8 Reasons Your Business Case Sucks

Here are eight reasons why I can openly say to you ‘Your Business Case Sucks.’ These 8 reasons are why you are having problems with getting business case sign-off or with successfully delivering a project.

If you are willing to look at each of these eight reasons with an open mind, maybe you can write a stronger business case next time by changing what’s not right.


Episode Notes

Today, I’m going to tell you that your business case, sucks.

How do I know that? Well, here’s eight reasons why I’m telling you your business case sucks.

  1. I know that you won’t have defined the problem or opportunity statement clearly enough.

You will have written down some waffly description of what you think the project is about, and not really defined the problem. And what the project would fix or the opportunity that’s going to be taken up. So it sucks because you’re not clear about the problem or opportunity that’s being addressed by your project.

2. The second reason is you are sure to have left out key financial costings. How do I know that? Because most people do.

All you want to do is get this stupid business case finished and filed, done and dusted, and just have someone say “Yes, start the project” because that means you get to do what you want to do in manage a project.

Okay! You have a deliverable. Okay! You have a team. Okay! You have a timeline and then you find that you don’t really have enough money to do what you’re supposed to be doing? Oh, well, so what? Just go back and ask them for more money. See, I told you, you’re sure to have left out key financial costings.

3. The third reason that I know it sucks is because you won’t have included all options that are available. You probably just put in there the very basics, again, in order to get the document completed.You might have put two or three, but you know, it’s like I said, it’s more to fill the space rather than really be clear about what options are truly available to you to solve this business problem or take up this business opportunity. And, you won’t have included all the options that are available in order to make the change required for the business. So there’s reason number three.

4. Reason number four, you don’t have assumptions listed. You probably haven’t even thought about them, because they’re not important, are they? Not really. I mean assumptions, what are they? The things that I THINK are facts. The things that I think should happen; the things that I think, are going to work in a certain way.

Why would I want to list those in my Business Case, because I know it’s going to work out somehow. We’ll just make it all work, so what’s the problem? See, another good reason why I’m saying your business case sucks.

5. Reason number five. You will have been afraid to call out any key risks that you identified. Maybe you haven’t identified any risks at all. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? And I’ve seen many business cases just like that. Yeah. And they suck.

So you’ve been afraid to call out those key risks because it might jeopardize the fact that there is even a project. It might be the one thing, the one risk, the key risk that’s there that might have your business owner or project sponsors say, “Oh, this is too much of a risk, so we’re not going to do the project.”

Absolutely don’t include it in your business case will you? I mean, no, definitely do not do that, because then you won’t get to manage a project. See, I told you, your business case sucks.

6. Now, the next reason is you have added in too much contingency, just in case. Of course. This is the clever thing that you do when you haven’t done your financial assessment correctly. You haven’t really looked at all of the costings and what’s needed, and so the best thing to do is to just throw in a big bucket of contingency because you know that you’re going to have to dive into it and it’s the safest way of knowing that you’ve got money there, isn’t it?

Well, it sucks. It’s not the right way to do your financials for a business case.

7. Next reason. You won’t have tied together the case for change. You know what I mean here, I mean this is really just some document that you need to have put together to make it look like you understand what’s going on; to make it look like there’s going to be a business change; to make it look like the business owner’s going to get something out of this.

So, you can be a bit waffly or a bit indirect or not clear and not include things, and it doesn’t really matter because bottom line is, once this gets approved and the project starts, what happens to the business case? It just gets thrown in the bottom drawer and nobody ever looks at it.

Therefore you don’t really, need to tie everything together to make sure that there really, truly is a strong case for change by completing this project. Or show your sponsor or your business owner how you are going to deliver the change for the business in the way that the business wants to deliver the outcome for the business.

After all projects are about the business aren’t they? Oh no, that’s right, no, they’re not. They’re really just about you having a job and being paid to do your job on a daily basis. Right?

8. The last reason, I’m going to say that your business case sucks, is that it’s too much of a sales document to be a real business case. Yeah. Like, why don’t I just sell them, this software because the vendors have come and told me that it’s brilliant and it does this and it does that and it does something else, and I like the idea.

So let’s just make this a sales documents so that the business sees that, yeah, taking up this particular piece of software is going to work, it’s going to fix all their problems and the vendor’s going to know what to do.

Wrong answer! Your business case sucks because it’s not a business case at all. Your document is a sales proposal. It’s not a real business case, so don’t even imagine that what you’ve created is a business case.

A business case really states the case for change. It understands and describes the problem that’s to be addressed, clearly. It talks about the opportunity that’s going to be taken up and then it clearly documents piece by piece, that all adds together, how a project delivered based on the specific option, with specific outcomes and deliverables and benefits, is going to benefit the business and create the proper change that the business is looking for.

That’s a real business case. But your so called business case is just a sales proposal, a sales document. That’s why I know your business case sucks.

How many of these things are ringing true with you? How many of these things that I’ve mentioned, of these eight things is exactly what happens in your business case? I think I have every right to tell you that your business case sucks. That you don’t know how to write a really strong business case.

Oh, and if you really want to change that by understanding how to write a strong business case, maybe you might want to check out my downloadable ebook ‘How to Write a Strong Business Case‘. It’s got a step by step process that you can follow, and simple guidelines and checks for you to have in place so that you can validate whether what you’re writing and what you have in your business case makes the strong case to the business for the change.

There’s also a whole page of tips and suggestions and links. If you need help, reach out. I’m always here to support you to make your life easier.