shouldn't write a business case

5 people who shouldn’t write a business case

Ever been in a meeting and watched someone have a profound realisation? His realisation was that the reason his sectors projects fail is because the wrong people are writing the business cases.  I could easily identify from my own experience of five people who shouldn’t write a business case. This also got me thinking about this very issue of who is the best person to write the business case?

I’d like to explore this by taking a look at the people that I currently see write business cases:

The Business Analyst

You would think that a Business Analyst would be in a good position to write a business case. Their role in analysing the business processes and developing requirements for the proposed project provides them with knowledge.

Business Analysts are usually from outside the business area wanting the change. They therefore don’t fully understand the issues that exist.  They are also not in the place to understand the driving needs of the business. Or, in other words, the real reason for the business case.

The Project Manager

The Project Manager (PM) often does not belong to the business area that owns the change initiative.   They may or may not have written business cases before.  They will be looking for input from knowledgeable Subject Matter Experts from the business in order to fully capture what the business needs are around why there is a need to write the business case.

They have a vested interest in writing a business case because they can shape what they see as ‘their project’ during the writing phase.  This means that they can make the ‘project’ as complicated or simple as they want and deliver the outcomes written in the business case to match this.

The Policy Maker

Policy makers have a vested interest in writing a business case.  They write it to meet their policy requirements.  The focus is very different to the way that the business actually wants to operate, or function in the future.

These people may have information at a higher level to that of the business owners or key stakeholder themselves, and therefore will try to influence an outcome via the business case.

This can be fraught with disaster as it is not the best approach for change management, which is ensuring that all stakeholders are on the journey with you from the start.

The System Vendor

Whilst I’ve spoken before about why vendors shouldn’t write business requirements I’m putting them in here as a warning for anyone that is considering them writing their business case.

An External Consultant

External consultants are the furthest away from the actual business.  They might be very good at their jobs and have a lot of knowledge, but unless they spend quality time with the business and write the business case having interviewed and spoken to a number of key stakeholders and business SME’s the business case is going to be too high level.

Consultants also have a vested interest in writing the business case a specific way. There is a possibility of further work for them, or their organisation, if the business case is approved.

Who is the right person or people TO write the business case?

A business case must be written by the business.  Someone that works in the day to day operations of the business. A person that understands the business needs, and  who has the ability to tap into the strategic level of the organisation. They also need to understand the connection with the change required.

The business case must be written with the right level of detail and from an objective point of view.  The writer should be devoid of bias (as much as possible) and fully open to exploring options that would otherwise not be considered, in order to gain the best outcomes for the business.

The focus should always be on business need, with strong alignment to the success factors if the change described in the business case is enabled.



*Photo image courtesy of Stuart Miles at