tips for writing a business case

5 more tips for writing a strong business case

Here I am going to provide five more tips for writing a business case.  You might like to also read my earlier post on how to write a business case for other useful suggestions.

1.  Don’t copy and paste pieces of information from other sources

Don’t create a business case with pieces from other sources.  This doesn’t work. Especially where that information is from previous business cases.

How can you be certain that the previous information is still valid and current? Time has moved on. Things will have changed.

For example, the structure of the organisation has changed and the dependencies are now different to what they were.

Think! before you cut and paste.  Re-validate the information, then if you think that it is still relevant, work with the information.  Take the time to transcribe it into your own words.

When you read a business case it must flow. Pieces of information shoved into a templatedon’t work.

2.  Have at least a high level set of business requirements captured before you start

Whilst it costs time and money to develop business requirements, it is important that for your business case you really do have a clear picture of what is in and out of scope.  Business requirements – who needs them? explains the value of documenting requirements and how they help set the parameters for your project in the longer term, so it is an important area to get right.

By doing even a quick white board session with the business owner, you will understand what they are wanting or needing to address and gain approval for.  It is no good writing your business case to cover the cost of building a car, when what the business owner really wants is the car and the garage to house it in.

3.  Don’t be afraid to ‘Do Nothing’ or take a stepped approach to reach your outcome

When things are shifting so fast, someone might have a great idea. In twelve months time the whole way the market will operate will be very different.  This is the time to consider if you are better suggesting that the ‘Do Nothing’ option is the best option for the moment.

Seriously consider a stepped approach to get you part way towards your end goal.  This approach will mean not spending huge amounts of time or money.

A tactical option may be more accepted by your funding body.  A good example where this would have worked is where a business case was put up for a big spend in the millions of dollars. Because of the size of the project, and the risk involved it was knocked back.

What the business really needed could have been provided for a far smaller amount of money. This would have provided ‘part’ of the total requirement, which would have then benefited the business in the short term, and been far more acceptable to the financiers.

4. Consider the options of buying a ready made tool that is off the shelf

These days with the IT world the way that it is there are lots of different  options when it comes to standard sorts of business needs and by this I mean – databases, CRM tools, workforce management planning tools, etc. Building your own is not the smartest way to go.

Do your homework.  Remember that if you go down the path of modifying out of the box tools too much, this is going to cost you time and effort, not only in the short term but also longer term too.  You also need to factor in maintenance costs and ongoing upgrades, if you go down this path.

5. Understand how to get your business case over the line

Here I am suggesting that you need to really understand the people who will be signing off the approval of your business case funding.  If the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) is one of those people then I know for certain that his focus area will be the financial aspects and your Return On Investment (ROI) calculations.

If on the other hand you also have to impress the General Manager (GM) of the Sales Team what is he going to want to see?  I would suggest the ‘What’s In It For Me’ aspects of what it will mean for his team.

Know your target audience and ensure that you give them the right level of detail to satisfy their questions.  Doing this will mean you have a better chance of getting your business case approved.

 

Karen