Experience on Demand

Creating a Business Case

What exactly is a business case?  A business case is a document that outlines the justification for the approval and start-up of a project.  
More than that, it helps assess the project’s readiness for execution, determines resources needed, implementation plans, risks, etc.  Using a collaborative process, the team feels invested in the project from the very beginning, cultivating ownership of it and commitment to it.  To establish accountability, the stated benefits, timing, and costs should be part of each team member’s goals.  To increase awareness and accountability, post-project reviews are scheduled in advance.

There are ten dimensions of an effective business case:

  1. Executive Sponsor.  This is the individual responsible for the execution of the project.  Every project team member reports directly or indirectly to this executive for all project business.

  2. Cross-Functional Team.  This is a group of dedicated, cross-departmental employees who have been hand picked to participate in the project based on their unique skills and abilities.

  3. Team-Based Goals.  The cross-functional team members need to know not only the goals of the project but also their roles in meeting the objectives.  

  4. Schedule and Completion of Post-Project Reviews.  Revisiting the original goals after the project is completed is an important step in understanding the actual versus stated benefits.  

  5. Development of Time Line for Financial Projections.  It is important to develop a time line that outlines the projected financial impact to the company.  

  6. Identification of Non-Financial Benefits.  Various types of projects yield vastly different benefits.  It is important to note all benefits of a specific project as well as the financial impacts of those benefits.

  7. Development of Alternatives.  Alternatives are necessary to keep options open because they aid in effective decision making.  It is important, however, to include the option to do nothing--keep status quo as an alternative.  New alternatives are not always better ones.

  8. Completion of Risk Assessment.  It is crucial to identify, evaluate, and estimate the risks involved in the project.  After doing so, an acceptable level of risk needs to be determined.

  9. Implementation Plan Development.  In order to grasp the entire scope of the project, it is essential to determine how it will be implemented as well as the required resources needed for the execution of it.

  10. Manage the project.  The ideal business case should be set up similar to a project, complete with a project manager, project team, and project plan.  

The bottom line is that business cases lead to better decision making andmore successful projects.  Projects with a business case have a greater chance of being completed on time and on budget with more accurate and realized benefits than projects without one.  Business plans foster effective leadership and execution.   And, hopefully, all those unfruitful projects will never be approved, much less executed. 

Experience on Demand has developed a very effective business case process that asks the right questions, helping our clients make effective project decisions.  We welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss your needs.