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6 essential elements for a winning business case

The Top 4 Benefits of Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Case Study

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What is a Case Study?
What's a business case?

The first stage of preparation involves a thorough analysis of the situation that led to the initiative for the project. These requirements might include time and human resources required and deadlines for return on investment ROI or for completion of the business case, project or project phases.

Next, you should identify all the sources of data that will be required to support the business case. These sources may include financial sources from within the company, case studies from similar projects, historical data, industry analysis and forecasts, demographic studies, and so on. Based on all the inputs available, you should have an idea of how likely it is that the project will be approved.

Use that determination to decide whether or not to go ahead and write the document. The executive summary The executive summary is a high-level view of the business case document. It explains, in a condensed form and plain language, the problem that the proposed project is intended to solve, the major considerations, the resources required to complete the project, the desired outcome, the predicted return on investment and a projection of when that ROI should be achieved.

Because some stakeholders may only read the executive summary, it's crucial to include any information that is essential to an informed decision. Like the abstract on an academic article, the executive summary is presented at the first but written after the rest of the document is completed. The problem statement This section is a straightforward articulation of the problem that the project is supposed to solve.

It identifies the area or areas where there are issues that need to be addressed, such as inefficiencies, missed opportunities, unacceptable market performance or unfavorable consumer response to a product or service. Analysis of the situation This section describes the situation behind the problem in more detail and how the situation came about. Finally, it provides general projections about potential events if the current situation continues.

The conclusion of the analysis should lead naturally to the next section. Solution options In this section, you identify potential solutions to the problem and describe them in sufficient detail for the reader to understand them. If, for example, the solution proposed is the implementation of desktop virtualization , you would define the term and discuss the use of the technology within your industry.

For most problems, there are multiple solutions possible and you should explore all solutions that are potentially the best option. Project description This section describes the project, including all the resources required for its implementation, the project budget and a timeline with measurable goals for all project milestones.

List any assumptions that the reader should be aware of, such as, for example, that government regulations pertinent to the project will not change. You should also list any dependencies, such as completion of other projects or the availability of key individuals. Note any risks involved with the project and briefly sketch a plan for dealing with them. In the budget section, include financial projections for relevant metrics such as ROI and total cost of ownership TCO.

You should also include a figure -- usually an additional percent of the total -- for scope creep. Identify and describe all stages of the project, including a post-project review. Include measurable criteria to determine the success of the project. Cost-benefit analysis This section evaluates the costs and benefits for all options, including the proposed solution to the problem and any likely alternatives -- which include, of course, taking no action at all.

Illustrate your case with data from similar projects and case studies, if possible. Charts and graphs are often included in this section or may be in an appendix at the end.

In any case, graphs can illustrate points that are hard to extrapolate from text-based data, so be sure to include as many as will be helpful. The cost-benefit analysis should include the projected financial benefit to the company and a projection of when that payoff is expected.

Recommendations In this section, you make your recommendations for the project and how it is to be conducted. The recommendation for implementation is a brief restatement of compelling results of the cost-benefit analysis and a final statement that you believe the project should go ahead. Articulate the circumstances under which it should be undertaken, including key individuals and actions.

Include a recommendation for scheduled reexamination of the project status. If there is any question as to the availability of key resources, make that clear. Include a recommendation for regularly scheduled reexamination of the project status. Refer the reader back to relevant document sections and graphical presentations where it might be helpful.

Check your document content to ensure that it's well-constructed and includes all the key elements. Following is a sample business case checklist:. Because every project is different, there may be elements that are important to your particular business case.

This is a good point at which to step away from the document, put it away and return with fresh eyes. Add any new items that occur to the checklist and determine if you've satisfied their requirements.

It could be in the form of a verbal message, but the structure and the content is, nevertheless, the same as if it were written up. Think about it, you present and hear business cases all the time, with your children, parents, significant others, friends, and colleagues. Did your teenage daughter convince you that she can't possibly survive without an iPod? Besides, Dad naps all the time anyway.

I have been asked so many times about the best structure for a business case that we have placed a template onto our corporate website www. It consists of the sections I will describe here, and you'll find that it is quite flexible. Nothing is really set in stone, including the headings. This is an important point, because flexibility is what you need to put a truly convincing case together.

A business case is not a government form in which you tick boxes as you answer a gazillion questions; it's a medium for your brilliant business thinking. Always written last, the Executive Summary presents the essence of the business case, in a condensed format. Pick the most important points that allow for a coherent picture, but strive to keep it concise: Certainly include objectives, proposed solution, benefits and costs, risks, and key dates. This section can be structured in a few of ways.

The first approach is appropriate for cases that deal with correcting a wrong. Describe the current situation and explain what the adverse impact is, be it of a financial nature or otherwise. The second approach, more suitable for cases that deal with new opportunities or mandatory changes, where the status quo is not necessarily deficient, is to use the following structure:.

The third approach, most appropriate for new opportunities, is to state what the case is proposing and describe why it is being considered. List several alternatives you considered, complete with benefits and costs, and risk assessment. Show how they align with such considerations as corporate and business unit strategy, vision, current priorities and other factors discussed in the blog I mentioned at the start of this piece.

You should use your judgment and include the appropriate amount of detail so not to overwhelm the reader and yet provide enough information for effective decision making. This is the old "know your audience" maxim, and it rings especially true here. It's usually appropriate to provide some ideas on how the implementation of the preferred solution should proceed, to show that you're presenting not a pipe dream but a carefully thought through solution.

Rarely is it necessary to create an exhaustive plan, unless specifically required by the decision makers. Include all supporting information, such as cost benefit analyses, reference materials, calculations, and charts. The importance of a business case to its author is enormous. Present a solid business case, and you have positioned yourself as knowledgeable thinker and innovator.

If noted by the decision makers, a promotion is certainly possible. In a case of a consultant, there will be repeat business. On the other hand, a weak business case is a career-limiting move. Sadly, I see a lot of business cases that are not worth the paper they're written on, and I always wonder how many careers are cut short as a result.


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The business case is developed during the early stages of a project; skipping or racing through the stages described in "How to Write a Business Case: 4 Steps to a Perfect Business Case .

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Jun 23,  · A business case provides justification for a proposed business change or plan, and typically outlines the allocation of capital and resources required to implement the proposed business case. and discuss the business areas that the business case must address for successful implementation. "This is really good. It helped me to write a 92%(46).

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A business case is the way you prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the product you’re pitching is a sound investment, and Jennifer Bridges, PMP, illustrates the steps to writing one that will sway them. The business case traditionally is a document that defines the core business. This is a good template to use to create a professional, well thought out business case. I know that writing and negotiation is not a strong suit of many developers and others in IT, so reviewing these tips could definitely be helpful.

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Learn everything you need to know about how to write a business case study, live in our #howtowrite series! Login Home / How to Write / How to Write a Business Case Study. How to Write a Business Case Study Just like any great novel, a good case study has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a conflict and a resolution. Writing a business case seems a simple and obvious task. It is not! With this article, I would like to share experience-based advices in order to maximize two goals: being efficient (minimize writing time) and produce a convincing testimonial. Fir.