forward to the next level of maturity.
6. Cost Benefit Analysis
Many consider this one of the most important parts of a business case as it is often the costs or savings a project yields which win final approval to go forward. It is important to quantify the financial benefits of the project as much as possible in the business case. This is usually done in the form of a cost benefit analysis. The purpose of this is to illustrate the costs of the project and compare them with the benefits and savings to determine if the project is worth pursuing.
The following table captures the cost and savings actions associated with the WP Project, descriptions of these actions, and the costs or savings associated with them through the first year. At the bottom of the chart is the net savings for the first year of the project.
Based on the cost benefit analysis above we see that by authorizing the WP Project, Smith Consulting will save $247,239.00 in the first year alone. This represents a significant improvement in our operating costs and is a clear indicator of the benefit this project will have on the company.
7. Alternative Analysis
All business problems may be addressed by any number of alternative projects. While the business case is the result of having selected one such option, a brief summary of considered alternatives should also be included—one of which should be the status quo, or doing nothing. The reasons for not selecting the alternatives should also be included.
The following alternative options have been considered to address the business problem. These alternatives were not selected for a number of reasons which are also explained below.
The business case is a document with which approval is granted or denied to move forward with the creation of a project. Therefore, the document should receive approval or disapproval from its executive review board
The signatures of the people below indicate an understanding in the purpose and content of this Business Case by those signing it. By signing this document you indicate that you approve of the proposed project outlined in this business case and that the next steps may be taken to create a formal project in accordance with the details outlined herein.
To download this business case template in MS Word format, click the Download Template link at the top of this page.
Free business case template and guide (with examples)
17 min read
August 24, 2023
Every organization has finite resources at its disposal, particularly when it comes to finances.
Even the most financially lucrative businesses can’t afford to simply bankroll every proposed project that comes their way – that’s where business cases come in.
Business cases help managers decide if company resources should be spent on a project or not. This way, they ensure that the limited funds they have are only awarded to the most lucrative projects. To this end, it’s the job of the project proposer to put forward their case in the best possible light. They need to convince the decision-makers that their project is one worth the investment of time, money, and resources.
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What is a business case?
A business case is an instrument used to justify a proposed project that requires some type of capital expenditure. It details the allocation of capital and resources to execute the project plan , as well as the benefits of initiating the project or task. Once the business case receives management approval, it’s maintained as a working document that will be used during and after the project management process.
A well-crafted business case identifies multiple options to address the needs or opportunities of an organization and provides critical data to enable informed decisions by executives.
Business cases can be a comprehensive analysis or a simple, informal presentation. In the following section, we’ll detail the elements of a more highly structured document.
Why you need a business case
Every organization has goals, needs, problems, and opportunities. You may need to solve specific problems, address certain needs, and exploit different opportunities. The solution may require a new initiative, the expansion of an existing operation, or the correction of poor execution. And as previously mentioned, every organization has finite resources, including a budget.
A business case identifies the reason for initiating a project or initiative, including its value, benefit, and the business problem it’s designed to solve. It’s designed to ensure that resources are prioritized for the operations and projects that most directly impact the corporation’s greatest priorities.
During this prioritization process, the key element is recognizing the projects that deliver the agreed-upon benefits.
PRINCE2™ is an internationally recognized project management methodology that supports the delivery of benefits. It identifies these key elements of a project:
- The output, which is any of the project’s technical deliverables (both tangible or intangible)
- The outcome, which is the result of the change derived from using the project’s deliverables
- The benefit, which is a measurable improvement resulting from an outcome that’s perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders
The purpose of a business case is to both outline the benefits of proposed projects and provide a means for continually assessing and evaluating the progress of the initiative. Therefore, it will become a living document to use before, during, and after the project.
Initially, the business case establishes the rationale for the project and details its benefits.
Throughout the execution, the business case measures the progress and overall environment of the initiative, in order to determine if course corrections are required. At the conclusion of the project, a post-mortem provides valuable feedback about future executions. This is an essential component of strong business process management .
Specifically, a post-mortem will determine if the project has met these envisaged benefits:
- Revenue growth
- Productivity gains
- Cost containment
- New users / improved user experience
It will also identify these slippages:
- Failure to meet time frames
- Cost overruns
Whenever resources are going to be expended, they should support a well-defined business need, with projected benefits that’ll deliver value to the enterprise. The supporting business case may take the form of a comprehensive document, a presentation, or a verbal agreement.
Download a free business case template
Fill out the form below to get instant access to our business case template.
To save an editable copy, follow these simple steps:
- Click “File” in the top-left corner
- Click “Make a copy”
- Choose your destination folder
Three business case examples
Business case templates can cover a wide range of project types, including everything from creative projects to HR initiatives.
To learn more about the cases that your business should be seeing, here are three of the most commonly used business case examples, alongside detailed business case templates.
This Customer Relationship Management (CRM) business case template comes from Demand Metrics . It’s designed to help managers decide whether or not to invest in a client management solution. Its key sections include an executive summary, an opportunity overview, key success factors, risks, contingency plans, and a business impact analysis.
This human resources business case outline, created by sage , is designed to create the most convincing argument in favor of a human resources initiative. To achieve this aim, it covers key points including defining the business’s needs, outlining how the HR vision fits in with the business strategy, and identifying the key benefits of the investment (from a wellbeing and employee retention perspective).
This simple marketing business plan from TemplateLAB offers a template that covers all bases. It’s designed to help users create the most convincing business case for their proposed marketing projects, by ensuring that they create a carefully constructed argument, clearly aligning the campaign with the overall business objective.
The four key elements a business case should contain
Whatever project or idea your business case is for, it should always cover these four key elements. From the perspective of a manager, these factors are a fundamental part of the decision-making process.
So, you want to be one step ahead, and provide a convincing argument that covers these points before the manager even has to ask the questions.
The executive summary is a condensed version of the business case, which is succinctly summarized in a couple of paragraphs. It typically comes at the start of the business case document. It should cover the problem, need, or opportunity that this initiative is reacting to, the proposed solution, the resources required, the planned action, plus a risk assessment, a brief outline of the expected benefits, and the predicted ROI.
This section will break down all of the finances of the proposed project. It should clearly outline the project costs, what financial funding is required, and where it will be spent. Remember, it’s designed to convince the managers that this is a project worth investing in, so it should also include a strong cost-benefit analysis, building on a risk assessment. The more detailed and accurate this section is, the better.
At this stage in the business case, you will need to provide more detail about the project scope, including the nature of the project, what it will look like, the elements that it includes, and the solutions that it will provide. It should be clear what gap the project intends to fill and the benefits that it will bring to the organization. In short, how will this project contribute to your overall business objective?
In this section, you will need to outline how, if approved, you intend to organize the project development. This should include a timescale, key deadlines, naming the project manager and the project team members who will be involved in this project, and what roles they will be assigned. For the manager reviewing the business case, it should be clear what steps will be taken immediately following their approval.
How to write a simple business case
Now that you know all of the key things to include, and how to present your case in the most convincing way possible, it’s time to get started. In this section, we’ll be outlining how to write a simple business case, which covers all of the key points, without forcing you to spend weeks putting it together.
But, before you jump straight into writing it, there are some important steps that you need to take first.
Before you start writing your business case, a good starting point is to think about how to frame your case and identify some key points that will lay the foundation for your convincing argument.
The best way to do this is by:
Researching market competitors
Find out who else is currently offering a similar concept, and identify any strengths or weaknesses in their version of it.
Find out what alternative solutions, products, or strategies currently exist, then weigh your suggestion against these.
Analyzing your findings
Evaluate the current field for this idea, and identify where your version of it stands in the marketplace. Does it do more than your competitors? Or, does it fulfill a particular niche that the others don’t? Or better yet, is there no one else that currently offers this useful initiative?
Compile your data
Set it up in a convincing plan outline.
Based on this research, what would be the best direction in which to take your idea?
Once you have completed these steps, you can start writing your business case. We would recommend that you follow the structure below, in order to create a logically structured and well-thought-out case.
1. Executive summary
As we mentioned above, this section is the introduction to your business case. It’s designed to open the case with a strong, succinct summary of what your project is, how you intend to undertake it, and the benefits that it will bring. That way, the reader can continue evaluating the rest of the case with a clear knowledge of your proposition.
This high-level, condensed version of the business case includes:
- The problem, need, or opportunity
- The options that were considered
- The required resources
- The benefits and values to be derived
- A risk analysis
- The project scope and predicted project outcome
- The recommended action
- An investment appraisal, including the predicted return on investment (Although this section leads the business case, it also needs to be reviewed after all the data has been interpreted.)
2. Financial component
This section outlines all of the finances of the project, including the predicted cost of the project, plus a more detailed breakdown of how exactly the budget will be spent.
In essence, a financial appraisal is designed to evaluate a proposed investment, in terms of its financial viability. It assesses the return of investment that it will bring to the investor. Typically, this details the project costs, then covers data like profitability index, a risk analysis, and a ratio analysis, while detailing the scope for financial rewards that the project offers.
This can be done in a number of ways, depending on the nature of the project. For instance, if it’s a marketing project, then this section of the business case should outline how the investment will be returned, and, possibly, even returned with interest. This new marketing strategy may tap into a new market, increase traffic to the website, or create a higher rate of customer retention, for example.
This section specifically targets the decision-makers that will approve the funding. It includes a comparison of projected costs (including associated costs) against the benefits that it will bring.
The analysis will need to include an objective evaluation of the following:
- The cost of installation
- The cost of operator training
- Incremental energy costs, as opposed to the projected benefits
- Increased capacity, efficiencies, additional revenue, margin improvement, and cost avoidance.
In addition to this, a sensitivity analysis will cover potential risks when implementing the plan, and allows the project accountant to look at alternative outcomes, if there is uncertainty.
3. Project definition
The project definition represents the largest section in the business case document. At this point, you should cover the majority of the details about your project proposal, answering all of the questions that the investor is likely to ask.
Open with an introduction of the project, which explains how the idea was first devised. You should briefly outline the circumstances, opportunity, or problem identified, which made you begin to create a solution (i.e. the project).
For example, you may have noticed that your business Instagram page has a significant number of followers, but has a very small level of post engagement, or click-through rate. As a result, you identified that the company is not sufficiently utilizing this potential marketing channel. So, you have devised a project that will increase these key metrics and so open up a new opportunity for B2C marketing.
In this section, you will need to explain why you think that the project is worth doing. In short, explain the objective in a way that can highlight its benefits as much as possible.
To do this, answer these key questions in the section:
- What do you intend to achieve by initiating your solution, both quantitatively and qualitatively?
- What are the project’s goals? Be specific about this, break down the benefits, goals, targets, and objectives in as much objective detail as possible.
- What will you need in order to achieve this goal?
- How can the proposed project advance the business as a whole?
- Will your course of action support the corporate strategy, goals, and culture?
Benefits and constraints
As with any project, there will be both benefits and constraints that may be brought about. So, in order to decide whether it’s worth investing in the idea, these will need to be weighed against each other.
Rather than waiting for the manager to identify the risks for themselves, it’s far better to identify them here — that way, you get the chance to explain why they are outweighed by the benefits.
The benefits that you list in this section should cover both financial and non-financial points. These could include (depending on the nature of the project):
- Saving costs
- Increasing revenue
- Improving customer service
- Achieving a higher quality service
- Improving your position in the marketplace
- Matching (or beating) the service of your competitors
- Achieving better communication with your target market
As we mentioned earlier, there will have been a number of alternative options that you could have potentially taken to meet these objectives. So, in this section, you will need to identify, analyze, and evaluate those alternatives.
State the alternative options that you identified, detail what they would have included, then evaluate how successful they would be in your particular business context. Specify their strengths and weaknesses, then conclude by explaining why the project you have chosen is the one that promises the best results.
This list will, most likely, include a long list of options, some of which were quickly rejected. Then, it should end on a handful of strong options, which require a more detailed explanation of their rejection.
Note: these concepts may be complex and difficult to understand. If this is the case (for example, if you’re proposing the introduction of a new piece of technology) then it may be worth including a glossary, to ensure the reader understands all of the terminologies that you use here.
In a similar fashion to the section above, you will then need to explain how your project would position your business amongst your competitors.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do any of your competitors offer this? If so, how is your version of the project better than what they offer?
- What advantages will this project provide to your company that your competitors do not have?
- How will this project make your business stand out in the marketplace?
- Will the project make your customers more likely to choose you over a competitor?
- Will it make your services unique?
- Does it tap into key consumer requirements, or provide a better customer experience?
This outline summarizes the plan that you will follow if the business case is successfully accepted.
As such, it will need to list a number of key actionable details, to show the manager that you have thought the whole project through, and are ready to get things moving.
This section should include details surrounding the following:
- The planned activities
- Detailed timelines
- A breakdown of the work that’s required
- The departments that will be involved
- The individuals that will perform each task
- A timescale of the entire project
- The key stages that the project will go through
- The project’s main deliverables
This section provides a thorough assessment of the environment that your business operates. It should evidence your business’s current place within the market, detail any significant shifts within the market, and outline how the work of this proposal will unlock a better market position for your company.
To achieve this, ask yourself these questions:
- How is the market trending?
- Is your market share expanding or contracting?
- Have there been any major market disruptions?
- How has the competition changed?
- Is there new technology being introduced to the market?
- Are there new competitors?
- Do you anticipate any drastic changes to operating margins, due to increases in the costs of materials or transportation?
In short, include all of the factors that are currently influencing your business today, and any new factors that you predict will impact your company over the period covered by your proposed projects.
This section summarizes the risks and opportunities that are inherent to the action.
There will, inevitably, be risks involved with the project. The goal here is not to minimize or deny them (because the reviewer will certainly be aware of them), but to outline either how you will overcome them, or how the rewards make the risks worth taking.
In this section, you will need to thoughtfully answer key risk management questions:
- What risks or potential consequences are involved?
- What opportunities does the project promise? How do these outweigh the risks?
- How will the risks be managed?
Then, to close the section, quantify the impact of the risks as much as possible.
In this section, you will need to outline how you intend to complete the project.
Detail the methods that you will use to complete the work, adhere to the project’s timeframe, consistently meet the key deliverables, and deliver the project to the highest possible standard.
For example, is your project going to be completed entirely in-house? If so, what team members will be involved at which step?
Or, if you’re enlisting the help of any external contractors or freelancers, detail the stages at which they will be involved, and how you intend to ensure a successful collaborative effort.
A great point to include in this section would be, for example, how you propose to use an online collaboration software like Filestage to help all collaborators seamlessly work together.
In a business case, it’s vital that you cover every single detail about its finances.
So, an important point to cover is how exactly the work will be financed. This section will need to outline whether the company will be buying a new tool, whether it will need to fund the leasing of the tool (and if so, how long for), or if the organization will be outsourcing parts of the project to another company.
If any of the above applies, then details will need to be provided regarding the costs of these. Furthermore, if you intend to use a procurement process for these elements, outline the steps that this will involve.
4. Project organization
This is the final section of the business case document. In it, the proposer of the project provides a highly detailed breakdown of how the project will be organized within the company’s specific context.
As with any good project, you will need to enlist project managers and governors to oversee its progress, ensure everything is running on time, and provide reviews at key stages.
In this section, you will outline the specifics of the project governance, including:
- What the decision-making process will look like
- Who the reviewers will be
- Who will be given the authority to request changes or grant approval
- When reviews will be undertaken
- The frequency of check-ins
- The roles and responsibilities of your creative team
This section will clearly specify which of the company’s senior managers will be involved in the project development process, and what exactly is required of them.
Tip: Filestage streamlines the review and approval process of any file type. Just upload your files, invite your reviewers, and get clear feedback to ensure all your content meets compliance regulations.
Building on the details provided above, this section sets up formal progress updates at regular intervals.
To ensure that these progress updates achieve the best possible benefits for the project, you will need to specify the points that each review will need to cover.
These could be asking, for example:
- Did you meet the agreed-upon benefits?
- Did the benefits deliver the promised value to the organization?
- If these values have not been achieved yet, why not?
- Moving forward, what can be done to ensure better project execution?
These learnings inform future projects and provide for continuous improvements while executing strategies.
Furthermore, reporting also encompasses a retrospective post mortem to determine the project’s effectiveness. This way, you can minimize the likelihood of repeating any mistakes later on.
Examples of a business case template
Now, this may all sound like an awful lot of work, but don’t fret! With the help of a business case template, you can massively cut down the time spent on this task, while ensuring your proposition hits all the right notes.
Find our picks for the best project management tools to assist with business case development below.
Business case template by Filestage
Do you want to write your own business case but aren’t sure about the business case format? You don’t need to start from scratch. We’ve created the following simple business case template for you. If you want to use the Google Doc or Word version, all you need to do is fill out this form:
Get the free business case template
Business case workbook – pdf.
This handy business case workbook, created by CFDG, is available for download through the Academia website . The free business case template PDF provides a breakdown of each step in the business case creation process, for users to work their way through. It’s a great resource for anyone that’s new to the process.
Financial analysis templates – Excel
This financial analysis template comes in Microsoft Excel format, and it’s available for download via the Engineering Management website . The business case template provides all of the entry points that you need to input key data and create a clear financial summary to support your business case document.
Business case planning templates – Excel
Vertex42 has created a detailed business case planning template , which is available to download as either a Microsoft Word or Excel document, providing a good starting point to write a business case. The business case template has a number of features, including editable sample questions, tables to present data, and a customizable table of contents. With this easily editable template, users can create a comprehensive business case plan, which achieves complete clarity and a high level of professionalism.
Risk management templates – Excel
The Engineering Management website has also created a risk management template document. This simple business case template is available to download in an Excel format, making it easy to use for business case writers of any experience level. It contains spaces for risk identification, a qualitative analysis, and the chance to include a risk-response strategy, plus monitoring and control strategies, in your business case.
Four important tips to create a convincing business case
The secret to a successful business case all lies in how convincing it is. Remember, the purpose of this document is not only to detail the required information in a clear way but also to present it in a flattering light, which emphasizes all the remarkable benefits that it can unlock for the company.
To write a business case that gets your business case projects noticed, make sure you follow these four tips for compelling case writing.
Be brief and include only essential information
Although detail is important, there’s no need to go overboard. If your business case is too long, then it’s highly unlikely that your manager will have the time to read it all. In fact, if anything, they’ll probably be deterred from reading it at all. So, make sure that everything that you include is relevant and has a clear purpose — that way, every single sentence will give extra weight to your case.
Outline data clearly and concisely
If you have strong data to back up your case, don’t be afraid to let it do the talking.
Make sure that your data is clearly laid out and that it’s easy to follow, as this will play a huge role in convincing the reader to support your proposal. Using tables, bullet points, or even graphs are all great ways to emphasize the trends shown in the data.
Highlight values and benefits
When you write a business case, highlighting the values and benefits is the best way to convince the manager to grant their support to the new project.
These could be project yields, an improvement to the customer service, financial benefits, or personal benefits that are unlocked for the team — either way, make sure that they don’t go unnoticed!
Align the project with organizational goals
Show the reader that you have considered how the project fits within the goals of the organization as a whole. For instance, if one of your business objectives is to reach a new target audience aged between 18-25, then clearly state how your project will help this business objective to be met. This is a great way to convince the reader of your project’s value.
Business case FAQs
Do you still have some questions? Don’t worry, they will most likely be answered in our business case FAQ section.
Who needs a business case?
Business cases are used by companies across a huge variety of sectors. They can be used in a wide variety of ways, and so, they are valued by people across all areas of your company.
These include the project manager, sponsors, stakeholders, and even members of the public. In essence, anyone who would be affected by a business change or new project may ask for a business case before they would be happy to approve the change.
Who is responsible for creating a business case?
Typically, the project manager, project executive, or business analyst would be responsible for writing a business case. This is because they would be the ones most heavily involved in the project’s development, but do not have the authority to grant its funding.
What is a standard business case template?
Standard business case templates are fantastic project management tools that allow users to write a business case without having to start from scratch. They can use different business case templates and then fill in the details for their specific project, to put forward a proposed business change quickly and yet thoroughly.
How long is a good business case?
This depends on the nature of the new project. It will need to be long enough to answer all of the key fields, but the creator shouldn’t be padding out the document with unnecessary descriptions that make the document longer than it needs to be.
Who approves a business case?
A business case is approved by either an investor or a sponsor. Who this is, depends on the nature of the company. In some cases, a business case will be approved by a senior member of the company, such as the CEO or CFO.
What makes a good business case?
To write a business case effectively, you will need to:
- Use a business case template
- Include a detailed project plan
- Clearly list the expected benefits
- Write a detailed and clear project description
- Make the project schedule realistic and context-specific
- Thoroughly complete relevant research
- Specify any major risks
- Realize benefits, including project yields and financial benefits
- Effectively manage any of the risks, and write this alongside a cost-benefit analysis
- Ensure the project aligns with company objectives
The development of a business case is both a process and a skill. Keeping these components in mind, you can create a compelling case for almost any business initiative. You can practice by developing business cases for smaller issues, so you can gain expertise and hone your creative skills.
The above templates and examples are designed to inspire business cases for your projects. You always need to consider the specific informational requirements of your decision-makers. Use this template, adapt the elements as necessary, and make it yours.
Remember that the keys to project success are setting deadlines, staying within the budget, and producing the projected benefits. Focus on the value your benefits deliver to the organization. Ensure that the expended time and resources are warranted by the value creation.
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How to write a business case (+ free template and example)
Let’s say you are a project manager — and you notice the communication tool your team is using is outdated and difficult to use.
It frequently causes issues in communication — team members don’t always receive meeting invites, messages get lost, you can’t save important information without writing it down somewhere separately, etc.
You discovered a new communication tool that you think would be great to switch to, but that would require the whole company to transition from one to the other. You can’t just suggest this to your superiors, without offering concrete evidence as to why the switch is necessary.
This is where a business case comes into play. It outlines why and how an endeavor or a project is worth undertaking. In this text, we will talk about:
- What a business case is,
- How it differs from similar documents,
- How to write and present a business case,
- The Five Case Model for preparing a business case, and
- The key elements of a business case.
We will also provide you with a business case template you can use, and an example you can reference.
Table of Contents
What is a business case?
As per the PMBOK 7th Edition , “ a business case is a value proposition for a proposed project that may include financial and nonfinancial benefits. ”
On top of this, “ a business case can contain information about strategic alignment, assessment of risk exposure, economic feasibility study, return on investments, expected key performance measures, evaluations, and alternative approaches. ”
Basically, a business case is a document that acts as the summary of your project idea, providing the reasons it should be executed and focusing on the benefits it brings.
Writing one should be among the first steps to starting your project — as you will use it to gain the attention of the stakeholders and convince them to support your project.
We’ll get into detail on writing it, but first — let’s clear up the difference between a business case and some terms it’s often confused with.
Business case vs. business plan
A business case and business plan seem similar at first glance — they both outline a project and can be used for stakeholder propositions.
In reality, though, they are used for different things.
The main difference between the two is what they focus on.
Business cases are created for endeavors within a business — projects, acquisitions, events — while business plans are typically used when starting a new business.
A business plan will contain broader aspects of a business — like a mission statement or target market. Business cases are more specific, and they deal with an aspect of a business — be it an issue or an opportunity.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
You can find examples of how to write a business plan in our guides on starting a business in different US states:
- How to start a business in Connecticut
- How to start a business in Arizona
- How to start a business in Alabama
- How to start a business in Arkansas
Business case vs. project plan
A business case can also be confused with a project plan . However, a business case should justify why a project should exist. Only after a project is approved, post business case review, a project plan is created.
Where a business case will speak on how a project should look, a project plan will determine how it will look. Meaning, business cases are broader and more theoretical. Project plans need to be exact, as they will serve as guidelines for all project team members .
Business case vs project charter
The main difference between a business case and a project charter lies in their similarities — a business case is used to justify a project’s existence, while a project charter is used to authorize its execution. Again, a business case is created before the project charter.
The second difference between the two is in how concrete they are. A business case suggests project managers, while the project charter authorizes them. Essentially, the project charter makes the final calls on how things should be done.
The same goes for the project scope — while a business case can suggest the schedule and budget of a project, the project charter will make the final decision.
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How to complete a business case in 3 steps
The business case is one of the most important documents to create for your project. Therefore, you should approach the process of making one with utmost care and attention.
For ease of reference, this process can be separated into the following steps:
- Do your research,
- Write incrementally, and
- Present your business case.
Step #1: Do your research
Rushing into things blindly will practically always result in failure. So, before you begin writing a business case, you must gather as much information as possible regarding the desired project.
It’s good to seek out information on matters you know little about. Consult experts in the fields required for your project.
For example, if you are creating an app to help tourists experience lesser-known landmarks, you want to consult both with IT experts and tourism experts for the appropriate locations.
Now, instead of relying on data you’re unsure of, you have concrete, confirmed information that you can create your project around.
Basically — you’re taking the guesswork out of the equation.
Step #2: Write incrementally
Now that you have all the information necessary for your project, it’s time to start writing your business case.
This is where you’ll determine where certain pieces of information you’ve gathered will fit — which piece of your project they are necessary for.
Knowing how to utilize what you’ve learned is essential for this step. For example, if you’ve gathered information on what it would take to create your app, you should know the:
- Employee skill sets required, and
- The number of employees needed for your project.
Once you have all the information, try to present it in a concise but compelling manner.
It’s good to check in with your project stakeholders for updated information and change the business case incrementally with their input. After all, the stakeholders have your project’s best interest at heart, so their advice is to the project’s benefit.
You want to save the executive summary for last since it will be a recap of all you’ve written in your business case.
Step #3: Present your business case
Now that you’ve completed your business case, it’s time to convince your stakeholders that it’s an endeavor worth pursuing.
Whether it’s external financiers or company seniors, you need to have important stakeholders on your side for the project to take off.
Your business case might be incredible, but if you cannot sell the idea you’re pushing, it will be difficult to get any backing. So, organize a presentation for your stakeholders or try an elevator pitch — a quick way of presenting your key points.
If you’re inexperienced with presenting your ideas, practicing an elevator pitch is a great way to realize what the main selling points of your project are.
An elevator pitch should last around 30 seconds — about as much as an elevator ride lasts — and include the main reasons someone should invest (be it their time, funds, or effort) into your project.
The Five Case Model for developing a business case
When writing your business case, you should not only be concerned with what the contents of your business case will look like but who will be reading that content as well.
There are many different kinds of stakeholders, and all of them will be looking for different appeals in your business case. To help you write one that can get positive remarks from all of them, you can use the Five Case model .
It suggests that a business case should be written from five different points of view, named:
- The strategic case,
- The economic case,
- The commercial case,
- The financial case, and
- The management case.
POV #1: The strategic case
The strategic case is written from the perspective of the business itself. It aims to show how a project will keep in line with the business objectives, goals, and vision — and benefit them.
The goal is to show how this project will positively impact the business — whether directly, through perhaps a product, or indirectly, through something like a PR stunt.
POV #2: The economic case
The economic case is written to show how the project brings social value, including environmental effects. The most important part of the economic case is the options analysis, which we will touch on in the next segment.
Not surprisingly, you want to focus on the economic case if you are making a project that will interact with the public.
POV #3: The commercial case
The commercial case is written to show the commercial strategy and cost-effective procurement of project resources . It shows that you have a good understanding of the marketplace by assessing supply options.
You’ll need to keep updated on costs, the resources you’ll need, as well as any risks that might come when acquiring them.
POV #4: The financial case
The financial case, in essence, wants to answer the question — can we afford it? It speaks on the funding of the project and the support of stakeholders and customers.
For the financial case, you need a thorough understanding of the capital, revenue, and whole-life costs of your project. You also need to address any possible gaps in funding that might arise during the course of the project.
POV #5: The management case
The management case is written to show the delivery, monitoring, and evaluation of the project. You need to assure your stakeholders that your project will be managed with the best practices and that all timelines are set with appropriate goals assigned to them.
It mostly covers the project governance and risk management elements of the business case, which we will talk about soon.
7 Key elements of a business case
A business case can have many elements — there can be over 50 elements in a detailed document.
However, we can divide and combine them into 7 key elements that should exist in every business case, namely:
- Executive summary
- Financial assessment
- Business objectives
- Project options analysis
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Project governance
- Risk management
Let’s dive further into them and see what you should look into when writing each of these elements in your business case.
Element #1: Executive summary
You could view the executive summary as a retelling of the essence of the business case. It gathers all the most important information from the rest of the document in one place.
An executive summary should start with an introduction and answer the following questions:
- What issue does the project solve or what opportunity does it take advantage of?
- What options exist to tackle this issue/opportunity?
- What option is the preferred solution?
Next, you want to present the research you went through to create this business case. Then, go through your recommended actions — the conclusion of your research. This is essentially where the bulk of your project expectancies go.
By the end, the reader of your executive summary should understand what they’re getting into for the rest of the document.
Element #2: Financial assessment
In the financial assessment, you want to predict the cash flows of your project. The first thing you want to show in this section is detailed cost estimates and risks.
You should produce cost estimates for different aspects of the project — for the app example, think UI design or marketing — and determine them at both the P50 and P90 levels of confidence.
P50 means a cost estimate with a 50% probability of not exceeding it, and P90 means a 90% chance of the same.
For example, you’re 50% sure that the UI design costs will not exceed $50k, but you’re 90% sure they won’t be over $70k.
Next, you want to present the following:
- Project funding analysis,
- Development analysis (the cost of scoping a project),
- Staffing impact summary, and
- Summary of costs for each project phase.
Element #3: Business objectives
The business objective answers a simple question — why are you doing the project?
Think back on what we described first in the executive summary. What opportunities or issues arose that require this project to exist?
How does this project relate to the current business strategy? You need to convince everyone reading that your project needs to happen.
What are your project goals? Once you determine project goals, you can determine:
- Project scope,
- Project constraints , and
- Project deliverables .
Element #4: Project options analysis
Now that you’ve justified the reason your project should exist, it’s time to take on different options for its execution.
This element is dedicated to analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each option — basically, doing a SWOT analysis for each of them.
Then you want to shortlist the options by discarding the ones that don’t lead to the desired outcome. Finally, do a reassessment of the shortlisted options and discard options accordingly.
Take a look at the external stakeholder impact of each option. More specifically, you want to look at the nature and level of impacts, specify the negative ones, and propose how they should be managed and mitigated.
While this boils down to a risk analysis for each option, it’s broader and used to determine the overall risk of each option. A more detailed risk analysis, determining the weight of specific risks and building contingency plans, comes later.
The project that comes out of this will be the preferred option for tackling the issue or opportunity described, which will be used as a reference when the actual project is executed. Finally, determine target outcomes for the reference project, measured with project KPIs . The targets must be realistic and measurable, yet challenging.
Element #5: Cost-benefit analysis
A cost-benefit analysis is used to prove that your project is worth doing from a business point of view. It proves that the benefits of doing a project are greater than the costs, thus justifying the project.
The cost-benefit analysis is done in 4 steps:
- Establish a framework — in this step, ask yourself what the measurement of your project’s success is (hint — take a look at the KPIs you’ve determined) and make sure both costs and benefits are measurable.
- Analyze costs and benefits — measure the costs and benefits of your project separately. Some are obvious — material or employee costs — but some are more elusive. If you are using an owned facility to house the project in, you are not spending any money for rent, per se — but that facility’s worth is being directed towards your project, so it’s an indirect cost.
- Establish a value for the costs and benefits — to compare the costs and benefits, they must share an equal “value unit”. Traditionally, monetary currencies are used, but you can be more creative if the situation calls for it. Intangible costs and benefits can be difficult to place a specific value on, but not impossible to achieve still.
- Compare the value of the costs and benefits — compare the sums of both the costs and benefits of your project. If the benefits outweigh your costs, your business case is good to go. If it’s the opposite, maybe you should revise the option you chose in the previous element.
Element #6: Project governance
Who will do what in your project? This is the question you want to answer in the project governance element of your business case. A typical hierarchy is set as:
- Responsible minister,
- The project control group,
- Project sponsor, and lastly,
- Project team.
Next, you want to analyze communications. In essence, how and how frequently will you communicate with certain stakeholders?
You can use:
- Progress reports for superiors,
- Team meetings for team members as internal stakeholders, or
- Even social media for communication with customers as external stakeholders.
If you want to know more about the importance of communication in a project, check out this article:
- Why is communication important in project management?
Element #7: Risk management
Lastly, an element you mustn’t underestimate is risk management . Risk assessment is so vital to every project that it’s done while writing a business case, so even before the project is approved.
Risks are analyzed through 2 criteria — likelihood, and impact.
By likelihood, they can be:
- Almost certain,
- Possible, and
By impact, they can be:
- Major, and
These criteria are used to create a risk matrix, determine the categories of risks, and make us aware of how urgent action is. Safe to say, if a risk is both catastrophic in impact and almost certain in likelihood, action on it is prioritized over any other.
You can vary these parameters of likelihood and severity to keep your analysis flexible, as seen here:
After all the risks have been identified, you want to construct a risk management plan , outlining all risks and their categories, as well as figuring out contingency plans for all of them.
If you want to learn more about managing risk in your projects, check out this guide:
- What is risk in project management?
Business case template + example
Knowing the steps to make a business case, however, does not properly explain what a business case looks like.
A business case can be very detailed — the sheer number of points in it could be as long as an academic paper.
But, we’ve created a business case template with 7 of the most important points it should have:
- Executive summary
- Cost benefit analysis
🔽 Get the free business case template here
A filled-out business plan template can be extensive, spanning many pages of documentation. So, to give you an idea of what you should be writing about in a specific situation — we have filled in a business case template with the thought process that will come into writing each element:
Project title: Poetry Night event
Start date: 10/5/2023
Project manager: William Cambridge
Contact info: [email protected]
Executive summary: Reasoning for a poetry night might come from doing a poll, showing that the local area has no such events, yet the populace shows a good number of aspiring writers and poets.
Financial assessment: Cost estimates for this project may vary — renting space may be mandatory, and you might want catering for the event. Both of these may vary in cost depending on the number of attendees, so for your P90 analysis you should take a look at the poll results to estimate the maximum number of guests.
Business objectives: This project is done for public benefit, but can also serve to boost the PR of an organization. The project goals might be viewed through the attendees’ satisfaction, a boost in your organization’s online presence, or a rise in the popularity of a poet you were trying to promote with the event.
Project options analysis: This section would be dedicated to analyzing the different kinds of executions of the poetry night. Should it be in public, or in a closed rented space? Should there be light music in the background, and would it be beneficial to the event if the music was live? If you’re unsure of the answer — consult with stakeholders. In this case, you could do another poll.
Cost benefit analysis: The benefits of this project will largely be intangible — the rise in your organization’s popularity or the satisfaction of attendees would be difficult to quantify with dollar signs. However, there might be tangible benefits to find — if your organization offers a product or service, is there an expected rise in procurement after the project’s completion?
Project governance: Who will be in charge of the organization of the project? Who will be the sponsor? Who will tend to the catering? Who will be the presenter, and whose poetry will be presented? Answering these questions gives us project governance in this example.
Risk management: Is there a possibility that very few people will show up? Is there a possibility that the vendor of the rented space or the catering cancels last minute? In that case, is there a backup you can use and how can you notify all attendees of the change effectively?
And below, you can see how our example looks when we add it to our business template:
Conclusion: Use a business case to pitch your ideas correctly
By now, you should be aware that just having an idea usually isn’t enough to make someone want to support it. Analyzing it, justifying it, and creating a detailed business case around it are the essence of selling an idea to superiors or potential investors.
Always start with the idea itself — the best way to bring someone closer to it is to explain how you came up with it in the first place. Be sure to compare with alternatives, and show why your case is the one to go with.
A business case is a great tool to facilitate growth, whether it be small or large in scale.
✉️ Do you have experience with writing business cases and have additional advice on the subject? If yes, write to us at [email protected] and we may include your advice in this or future articles.
Luka Bogavac is a project management author and researcher who focuses on making project management topics both approachable and informative. With experience in entrepreneurial projects, education, and writing, he aims to make articles that his younger self would appreciate. In his free time, he enjoys being outdoors hiking, or staying indoors with a good film or video game.
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How To Write the Perfect Business Case
Why do too many projects fail to deliver their objectives even though project management best practices appear to be used? Project management is naturally complicated, but it can be disastrous if you don’t have sufficient buy-in from the right parties. Writing a strong and complete business case can make all the difference.
In this how-to guide you will discover,
- What is a business case?
Why you need a business case
- Is the project worth doing?
When to use a business case
How to write a business case, the business case template, a business case example, 1. the executive summary, 2. the finance section, 3. the project definition, 4. project organization, managing the business case, making the case, frequently asked questions, what is a business case.
A business case is developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the why, what, how, and who necessary to decide if it is worthwhile continuing a project. One of the first things you need to know when starting a new project are the benefits of the proposed business change and how to communicate those benefits to the business.
While the project proposal focuses on why you want a project, it will only contain an outline of the project:
- business vision
- business need
- expected benefits
- strategic fit
- products produced
- broad estimates of time and cost
- and impact on the organization
In contrast, the business case, which is first developed during the project initiation phase , contains much more detail. It should be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, canceled, deferred, or revised.
Depending on the scale of the business change, the business case may need further development as part of a detailed investigation. Therefore, it should be developed incrementally so that time and resources aren’t unnecessarily wasted on the impractical.
Preparing the business case involves an assessment of:
- Business problem or opportunity
- Costs including investment appraisal
- Technical solutions
- Impact on operations
- Organizational capability to deliver the project outcomes
These project issues are an important part of the business case. They express the problems with the current situation and demonstrate the benefits of the new business vision.
The business case brings together the benefits, disadvantages, costs , and risks of the current situation and future vision so that executive management can decide if the project should go ahead.
Many projects start life as a walk in the fog, which is fine in itself, but never see the light of day or stumble along aimlessly for too long because the clarity of scope , time-scale, cost, and benefits are not defined adequately during the first stages of the project.
Is the project worth doing
Why are you starting a project? Chances are you’re doing it because you need to solve a problem.
Usually, the problem is something that gets in the way of achieving your goals . So, it seems a project is about achieving goals and your goals won’t be realized unless you deal with the problem (or opportunity or circumstance.)
If a project is worth doing you need to answer 4 simple questions:
- What is your goal?
- What’s stopping you from reaching the goal?
- How much change is needed to overcome the problem?
- Are you certain this will solve the problem?
Can you answer these questions quickly? Do you have evidence to support or refute your assumptions?
If not, it may not be worth starting a project.
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The business case is needed when resources or expenditure on a project has to be justified. Approval is usually sought from the project sponsor and other interested parties. For instance, the finance function may authorize funds and the IT department provide resources.
The purpose of the business case is communication. Therefore, each section should be written in the parlance of the intended audience.
Moreover, it should only contain enough information to help decision making. When writing a business case keep the following in mind:
- Be brief and convey only the essentials.
- Make it interesting, clear, and concise.
- Eliminate conjecture and minimize jargon.
- Describe your vision of the future.
- Demonstrate the value and benefits the project brings to the business.
- Ensure consistent style and readability.
The project sponsor is responsible for preparing the business case. However, all appropriate team members should contribute to its development. Likewise, subject matter experts from other functions ― finance, HR, IT, service delivery, and so on ― can provide specialist information.
Those writing the business case should have a thorough understanding of the project’s aims and be able to merge the varied and potentially complex plans into one document using the following business case template.
What follows are the four steps to writing a business case template for your project. It includes the following four sections:
- Executive Summary
- Project Definition
- Project Organization
This example of a business case is a simplified version for a small company with few staff. The bigger the project, the bigger the risk, which means the more detail you will need to provide for your investors and stakeholders.
In 2021, retail e-Commerce revenue reached 768 billion US dollars. People are expecting more digital experiences and want to interact and purchase what they need online.
Our current website is just a static page with no interaction available to possible customers. With a website upgrade to incorporate an e-Commerce store, we can entice users to purchase all their training online, in return increasing productivity and efficiency within the office. An estimated $25,000 could be saved a year through this upgrade.
1.1 Financial Appraisal
The expected cost of the new website is $15,000 with a $500 annual maintenance fee.
The training costs of the staff is estimated at $2,000, but the reduction of administration and manual handling of orders is estimated to save $25,000 annually.
1.2 Sensitivity Analysis
The alternatives include:
- Maintaining the current system, which costs $25,000 annually to maintain and run.
- Upgrading the website, but not including an e-Commerce store. This would cost $6,000, but the cost of processing the orders is still $25,000.
- Outsourcing the training purchases to a third-party site, which would cost between $49.99 - $100 per month. In the long run this would cost more and offer less development scope.
2. PROJECT DEFINITION
2.1 Background information
The World is digitizing and we, as a business, must keep up with consumer demand if we are to remain one of the most sought-after training providers.
Since 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19, many more people have been working remotely and wish to access their training requirements online. We need to update our systems to provide our customers with a purely online system that can provide them with their required training courses in a virtual environment, from purchase through to attendance. This new e-Commerce website is the first step in this process.
2.2 Business Objective
The goal is to provide an online platform where customers can purchase their training requirements.
The solution is to build an e-Commerce website.
This syncs with the business strategy, as it will increase efficiency and profits.
2.3 Benefits and Limitations
The benefits of this project far out-weigh the negatives. They include:
- Improvement in the quality of customer service and user journey
- Increased conversion rate through streamlined processes
- Cost savings through efficiencies
- Reduced working capital
- Increase in revenue generated
- Remain competitive in a digital world.
The limitations of this project remain with staffing, as we do not have a web designer or developer within our company, meaning this will still have to be outsourced if anything arises at a future date.
2.4 Option Identification & Selection
Options for the e-Commerce site include the following:
- WordPress website with WooCommerce store
- All-in-one website hosted on e-Commerce platform such as Shopify
- Use of third-party payment system, such as Stripe, PayPal, or Worldpay
- Ability to take payments directly through the website and acting as controller and processor of user’s sensitive data
- Inclusion of a blog
- Integration of CRM platform.
2.5 Scope, Impact, and interdependencies
The website will be built independently from the current site, so will not affect any current processes or user experience.
2.6 Outline Plan
The website will be built by an external agency and will take around 6 months to complete and push live.
One month before going live the staff will undertake essential training.
2.7 Market Assessment
Since retail e-Commerce has risen to $768 billion US Dollars, it’s time we also made the move to online sales.
2.8 Risk Assessment
The project will be completed out of house.
2.9 Project Approach
The project will be managed out of house.
2.10 Purchasing Strategy
We will enter a contractual agreement with the creative agency. Attached is a copy of the proposed contract.
3. PROJECT ORGANIZATION
3.1 Project Governance
Project will be managed by the agency and in-house by the Centre Executive.
3.2 Progress Reporting
The agency will report to the Centre Executive.
Depending on the length of the business case you may want to include a high-level summary of the project.
The executive summary is the first section of the business case and the last written. It is a short summary of the entire business case. It succinctly conveys vital information about the project and communicates the entire story to the reader.
First impressions are important. Get this right!
The finance section of an effective business case is primarily for those who approve funding. The finance function will be interested in this plus the first half of the project definition.
When you prepare the financial appraisal seek advice on content and presentation from the finance function. In the case of capital developments, consult subject matter experts.
The purpose of a financial appraisal is to:
- Identify the financial implications for the project
- Compare project costs against the forecast benefits
- Ensure the project is affordable
- Assess value for money
- Predict cash flow.
Sensitivity analysis concerns project risk and looks at alternative futures by measuring the impact on project outcomes or assumptions of changing values in which there is uncertainty.
In effect, sensitivity analysis lets the project accountant experiment with possible scenarios.
This is the largest part of the business case and is for the project sponsor, stakeholders, and project team. It answers most of the why, what, and how questions about your project.
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.
This part describes why you are doing the project. The business objective answers the following questions:
- What is needed to overcome the problem?
- How will the project support the business strategy?
Benefits and limitations.
The benefits and limitations section describes the financial and non-financial benefits in turn. The purpose is to explain why you need a project.
For instance, to:
- Improve quality
- Save costs through efficiencies
- Reduce working capital
- Generate revenue
- Remain competitive
- Improve customer service
- Align to corporate strategy
The business case should also include any limitations since these present potential risk to the project.
Option identification and selection.
Identify the potential solutions to the problem and describe them in enough detail for the reader to understand.
For instance, if the business case and proposed solution makes use of technology, make sure to explain how the technology is used and define the terms used in a glossary. Since most problems have multiple solutions an option appraisal is often needed. This will explore the potential solutions and recommend the best option.
When writing the initial business case, the option appraisal is likely to contain a long list of options and will cover many possibilities. As the project continues a few options will be rejected. The final business case may contain three to five options ― the short list ― that includes a do nothing or benchmark option.
Scope, impact, and interdependencies.
This section of the business case template describes the work needed to deliver the business objective and identifies those business functions affected by the project.
Moreover, the project scope, impact, and interdependencies section should state the project’s scope and boundaries. It describes what is included and what is excluded plus the 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.
The outline plan provides a summary of the main activities and overall timescale ― project schedule ― for the project.
A project should be divided into stages with the decisions to make preceding each stage. Use this section to answer the following questions:
- What is required?
- How is it done?
- Who does what?
- When will things happen?
This outline plan lists the major deliverables and includes a brief project description plus accountabilities for each activity.
It is important that the business case provides its readers with a thorough assessment of the business context ― the market assessment. In other words, make the underlying business interests explicit.
Therefore, the market assessment should show a complete understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates.
A good starting point is the inclusions of a PESTLE ― political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental ― analysis.
The risk assessment summarizes the significant project risks and opportunities and how they are managed. Include any risks that could arise from your project, as well as the organization’s ability to deliver change.
This section answers the following questions:
- 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?
- Every project should include a risk log
When writing a business case, make sure this is included as it explains how risk and opportunity are managed.
The project approach describes how the project is tackled. 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.
This section describes how a project is to be financed and whether a decision to buy, lease, or outsource should be taken by the organization before purchasing.
Moreover, the purchasing strategy should describe the purchasing process used. A formal procurement process may save time and money and reduce project risk.
The last section of the business case template is of most interest to the project manager, project team, and managers responsible for delivering work to the project. This project organization section describes how the project is set up.
This section of the business case template shows the reader how the project is structured and the different levels of decision-making. Usually, a business will already have implemented a project governance framework that will support the project through each stage.
If your organization does not use a structured project management process framework use this section to include:
- Roles and responsibilities (RACI Chart)
- Project tolerances
- Project standards
- Review points
- How decisions are made.
Finally, the business case should define how project progress is recorded and the project board updated on project performance. Usually, the project manager does this by preparing a concise progress report or highlight report at regular intervals.
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The completed business case provides structure for the project and project organization throughout the project lifecycle . Therefore, it should be used routinely for reference and not consigned to the shelf.
Accordingly, the project sponsor and project board should review and update the business case at key stages to check that the project remains viable and the reasons for doing it are still valid. Ideally, the review should take place before starting a new stage to avoid unnecessary investment in time and money.
In this article we showed you how to write a business case. We covered a lot of ground and may give the impression that the resulting business case is a large and unwieldy document.
This is not the case.
A business case should be concise and to the point. For small projects it may run to a few pages. For larger projects and complex business change endeavors the document will be large.
Therefore, be sure to keep the intended audience in mind when preparing each section and include supporting information in an appendix.
For instance, the option appraisal section may summarize each option with the details contained elsewhere for reference.
To conclude, the purpose of a business case is to outline the business rationale for undertaking a project and to provide a means to continually assess and evaluate project progress.
What is the difference between a business case and a business plan?
The focus of the business case is an action, which is usually the purchase of capital equipment or a service. In comparison, the focus of the business plan is to outline the future of a business proposal, it’s margins, revenue growth over several years and what the business goals and strategies will encompass.
What should be included in a business case?
Writing a business case can seem like a daunting task, which is why we have provided you with a business case template and example to help you make a start.
The four sections include:
What is a business case template?
A business case template provides you with a structure and format to present your case to relevant stakeholders and investors. It’s essential that this document communicate the essence of your project’s goals and benefits, while aligning with the company’s strategies and objectives.