Why should a business case be written?
The most obvious reason for putting together a business case is to justify the resources and capital investment necessary to bring a change project to fruition. However, this implies that the business case is simply a financial document. While all business cases should include financial justification, it should not be the only purpose of the document.
The business case is the one place where all relevant facts are documented and linked together into a cohesive story. This story tells people about the what, when, where, how and why.
Why is the project needed (issues & opportunities)?
How will the effort solve the issues or opportunities facing the organization?
What is the recommended solution(s)?
How does the solution address the issues or opportunities (benefits)?
What will happen to the business if the BPR effort is not undertaken (the do nothing scenario)?
When will the solutions be deployed
How much money, people, and time will be needed to deliver the solution and realize the benefits?
What are the three roles of a business case?
The writing of the business case forces the team to sit back and reflect on all of the work they have so diligently completed. It is far too easy for the team to continue to plug away toward the end result and fail to document the work they’ve already accomplished. This is especially true during the concept and design stages of any project. Therefore, the business case serves as a wake-up call to the team causing them to capture the knowledge they’ve developed about how the business will function both with and without the final solution.
The second role of the business case is to verify that the solution substantiates or meets the needs of the business, and is the vehicle for receiving funding and approval to move forward. It provides a vehicle for the team to step back and subjectively review their facts and assumptions. In addition, it is vital that the team document what would happen to the business if the project is not undertaken. This base case or “do nothing” scenario is the foundation upon which all benefits from the effort are derived. By documenting everything together in one story, it is easy to link the issues to the solution and the benefit, and identify where the business would be without the project. The development of the overall business case simplifies the development of the financial justification, and will usually identify holes or problems with the solution. Moreover, you now have a way to measure your success. This analysis also is useful for your leadership team to prioritize this project against the many other initiatives in the business that may require capital investment.
The final important role that the business case plays is to provide a consistent message to many different audiences. It is a high level view of the entire project and enables all organizations affected by the effort (customers, management, operations, research & development, service, sales, accounting, finance, etc.) to be knowledgeable about the project.
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