The business justification, or business case, is one of the key documents prepared by a Project Manager. After all, it will convince stakeholders and ultimately determine whether the project receives support, funding and becomes implemented. How then to write such a convincing business case?
How to write a compelling business case? – table of contents:
- Why pursue this project? Clearly define the business n–eed
- What will we do? Describe the scope of the project
- How will we work? Outline the schedule
- How much will it cost? Prepare a cost-benefit analysis
- Is the goal worth the effort? Enlist the desired outcomes
The definition of a business case in the latest PMBOK is very broad. It reads as follows:
“A business case is a value proposition for a proposed project that may include financial and non-financial benefits.”
From such a short explanation it is difficult to deduce how to prepare a document that is convincing to stakeholders. So what kind of business case to write for the planned project?
The business case requires utmost clarity. Therefore, a great idea to start with is to try to explain it as if you were speaking to a child – real or imagined – about what our venture will be about. Why do we want to do the project and what do we want to do? How are we going to accomplish it and to who is our target?
Why is this project worth pursuing? Clearly define the business need
The first step toward a good business case is to clearly define the need that the project’s purpose addresses and the business benefit to the organization. In other words, it is an answer to the question of why to implement the project.
To answer them, we need to prepare:
- preliminary business requirements,
- detailed information on goals and objectives,
- an outline of the future state of the organization that benefited by achieving the goal.
The Project Manager will enter details of the business need into the project charter after the initial stakeholder approval and the decision to move the project into the planning phase.
What will we do? Describe the scope of the project
The next step is to present the scope of the project. The justification for it must understandably link the tasks planned to perform with the business need. In this way, it explains why the project is worth pursuing. You need to convince stakeholders convinced that the business need is worth the investment and urgent, so addressed at this time.
It is also worth mentioning, the technical solutions and innovations we intend to employ. If we take on advanced solutions and specialized apparatus or software, our rationale will gain clarity when we explain the basic concepts and avoid jargon.
How will we work? Outline the schedule
Now, it’s time to outline the project’s work schedule. You have to mention milestones here, describing in one or two sentences the expected results. This will allow stakeholders to understand not only the scope, but also how the project will be implemented. It will also give an immediate idea of the size of the team and the time needed to achieve the first results of our project.
How much will it cost? Prepare a cost-benefit analysis
Providing a cost analysis allows stakeholders to make a decision on project financing. It should present as accurately as possible:
- the total amount – based on a sound analysis of the costs and required resources associated with the project,
- sub-amounts by milestones or years if implementing a long-term project.
Although the business case only requires general amounts, you will need detailed financial data and analysis at later stages of the project life cycle. Therefore, it is worth preparing estimates at the very beginning, so that stakeholders know that the Project Manager is familiar with the costs of implementing the project.
Is the goal worth the effort put in? Enlist the desired outcomes
The final step is to put down the desired outcomes of the project. This is a concise vision of the future state, clearly describing the benefits to each stakeholder group. You should keep it:
- with visuals containing data and desired outcomes,
Bear in mind the implications concerning the last point, as the project team’s activities will come under scrutiny during implementation and will be compared to the established desired outcomes of the project. If they are ambitious but cautious enough, you will safely meet them and the project will remain in line with the needs and produce the intended results.
A compelling business case should include: a clearly defined business need, project scope, timeline, cost-benefit analysis and desired outcome.
Presenting a business case effectively communicates the value of the project to stakeholders. As the PMBOK states, “desired outcomes should be clearly described, iteratively evaluated and updated throughout the project.” Therefore, Project Managers should regularly evaluate the project from a business case perspective throughout the project. In this way, they can most easily ensure that it remains aligned with the needs and is moving toward the goal agreed upon with stakeholders.
Getting started with project management:
- What is a project?
- What is project management?
- How to manage projects?
- Project management methods
- Types of projects
- 4 examples of projects
- Prioritization of projects
- Areas of project activity
- Definition of success in project management
- Why use project management software?
- How to choose the best project management software?
- Overview of project management software
- Project life cycle
- What is the project vision for?
- Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
- Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
- The domain of planning in project management
- What is a project schedule and what is it for?
- How to use milestones in a project?
- Project execution
- How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
- Importance of project closure
- Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
- 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
- Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
- Most useful project manager skills
- How to become a project manager?
- 5 books every project manager should read
- How to set up a project team?
- Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
- How to lead a team during hybrid work?
- Challenges project managers face when working with a team
- Types of project meetings
- Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
- How to write a compelling
- How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
- Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
- Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
- How to create a project charter?
- What is a stakeholder register?
- Gantt chart in project management planning
- How to create a project budget?
- Time management in project
- How to create a project risk register?
- Project risk management strategies
- Project marketing
- Sources and areas of change in the project
- Project management change models
- What's after Agile? Methods in project management