Putting together a business case for a new project or initiative is one of the key skills that all business managers need. Whether you manage a small team or a large department, the key principles remain the same. Here are 5 hints for putting together a strong business case.
- Be brief and to the point.
Your business case will have to be read by people with many constraints on their time, and so communicating your case as succinctly as possible is hugely beneficial. Be careful to include all the most important information, and avoid anything superfluous.
- Don’t use conjecture, back up all your assertions with evidence.
Even the best plans can be brought down if they are based on unwarranted or incorrect assumptions. When you are putting together your business case, don’t take anything for granted, or your leave yourself open to many questions and objections, which will take time to resolve. Without a strong body of evidence to support your assertions you can’t be sure that when your plan is carried out it will generate the results you intend.
- Be clear about the benefits of the plan, and put a value to it.
The main selling point of your business case is obviously going to be the benefits that you hope it will generate, so make sure that this is stated as clearly as possible. Also do your best to put a monetary value to this benefit, or to otherwise quantify it in some meaningful way that is most relevant to your situation.
- Write for your audience – tailor the message to make sure you address their concerns.
Whoever your stakeholders are that you have to win over with your business case, make sure that you are going to show how it will impact them, and involve them in the case-building process. Not only will this help convince them to back the business case, but it will help you to create a plan that is more robust and suitable for the whole team.
- Present different, detailed options, with a recommendation and explanation.
When building your business case, try not to fixate on any one decision, instead keep your options open and offer a range of different cases for your team to select from. These could three entirely different strategies or it could be several different scenarios (eg. high/medium/low) investment for a single strategy. Building in this flexibility helps you tailor the business case to your team’s needs and to give them more options than simply accepting or rejecting the business case in its entirety.