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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)
Table of Contents
What is a business case, how to write a business case, business case template, watch our business case training video, key elements of a business case, how projectmanager helps with your business case.
A business case is a project management document that explains how the benefits of a project overweigh its costs and why it should be executed. Business cases are prepared during the project initiation phase and their purpose is to include all the project’s objectives, costs and benefits to convince stakeholders of its value.
A business case is an important project document to prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the project proposal you’re pitching is a sound investment. Below, we illustrate the steps to writing one that will sway them.
The need for a business case is that it collects the financial appraisal, proposal, strategy and marketing plan in one document and offers a full look at how the project will benefit the organization. Once your business case is approved by the project stakeholders, you can begin the project planning phase.
Projects fail without having a solid business case to rest on, as this project document is the base for the project charter and project plan. But if a project business case is not anchored to reality, and doesn’t address a need that aligns with the larger business objectives of the organization, then it is irrelevant.
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Use this free Business Case Template for Word to manage your projects better.
The research you’ll need to create a strong business case is the why, what, how and who of your project. This must be clearly communicated. The elements of your business case will address the why but in greater detail. Think of the business case as a document that is created during the project initiation phase but will be used as a reference throughout the project life cycle.
Whether you’re starting a new project or mid-way through one, take time to write up a business case to justify the project expenditure by identifying the business benefits your project will deliver and that your stakeholders are most interested in reaping from the work. The following four steps will show you how to write a business case.
Step 1: Identify the Business Problem
Projects aren’t created for projects’ sake. They should always be aligned with business goals . Usually, they’re initiated to solve a specific business problem or create a business opportunity.
You should “Lead with the need.” Your first job is to figure out what that problem or opportunity is, describe it, find out where it comes from and then address the time frame needed to deal with it.
This can be a simple statement but is best articulated with some research into the economic climate and the competitive landscape to justify the timing of the project.
Step 2: Identify the Alternative Solutions
How do you know whether the project you’re undertaking is the best possible solution to the problem defined above? Naturally, prioritizing projects is hard, and the path to success is not paved with unfounded assumptions.
One way to narrow down the focus to make the right solution clear is to follow these six steps (after the relevant research, of course):
- Note the alternative solutions.
- For each solution, quantify its benefits.
- Also, forecast the costs involved in each solution.
- Then figure out its feasibility .
- Discern the risks and issues associated with each solution.
- Finally, document all this in your business case.
Step 3: Recommend a Preferred Solution
You’ll next need to rank the solutions, but before doing that it’s best to set up criteria, maybe have a scoring mechanism such as a decision matrix to help you prioritize the solutions to best choose the right one.
Some methodologies you can apply include:
- Depending on the solution’s cost and benefit , give it a score of 1-10.
- Base your score on what’s important to you.
- Add more complexity to your ranking to cover all bases.
Regardless of your approach, once you’ve added up your numbers, the best solution to your problem will become evident. Again, you’ll want to have this process also documented in your business case.
Step 4: Describe the Implementation Approach
So, you’ve identified your business problem or opportunity and how to reach it, now you have to convince your stakeholders that you’re right and have the best way to implement a process to achieve your goals. That’s why documentation is so important; it offers a practical path to solve the core problem you identified.
Now, it’s not just an exercise to appease senior leadership. Who knows what you might uncover in the research you put into exploring the underlying problem and determining alternative solutions? You might save the organization millions with an alternate solution than the one initially proposed. When you put in the work on a strong business case, you’re able to get your sponsors or organizational leadership on board with you and have a clear vision as to how to ensure the delivery of the business benefits they expect.
Our business case template for Word is the perfect tool to start writing a business case. It has 9 key business case areas you can customize as needed. Download the template for free and follow the steps below to create a great business case for all your projects.
One of the key steps to starting a business case is to have a business case checklist. The following is a detailed outline to follow when developing your business case. You can choose which of these elements are the most relevant to your project stakeholders and add them to our business case template. Then once your business case is approved, start managing your projects with a robust project management software such as ProjectManager.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is a short version of each section of your business case. It’s used to give stakeholders a quick overview of your project.
2. Project Definition
This section is meant to provide general information about your projects, such as the business objectives that will be achieved and the project plan outline.
3. Vision, Goals and Objectives
First, you have to figure out what you’re trying to do and what is the problem you want to solve. You’ll need to define your project vision, goals and objectives. This will help you shape your project scope and identify project deliverables.
4. Project Scope
The project scope determines all the tasks and deliverables that will be executed in your project to reach your business objectives.
5. Background Information
Here you can provide a context for your project, explaining the problem that it’s meant to solve, and how it aligns with your organization’s vision and strategic plan.
6. Success Criteria and Stakeholder Requirements
Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, the quality requirements will differ, but they are critical to the project’s success. Collect all of them, figure out what determines if you’ve successfully met them and report on the results .
7. Project Plan
It’s time to create the project plan. Figure out the tasks you’ll have to take to get the project done. You can use a work breakdown structure template to make sure you are through. Once you have all the tasks collected, estimate how long it will take to complete each one.
Project management software makes creating a project plan significantly easier. ProjectManager can upload your work breakdown structure template and all your tasks are populated in our tool. You can organize them according to your production cycle with our kanban board view, or use our Gantt chart view to create a project schedule.
8. Project Budget
Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.
9. Project Schedule
Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed. For a more impactful project schedule , use a tool to make a Gantt chart, and print it out. This will provide that extra flourish of data visualization and skill that Excel sheets lack.
10. Project Governance
Project governance refers to all the project management rules and procedures that apply to your project. For example, it defines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members and the framework for decision-making.
11. Communication Plan
Have milestones for check-ins and status updates, as well as determine how stakeholders will stay aware of the progress over the project life cycle.
12. Progress Reports
Have a plan in place to monitor and track your progress during the project to compare planned to actual progress. There are project tracking tools that can help you monitor progress and performance.
Again, using a project management tool improves your ability to see what’s happening in your project. ProjectManager has tracking tools like dashboards and status reports that give you a high-level view and more detail, respectively. Unlike light-weight apps that make you set up a dashboard, ours is embedded in the tool. Better still, our cloud-based software gives you real-time data for more insightful decision-making. Also, get reports on more than just status updates, but timesheets, workload, portfolio status and much more, all with just one click. Then filter the reports and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.
13. Financial Appraisal
This is a very important section of your business case because this is where you explain how the financial benefits outweigh the project costs . Compare the financial costs and benefits of your project. You can do this by doing a sensitivity analysis and a cost-benefit analysis.
14. Market Assessment
Research your market, competitors and industry, to find opportunities and threats
15. Competitor Analysis
Identify direct and indirect competitors and do an assessment of their products, strengths, competitive advantages and their business strategy.
16. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis helps you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while the opportunities and threats are external.
17. Marketing Strategy
Describe your product, distribution channels, pricing, target customers among other aspects of your marketing plan or strategy.
18. Risk Assessment
There are many risk categories that can impact your project. The first step to mitigating them is to identify and analyze the risks associated with your project activities.
ProjectManager , an award-winning project management software, can collect and assemble all the various data you’ll be collecting, and then easily share it both with your team and project sponsors.
Once you have a spreadsheet with all your tasks listed, you can import it into our software. Then it’s instantly populated into a Gantt chart . Simply set the duration for each of the tasks, add any dependencies, and your project is now spread across a timeline. You can set milestones, but there is so much more you can do.
You have a project plan now, and from the online Gantt chart, you can assign team members to tasks. Then they can comment directly on the tasks they’re working on, adding as many documents and images as needed, fostering a collaborative environment. You can track their progress and change task durations as needed by dragging and dropping the start and end dates.
But that’s only a taste of what ProjectManager offers. We have kanban boards that visualize your workflow and a real-time dashboard that tracks six project metrics for the most accurate view of your project possible.
Try ProjectManager and see for yourself with this 30-day free trial .
If you want more business case advice, take a moment to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, in this short training video. She explains the steps you have to take in order to write a good business case.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference.
Today we’re talking about how to write a business case. Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen the market, or maybe organizations, companies or even projects, move away from doing business cases. But, these days, companies, organizations, and those same projects are scrutinizing the investments and they’re really seeking a rate of return.
So now, think of the business case as your opportunity to package your project, your idea, your opportunity, and show what it means and what the benefits are and how other people can benefit.
We want to take a look today to see what’s in the business case and how to write one. I want to be clear that when you look for information on a business case, it’s not a briefcase.
Someone called the other day and they were confused because they were looking for something, and they kept pulling up briefcases. That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about are business cases, and they include information about your strategies, about your goals. It is your business proposal. It has your business outline, your business strategy, and even your marketing plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Case?
And so, why is that so important today? Again, companies are seeking not only their project managers but their team members to have a better understanding of business and more of an idea business acumen. So this business case provides the justification for the proposed business change or plan. It outlines the allocation of capital that you may be seeking and the resources required to implement it. Then, it can be an action plan . It may just serve as a unified vision. And then it also provides the decision-makers with different options.
So let’s look more at the steps required to put these business cases together. There are four main steps. One, you want to research your market. Really look at what’s out there, where are the needs, where are the gaps that you can serve? Look at your competition. How are they approaching this, and how can you maybe provide some other alternatives?
You want to compare and finalize different approaches that you can use to go to market. Then you compile that data and you present strategies, your goals and other options to be considered.
And then you literally document it.
So what does the document look like? Well, there are templates out there today. The components vary, but these are the common ones. And then these are what I consider essential. So there’s the executive summary. This is just a summary of your company, what your management team may look like, a summary of your product and service and your market.
The business description gives a little bit more history about your company and the mission statement and really what your company is about and how this product or service fits in.
Then, you outline the details of the product or service that you’re looking to either expand or roll out or implement. You may even include in their patents may be that you have pending or other trademarks.
Then, you want to identify and lay out your marketing strategy. Like, how are you gonna take this to your customers? Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar store? Are you gonna do this online? And, what are your plans to take it to market?
You also want to include detailed information about your competitor analysis. How are they doing things? And, how are you planning on, I guess, beating your competition?
You also want to look at and identify your SWOT. And the SWOT is your strength. What are the strengths that you have in going to market? And where are the weaknesses? Maybe some of your gaps. And further, where are your opportunities and maybe threats that you need to plan for? Then the overview of the operation includes operational information like your production, even human resources, information about the day-to-day operations of your company.
And then, your financial plan includes your profit statement, your profit and loss, any of your financials, any collateral that you may have, and any kind of investments that you may be seeking.
So these are the components of your business case. This is why it’s so important. And if you need a tool that can help you manage and track this process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager .
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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template
Updated: October 10, 2023
Published: January 12, 2023
Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a struggle. Before you can even begin to expect to earn their business, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on what your product or service promises.
Sure, you could say that you're great at X or that you're way ahead of the competition when it comes to Y. But at the end of the day, what you really need to win new business is cold, hard proof.
One of the best ways to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. In fact, HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so compelling that they are the fifth most commonly used type of content used by marketers.
Below, I'll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what you need to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic. To jump to different areas of this post, click on the links below to automatically scroll.
Case Study Definition
Case study templates, how to write a case study.
- How to Format a Case Study
Business Case Study Examples
A case study is a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they've chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.
In professional settings, it's common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client. Perhaps the success you're highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company's services in action.
When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers and help you attract new clients.
Free Case Study Templates
Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.
- Data-Driven Case Study Template
- Product-Specific Case Study Template
- General Case Study Template
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Why write a case study?
I know, you’re thinking “ Okay, but why do I need to write one of these? ” The truth is that while case studies are a huge undertaking, they are powerful marketing tools that allow you to demonstrate the value of your product to potential customers using real-world examples. Here are a few reasons why you should write case studies.
1. Explain Complex Topics or Concepts
Case studies give you the space to break down complex concepts, ideas, and strategies and show how they can be applied in a practical way. You can use real-world examples, like an existing client, and use their story to create a compelling narrative that shows how your product solved their issue and how those strategies can be repeated to help other customers get similar successful results.
2. Show Expertise
Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on a given topic or industry. This is where you get the opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills and how you’ve generated successful outcomes for clients you’ve worked with.
3. Build Trust and Credibility
In addition to showing off the attributes above, case studies are an excellent way to build credibility. They’re often filled with data and thoroughly researched, which shows readers you’ve done your homework. They can have confidence in the solutions you’ve presented because they’ve read through as you’ve explained the problem and outlined step-by-step what it took to solve it. All of these elements working together enable you to build trust with potential customers.
4. Create Social Proof
Using existing clients that have seen success working with your brand builds social proof . People are more likely to choose your brand if they know that others have found success working with you. Case studies do just that — putting your success on display for potential customers to see.
All of these attributes work together to help you gain more clients. Plus you can even use quotes from customers featured in these studies and repurpose them in other marketing content. Now that you know more about the benefits of producing a case study, let’s check out how long these documents should be.
How long should a case study be?
The length of a case study will vary depending on the complexity of the project or topic discussed. However, as a general guideline, case studies typically range from 500 to 1,500 words.
Whatever length you choose, it should provide a clear understanding of the challenge, the solution you implemented, and the results achieved. This may be easier said than done, but it's important to strike a balance between providing enough detail to make the case study informative and concise enough to keep the reader's interest.
The primary goal here is to effectively communicate the key points and takeaways of the case study. It’s worth noting that this shouldn’t be a wall of text. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, charts, and other graphics to break up the content and make it more scannable for readers. We’ve also seen brands incorporate video elements into case studies listed on their site for a more engaging experience.
Ultimately, the length of your case study should be determined by the amount of information necessary to convey the story and its impact without becoming too long. Next, let’s look at some templates to take the guesswork out of creating one.
To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, we've put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates for creating your own.
Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today:
And to give you more options, we’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs. But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done.
1. General Case Study Template
Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product Specific case study template will help.
This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction. As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.
4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template
You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.
In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service. Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.
5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template
It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced. A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.
If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.
Now that we’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.
- Get started with case study templates.
- Determine the case study's objective.
- Establish a case study medium.
- Find the right case study candidate.
- Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
- Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
- Download a case study email template.
- Define the process you want to follow with the client.
- Ensure you're asking the right questions.
- Layout your case study format.
- Publish and promote your case study.
1. Get started with case study templates.
Telling your customer's story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.
If you're just getting started with case studies, we recommend you download HubSpot's Case Study Templates we mentioned before to kickstart the process.
2. Determine the case study's objective.
All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.
Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you're featuring. In other words, what will the client have succeeded in doing by the end of the piece?
The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.
Your case study can focus on one of the following client objectives:
- Complying with government regulation
- Lowering business costs
- Becoming profitable
- Generating more leads
- Closing on more customers
- Generating more revenue
- Expanding into a new market
- Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient
3. Establish a case study medium.
Next, you'll determine the medium in which you'll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?
Case studies don't have to be simple, written one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels. For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel.
Here are some different case study mediums to consider:
Written Case Study
Consider writing this case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form for readers to fill out before downloading the piece, allowing this case study to generate leads for your business.
Video Case Study
Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers.
Infographic Case Study
Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom. As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.
Podcast Case Study
Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they'll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.
4. Find the right case study candidate.
Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story. You need permission, quotes, and a plan. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.
It helps to select a customer who's well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, he or she can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense for future customers.
Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they're more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want prospects to feel, too.
One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced unexpected success from your product or service. When you've provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don't usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.
While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own. In fact, 89% of consumers say they'll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.
Customers that came to you after working with a competitor help highlight your competitive advantage and might even sway decisions in your favor.
5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication. That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having those is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.
Most importantly at this point, however, is getting your subject's approval. When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study's objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in the first two steps above.
To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study? Although you're writing this for your own company's benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them.
Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate
Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.
Explain to your subject to whom this case study will be exposed, and how this exposure can help increase their brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry. In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one's own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name's reach.
Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees. When this is an option for them, their brand isn't the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too. This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.
This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they're a current customer of yours. If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank-you for their help creating your case study.
Backlinks and Website Traffic
Here's a benefit that is sure to resonate with your subject's marketing team: If you publish your case study on your website, and your study links back to your subject's website — known as a "backlink" — this small gesture can give them website traffic from visitors who click through to your subject's website.
Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject's page authority in the eyes of Google. This helps them rank more highly in search engine results and collect traffic from readers who are already looking for information about their industry.
6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
So you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, it’s time that you prepare the resources needed for if and when they agree to participate, like a case study release form and success story letter.
Let's break those two down.
Case Study Release Form
This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case studies once they are completed. That said, you should typically aim to include the following in the Case Study Release Form:
- A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
- A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
- An explanation of what you expect from the participant, beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback, and do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
- A note about compensation.
Success Story Letter
As noted in the sample email, this document serves as an outline for the entire case study process. Other than a brief explanation of how the customer will benefit from case study participation, you'll want to be sure to define the following steps in the Success Story Letter.
7. Download a case study email template.
While you gathered your resources, your candidate has gotten time to read over the proposal. When your candidate approves of your case study, it's time to send them a release form.
A case study release form tells you what you'll need from your chosen subject, like permission to use any brand names and share the project information publicly. Kick-off this process with an email that runs through exactly what they can expect from you, as well as what you need from them. To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email:
8. Define the process you want to follow with the client.
Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.
First, you'll need to receive internal approval from the company's marketing team. Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It's also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.
To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you'll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation. That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.
Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview, which should include a series of custom questions related to the customer's experience with your product or service.
The Draft Review
After the case study is composed, you'll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.
The Final Approval
Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.
Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it's best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives. Don't be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.
9. Ensure you're asking the right questions.
Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you're setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions. What do those look like? Here are a few examples to get you started:
- What are your goals?
- What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
- What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
- What did your decision-making process look like?
- How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)
Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview. And once you get to that stage, we recommend that you follow the "Golden Rule of Interviewing." Sounds fancy, right? It's actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.
If you're looking to craft a compelling story, "yes" or "no" answers won't provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, "Can you describe ...?" or, "Tell me about ..."
In terms of the interview structure, we recommend categorizing the questions and flowing them into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they'll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.
Open with the customer's business.
The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company's current challenges and goals, and how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many employees do you have?
- What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?
Cite a problem or pain point.
To tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer's need with your solution. Sample questions might include:
- What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
- What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
- Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?
Discuss the decision process.
Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. Sample questions might include:
- How did you hear about our product or service?
- Who was involved in the selection process?
- What was most important to you when evaluating your options?
Explain how a solution was implemented.
The focus here should be placed on the customer's experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:
- How long did it take to get up and running?
- Did that meet your expectations?
- Who was involved in the process?
Explain how the solution works.
The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:
- Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
- Who is using the product or service?
End with the results.
In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:
- How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
- In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
- How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?
10. Lay out your case study format.
When it comes time to take all of the information you've collected and actually turn it into something, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What's the best way to structure it?
To help you get a handle on this step, it's important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study. They can be very visual, which you'll see in some of the examples we've included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text.
Here are the sections we suggest, which we'll cover in more detail down below:
- Title: Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
- Subtitle: Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
- Executive Summary : A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You'll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
- About the Subject: An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
- Challenges and Objectives: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer's challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
- How Product/Service Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
- Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
- Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
- Future Plans: Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what's ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
- Call to Action (CTA): Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you've gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.
11. Publish and promote your case study.
Once you've completed your case study, it's time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.
But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:
Lead Gen in a Blog Post
As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client's success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they'd like to read the rest in your PDF.
Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.
Published as a Page on Your Website
As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.
Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a "Case Studies" or "Testimonials" button along your homepage's top navigation bar.
Format for a Case Study
The traditional case study format includes the following parts: a title and subtitle, a client profile, a summary of the customer’s challenges and objectives, an account of how your solution helped, and a description of the results. You might also want to include supporting visuals and quotes, future plans, and calls-to-action.
The title is one of the most important parts of your case study. It should draw readers in while succinctly describing the potential benefits of working with your company. To that end, your title should:
- State the name of your custome r. Right away, the reader must learn which company used your products and services. This is especially important if your customer has a recognizable brand. If you work with individuals and not companies, you may omit the name and go with professional titles: “A Marketer…”, “A CFO…”, and so forth.
- State which product your customer used . Even if you only offer one product or service, or if your company name is the same as your product name, you should still include the name of your solution. That way, readers who are not familiar with your business can become aware of what you sell.
- Allude to the results achieved . You don’t necessarily need to provide hard numbers, but the title needs to represent the benefits, quickly. That way, if a reader doesn’t stay to read, they can walk away with the most essential information: Your product works.
The example above, “Crunch Fitness Increases Leads and Signups With HubSpot,” achieves all three — without being wordy. Keeping your title short and sweet is also essential.
Your subtitle is another essential part of your case study — don’t skip it, even if you think you’ve done the work with the title. In this section, include a brief summary of the challenges your customer was facing before they began to use your products and services. Then, drive the point home by reiterating the benefits your customer experienced by working with you.
The above example reads:
“Crunch Fitness was franchising rapidly when COVID-19 forced fitness clubs around the world to close their doors. But the company stayed agile by using HubSpot to increase leads and free trial signups.”
We like that the case study team expressed the urgency of the problem — opening more locations in the midst of a pandemic — and placed the focus on the customer’s ability to stay agile.
3. Executive Summary
The executive summary should provide a snapshot of your customer, their challenges, and the benefits they enjoyed from working with you. Think it’s too much? Think again — the purpose of the case study is to emphasize, again and again, how well your product works.
The good news is that depending on your design, the executive summary can be mixed with the subtitle or with the “About the Company” section. Many times, this section doesn’t need an explicit “Executive Summary” subheading. You do need, however, to provide a convenient snapshot for readers to scan.
In the above example, ADP included information about its customer in a scannable bullet-point format, then provided two sections: “Business Challenge” and “How ADP Helped.” We love how simple and easy the format is to follow for those who are unfamiliar with ADP or its typical customer.
4. About the Company
Readers need to know and understand who your customer is. This is important for several reasons: It helps your reader potentially relate to your customer, it defines your ideal client profile (which is essential to deter poor-fit prospects who might have reached out without knowing they were a poor fit), and it gives your customer an indirect boon by subtly promoting their products and services.
Feel free to keep this section as simple as possible. You can simply copy and paste information from the company’s LinkedIn, use a quote directly from your customer, or take a more creative storytelling approach.
In the above example, HubSpot included one paragraph of description for Crunch Fitness and a few bullet points. Below, ADP tells the story of its customer using an engaging, personable technique that effectively draws readers in.
5. Challenges and Objectives
The challenges and objectives section of your case study is the place to lay out, in detail, the difficulties your customer faced prior to working with you — and what they hoped to achieve when they enlisted your help.
In this section, you can be as brief or as descriptive as you’d like, but remember: Stress the urgency of the situation. Don’t understate how much your customer needed your solution (but don’t exaggerate and lie, either). Provide contextual information as necessary. For instance, the pandemic and societal factors may have contributed to the urgency of the need.
Take the above example from design consultancy IDEO:
“Educational opportunities for adults have become difficult to access in the United States, just when they’re needed most. To counter this trend, IDEO helped the city of South Bend and the Drucker Institute launch Bendable, a community-powered platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other.”
We love how IDEO mentions the difficulties the United States faces at large, the efforts its customer is taking to address these issues, and the steps IDEO took to help.
6. How Product/Service Helped
This is where you get your product or service to shine. Cover the specific benefits that your customer enjoyed and the features they gleaned the most use out of. You can also go into detail about how you worked with and for your customer. Maybe you met several times before choosing the right solution, or you consulted with external agencies to create the best package for them.
Whatever the case may be, try to illustrate how easy and pain-free it is to work with the representatives at your company. After all, potential customers aren’t looking to just purchase a product. They’re looking for a dependable provider that will strive to exceed their expectations.
In the above example, IDEO describes how it partnered with research institutes and spoke with learners to create Bendable, a free educational platform. We love how it shows its proactivity and thoroughness. It makes potential customers feel that IDEO might do something similar for them.
The results are essential, and the best part is that you don’t need to write the entirety of the case study before sharing them. Like HubSpot, IDEO, and ADP, you can include the results right below the subtitle or executive summary. Use data and numbers to substantiate the success of your efforts, but if you don’t have numbers, you can provide quotes from your customers.
We can’t overstate the importance of the results. In fact, if you wanted to create a short case study, you could include your title, challenge, solution (how your product helped), and result.
8. Supporting Visuals or Quotes
Let your customer speak for themselves by including quotes from the representatives who directly interfaced with your company.
Visuals can also help, even if they’re stock images. On one side, they can help you convey your customer’s industry, and on the other, they can indirectly convey your successes. For instance, a picture of a happy professional — even if they’re not your customer — will communicate that your product can lead to a happy client.
In this example from IDEO, we see a man standing in a boat. IDEO’s customer is neither the man pictured nor the manufacturer of the boat, but rather Conservation International, an environmental organization. This imagery provides a visually pleasing pattern interrupt to the page, while still conveying what the case study is about.
9. Future Plans
This is optional, but including future plans can help you close on a more positive, personable note than if you were to simply include a quote or the results. In this space, you can show that your product will remain in your customer’s tech stack for years to come, or that your services will continue to be instrumental to your customer’s success.
Alternatively, if you work only on time-bound projects, you can allude to the positive impact your customer will continue to see, even after years of the end of the contract.
10. Call to Action (CTA)
Not every case study needs a CTA, but we’d still encourage it. Putting one at the end of your case study will encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
It will also make it easier for them to reach out, if they’re ready to start immediately. You don’t want to lose business just because they have to scroll all the way back up to reach out to your team.
To help you visualize this case study outline, check out the case study template below, which can also be downloaded here .
You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you're left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.
To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.
1. "Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization," by HubSpot
What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.
Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So, while case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.
2. "New England Journal of Medicine," by Corey McPherson Nash
When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that's what they do. So in building the case study for the studio's work on the New England Journal of Medicine's integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client's digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.
Notice that the case study does include some light written copy — which includes the major points we've suggested — but lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio's services.
3. "Designing the Future of Urban Farming," by IDEO
Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — "The Challenge" and "The Outcome."
Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study's major pillars. And while that's great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM's challenge — it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.
4. "Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament," by WatchGuard
Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly. Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Boosts Social Media Engagement and Brand Awareness with HubSpot
In the case study above , HubSpot uses photos, videos, screenshots, and helpful stats to tell the story of how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used the bot, CRM, and social media tools to gain brand awareness.
6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello
This case study from Trello is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.
It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.
7. Facebook's Mercedes Benz Success Story
Facebook's Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.
Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it's organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.
Showcasing Your Work
You work hard at what you do. Now, it's time to show it to the world — and, perhaps more important, to potential customers. Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, we hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling good about it.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in July 2021.
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JCU Online Blog
How to write a business case: tips, resources and examples.
In business, resources are finite, and opportunities come at a cost. In pursuing profit and growth, organisations continually ask themselves several questions: What projects should we invest in? What products or services should we offer? How do we best utilise resources? The answers are not simple, and they need to be supported by research, facts, and figures. To facilitate decision-making, research, facts, and data that support certain decisions are presented as a business case.
Business cases are critical pieces of project documentation that outline a business problem and provide options to solve it. The aim of a business case is to convince decision-makers that a particular course of action will result in the best outcome for an organisation.
Business cases need to be created daily within organizations. They have consequences for the individual presenting it, the department and the business at large. As such, it’s critical to understand how to create and present them effectively. Here, you will discover the different types of business cases, how to write a business case and how to present one. You will also find an example of a business case and resources to help you create your own.
Business case basics
Business cases have characteristics that are similar to other types of organisational documentation. Below is information on what business cases are (and what they are not) and the different types of business cases you can produce.
What is a business case?
Every day, hundreds of different projects take place within organisations around the world. Of these projects, many are business-as-usual (BAU). BAU projects are projects the business carries out as part of their everyday activities. Outside of these, there are also special projects that don’t form part of an organisation’s everyday activities but are still critical. These projects may require a business case to be created.
A business case will help decision-makers understand why a special project needs to be completed and how they should do so.
Why create a business case?
Business cases perform two important functions. Firstly, they help organisations understand project options and what each will cost in terms of time, money and opportunities lost or gained.
Secondly, they show decision-makers that there is rigour behind certain courses of action. For example, a business case might show that two IT systems have been analysed but that a certain provider will fit the business’s requirements better. Business cases show that decisions are based on research and facts, as opposed to one person’s opinion. They can help businesses justify their spending, as well as help to protect project leads if something goes wrong.
How is a business case different from a business plan?
Business cases and business plans both help to convince key decision-makers to proceed with a certain course of action. Yet, there are critical differences between a business case and a business plan:
Business cases and project plans both present details of certain projects. Yet, there are important differences:
What are the different types of business cases?
For any business case, there are numerous stakeholders who want to have their say. These stakeholders come from different departments within a business and have different interests in the project. For example, a representative from the finance team might be most interested in whether the business can afford the project, whereas someone from the management team might be more interested in whether his or her team can deliver the project.
Catering to the differing and sometimes conflicting interests that various stakeholders can have requires a sound business case structure. One model that provides this structure is the Five Cases Model, which stipulates that a business case must be presented from five different perspectives: strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management.
How is a business case different from a project plan?
1. the strategic case.
The aim of the strategic case is to make a case for change and show how it strategically aligns with the direction of the business. To do this, you align your project’s goals and objectives with those of the business.
To present the strongest possible strategic case, outline the business problem to be solved, detail the scope of what you are trying to achieve, and describe the benefits and risks. Explain how a particular process, if successful, would contribute positively to the business overall.
2. The Economic Case
The aim of the economic case is to identify which of the options you are presenting provides the best value to the business, including broader considerations, such as social and environmental effects. This is important if you are presenting a case for a project that the public will interact with, such as developing a product or building a structure.
To present the best possible economic case, show that you’ve appraised multiple options (i.e. created a long list), ruled out options based on cost and value (i.e. created a shortlist), and then explored, in detail, what each remaining option provides.
3. The Commercial Case
The commercial case is the next logical step after the economic case. When looking at a project from this perspective, show that you can procure suppliers (or internal resources) and that you can do so fairly and cost-effectively. =
To present the best commercial case, anticipate the resources you need and then factor in any contingencies that might occur within the delivery of the project.
4. The Financial Case
When thinking from a financial case perspective, show that the business can afford to fund the preferred option you are presenting.
To do so, demonstrate that you have analysed the capital, revenue and whole-of-life costs of your preferred option. Do so in a structured manner, such as by using a profit and loss analysis or other financial ratio analysis.
5. The Management Case
Lastly, the management case needs to show managerial stakeholders that adequate plans are in place for the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of your preferred option.
To do this, present a plan for how your preferred option will be project managed in accordance with best practices, and also show that independent assurance is available if required. For example, consider contract management and how to ensure benefits are realised and human resources are used fairly and appropriately.
When considering how to write your business case, the Five Cases Model is useful, as it considers the perspectives of different stakeholders. Using the Five Cases Model will ensure you present a balanced business case and support agreement on your preferred option more quickly.
How to write a business case
Business cases are critical documents within organisations and can steer strategic decision-making. As such, it’s important to understand how to write a business case in a structured, professional manner. Here is a list of what should be included in a business case, followed by a detailed description of each.
- Executive summary
- Background information
- Project definition
- Business Requirements
- Option presentation and evaluation
- Presentation of preferred option
- Strategic alignment
- Project implementation plan
- Financial Analysis
- Resources required
1. Executive summary
Business cases can become hundred-plus-page documents, so it’s important to begin with an executive summary. The executive summary should include a brief description of the business problem, options presented and the preferred option.
2. Background information
Many people will have a stake in your business case, and many may have little or no context for the project. As such, you need to provide background information on the project. Background information might include why the project needs to take place, similar projects that have taken place, and what has happened in the lead up to preparing the business case.
3. Project definition
In this section, outline all of the critical details of your project. Describe your project and include details on the business problem that it will solve.
4. Business requirements
For any given project, there will be a number of business requirements. For example, did the business have preferred suppliers to work with? Did they have a budget? Did they need a return to be realised within a certain amount of time? Specify these requirements and how your project will meet them.
5. Option presentation and evaluation
The purpose of this section is to show stakeholders that you have researched different options and selected the best one for your business.
Some business cases may require that you conduct research, present a long list of options and then create a shorter list (and a final selection) based on certain criteria. For other business cases, all you will need to do is write a short description of options. What is appropriate will depend on the scale of the project.
Regardless of how you present options, show that you have evaluated them based on the criteria you have been provided. For example, you might look at the price for software, or you might consider price and features. Whatever criteria you are using, make sure you apply it equally to all options to show that you have reached a rational conclusion.
6. Presentation of preferred option
Present your preferred option. Detail why you have selected it and why it best meets the evaluation criteria. Show how it meets business requirements.
7. Strategic alignment
For projects within smaller organisations, it might be obvious how the project aligns with the strategic objectives of a business. For example, a business case for an EFTPOS machine within a restaurant allows customers to pay for their food, so it has a direct correlation with the business’s cash flow. However, for larger organisations, the alignment between a particular project and the company’s objectives may not be so clear.
The strategic alignment section is your chance to demonstrate how your project actively contributes to your company’s broader business and strategy plans.
The benefits section is crucial in a business case. Outline the clear benefits of your chosen option.
The benefits you outline should be two-fold. Firstly, they should discuss why the project should proceed in general. Secondly, they should outline the benefits of what you are recommending, so as to convince stakeholders it is the right option going forward.
Often, people are concerned that if they present the risks of a project in too much detail, decision-markers won’t decide to move forward with a project. This isn’t true. All projects involve risks, and as part of the due diligence in writing your business case, you need to present them honestly and fairly.
In this section, present the risks, including the likelihood that these risks might eventuate.
10. Project implementation plan
To approve a project, stakeholders want a clear vision of how the project will be implemented. Detail this plan here.
Give stakeholders a brief insight into how the project will proceed, which stakeholders need to be involved, what resources are required and a timeline.
11. Financial analysis
The financial analysis section of your business plan is critical in demonstrating that the project is affordable to the business, that they can fund it, and that it will deliver financial value in the short and long term.
Depending on the scale of your project, a simple analysis may be required, or conversely, you may need to go into detail and present forecasts and other financial reports.
12. Resources required
In this section, include all resources, including physical assets, intellectual resources, human resources and financial resources that your project will need.
The authorisations section details who needs to sign off on what and at what stage.
The appendices house important information that doesn’t belong in the body of your business case, such as more detailed research on the options you’ve presented, further analysis of risks and benefits, or more in-depth financial models or project plans.
Business cases are important business documents and require a detailed structure to ensure they function as they should. Including the sections detailed above will give you the best chance of creating a successful business case.
How to present a business case
Learning how to write a business case is only the first step. The next critical step is presenting it to stakeholders.
Six Tips for Presenting Your Business Case Successfully
Follow the steps below to successfully present a business case:
1. Find the right delivery mode
Finding the right delivery mode will ensure that your business case is well received by decision-makers. Think about how your decision-makers like to be engaged. Would it make sense to send them the business case file first and then present the highlights to them? Or do you want them to view your presentation with no prior knowledge of your business case? Here, consider what presentation medium you use. For example, would a short video introduction work best? Alternatively, will you use PowerPoint? If you use PowerPoint, how can you do so in a way that’s convincing while providing the right amount of detail? Do you need to practice your presentation before you deliver it? Ensuring that you have all of these elements right is the first step in presenting your business case.
2. Prepare an elevator pitch
Senior stakeholders are time-poor, so it’s critical to have a short, sharp elevator pitch that summarises your business case. This is important, as not everyone has time to read the business case. Ensure you have the basics covered with your elevator pitch so stakeholders can make an informed decision.
3. Create a hook
Your business case will contain many critical facts and figures. To engage your stakeholders, you will need to translate them into an emotional story. The story you create around your business case will differ from your elevator pitch. It will include how the project will benefit people. For example, you might talk about how much easier life will be for employees with a new type of software or all the happy families who will enjoy an apartment block. Creating a connection through emotion will help you make an impact and be memorable when presenting your business case.
4. Begin with the business need
Every business case should address a business problem. To get stakeholder buy-in for your business case, start by reminding them of what this problem is so they will have greater incentive to hear about your solution.
5. Make it interactive
Interactive presentations are more engaging and memorable. As such, view and deliver your business case as a discussion. To do this, regularly ask questions to specific stakeholders, and ensure you proactively answer any questions asked to you. Also, if you make your presentation interactive, you won’t have to rely as much on your slides, which will make you appear more confident.
5. Follow up
Following up after your business case presentation is important, as not everyone may have had time to ask questions or felt comfortable doing so. Follow up individually, if possible, to ensure stakeholders have the opportunity to privately voice their concerns. Understanding how to present a business case is as important as knowing how to write a business case. If you follow the steps described above, you will have a higher chance of success.
Business case resources
When learning how to write a business case, it’s helpful to have best-practice templates to work with. Here are some resources you can use:
Smartsheet provides numerous business case templates, including one-page business case templates, construction and project management business case templates, and a PowerPoint business case template.
Safety and quality
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare provides a solid template for healthcare (and general) business cases.
The importance of your business case
Business cases have significant impacts on organisations. They help steer everything from small decisions to those that change the course of organisations forever. Learning how to craft best-practice business cases can set you up to be effective and efficient when you prepare them in the future.
Learning how to write successful business cases is one part of what success looks like as an executive in modern organisations. Broaden your horizons and opportunities with an Online Master of Business Administration from James Cook University. Learn more here .
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How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)
By Kat Boogaard , May 19, 2022 - 10 min read
A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business , and your strategies for achieving those goals.
But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else?
A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.
The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template .
What is a business case?
A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.
The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem.
Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this:
- Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers.
- Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results.
- End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects.
In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.
Examples of business cases
The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell.
Consider the example of Febreze . In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint.
P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.
But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer.
After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.
That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”:
Business Case: ABC Widgets
Section 1: summary.
Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.
ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget.
Section 2: Project Scope
This section should include the following:
- Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold.
- Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers.
- Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue.
- Plan . Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks.
- Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah.
This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed?
How do you write and develop a business case?
When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.
But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.
Challenges of writing a good business case
Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one.
“The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte , communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.
The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.
A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working.
How do you present a business case?
The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.
Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”
If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.
The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own:
- Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case . No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up.
- Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through.
- Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers.
- Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point.
If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be.
Business case checklist
Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself):
- Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward?
- Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next.
- Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action.
- Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize.
- Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?
With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together.
Business case template
A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner.
Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include:
- Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business
- Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information
- SWOT analysis : An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors
- Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them
- Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project
- Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved
Let's see what that might look like.
How to write a business case with Wrike
Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.
The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process.
If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template . This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.
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- Big Five Personality Traits
- Biographical Characteristics
- Bureaucratic Structure
- Causes of Stress at Work
- Challenges and Opportunities for OB
- Challenges of Management
- Choosing the Right Communication Channel
- Classification of Groups
- Conflict Results
- Contingent Selection
- Creative Behavior
- Cultural Values
- Decision Making Biases
- Direction of Communication
- Discrimination in the Workplace
- Diversity Management
- Diversity in the Workplace
- Effective Management
- Effective Negotiation
- Effective Teamwork
- Effects of Work Stress
- Emotional Intelligence
- Emotional Labor
- Emotional Regulation
- Employee Involvement
- Employee Selection Methods
- Evidence Based Management
- Factors Influencing Perception
- Functions of Emotions
- Functions of Organizational Culture
- GLOBE Framework
- Group Cohesiveness
- Group Decision Making
- Group Development Stages
- Group Norms
- Group Roles
- Group Status
- Group vs Team
- History of Motivation Theory
- Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions
- How to Measure Job Satisfaction
- Impact of Power
- Importance of Leadership in Human Resource Management
- Influences on Organizational Culture
- Initial Selection Process
- Innovative Organizational Culture
- Integrating Theories of Motivation
- Interpersonal Skills
- Job Attitude
- Job Dissatisfaction
- Job Satisfaction Causes
- Job Satisfaction Outcomes
- Leadership Trust
- Maintaining Organizational Culture
- Mechanistic vs Organic Structure
- Models of Organizational Behavior
- Modern Motivational Theory
- Negotiation Process
- Organizational Behavior Management
- Organizational Constraints
- Organizational Culture Problems
- Organizational Decision Making
- Organizational Structure Management
- Organizational Values
- Paradox Theory
- Perception in Decision Making
- Personal Stress Management
- Personality Models
- Personality and Values
- Personality at Work
- Planned Change in an Organization
- Positive Company Culture
- Power Tactics
- Power in Work
- Responsible Leaders
- Simple Structure
- Situation Strength Theory
- Social Loafing
- Stereotype Threat
- Stress Management in Organization
- Stress in the Workplace
- Substantive Selection
- Team Challenge
- Team Composition
- Team Player
- Team Process
- The Study of Organizational Behavior
- Third Party Negotiation
- Training Effectiveness
- Trait Activation Theory
- Types of Diversity
- Types of Emotions
- Types of Moods
- Types of Power in the Workplace
- Types of Teams
- Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture
- Unequal Power
- Virtual Organizational Structure
- Work Emotions
- Working as a Team
- Workplace Behavior
- Workplace Spirituality
- Communication Barriers
- Communication Channels
- Communication Process
- Cultural Barriers
- Oral Communication
- Persuasive Strategies
- Types of Communication
- Written Communication
- Assessing Business Performance
- Business Considerations from Globalisation
- Competitive Environment
- Core Competencies
- Corporate Mission and Objectives
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Economic Change
- Economic Environment
- Financial Ratios
- Interest Rates in the UK
- Investment Appraisal
- Lifestyle and Technological Environment
- Non-Financial Data
- Porters Five Forces
- SWOT Analysis
- Social and Technological Environment
- Areas of Competition
- Bowmans Strategic Clock
- Strategic Positioning
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Business case studies are important as they help us understand how real-life business scenarios are different from classroom teaching. Businesses are dynamic, meaning they are susceptible to external forces. A business case study tells us how a particular business responded to a unique situation. Other businesses can learn from them and be prepared for what can happen, how-to, or how not to respond to a similar situation.
What is a business case study?
A case study is a research tool that is also implemented as a research methodology. It is preferred by many students while writing their bachelor's or master's thesis. A case study gives students a chance to apply theory to a real-life situation, analyse, and draw insights. The business case study can be a fictitious account of a business situation provided by the instructor to check the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students. We have developed 44 case studies that provide students with detailed problem statements and analyses to understand real-life business scenarios. Students can use these case studies as examples with the corresponding theory to stand out in exams. For example in Figure 1 below, what strategy would a salesman implement to increase his sales? We need to study his business case to find out!
A business case study summarises a real-life business issue faced by a company and explains how it may affect society within a business context.
Business Case Studies Format
In this study set, we have divided case studies into groups as per the business situation. The groups include case studies regarding mergers and takeovers, strategy overviews, SWOT analyses, business leader characteristics, corporate social responsibility, franchise models, Porter's five forces, Change Management and ethical issues.
Business Case Studies: Mergers and takeover case study
In Layman’s terms, When two equal-sized companies join forces to capture more market share, it is called a merger. While if a big company buys out a smaller company, it is called a takeover. Virgin Media O2 Merger happened in June 2021 through a 50:50 joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica, the owners of Virgin Media and O2.
Another example of a merger is analysed in the Disney Pixar Merger Case Study . The former CEO of Pixar, Steve Jobs, has said that this merger will allow companies to focus on what they do best. But did you know that Kraft Food Ltd. tried to acquire Cadbury in a hostile takeover? Kraft Cadbury Takeover is a case study that explains how hostile takeovers may occur.
Case studies about strategies of businesses
A strategy is not the same as a plan. Strategy is the first step in business that determines why, considers all known and unknown factors, multiple different paths, and multiple outcomes. Without a strategy, businesses cannot reach their goal and their plans will wander. Businesses create different strategies to reach different goals. We have presented marketing strategies and global and internationalization strategies for some successful companies like Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Ikea, Netflix, and Coca-cola.
You might have observed that Coca-cola has similar branding all over the world. Their marketing strategy is to be a common household name that can be recognized anywhere globally. Starbucks and Mcdonald’s also use the same branding even if their products differ from country to country.
Business Case Studies: SWOT analysis
SWOT Analysis is a tool all businesses use before making decisions. The tool helps put Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threats concisely so that one can easily analyze them before making any decision. Studying cases of companies like Apple, Tesco, and Cadbury gives us more insight into the company than we see. Hershey has acquired the rights to produce Cadbury products in the U.S. in 1988. Cadbury was facing issues expanding its market reach. This is a weakness Cadbury has.
What do you think will be the threats to tech giant Apple? Read the Swot Analysis of Apple case to find out.
Business Case Studies: Business leaders
Who is your role model in business? Whose Leadership style do you admire? Is it Bill Gates, Richard Branson, or Jeff Bezos? Perhaps you wish to know more about Warren Buffet or Reed Hastings of Netflix.
Mary Barra, the first female CEO of General Motors, practices an inclusive and transformational Leadership style. Have you heard about the innovative Leadership style employed by Susan Wojcicki, who is the CEO of Youtube? Or you can read all to know how these business leaders differ in their Leadership styles.
Business Case Studies: Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporations often undertake practices and policies for the betterment of society along with profit maximization. Common examples of CSR include green initiatives, donating to charities, or organizing fundraisers. In our case studies regarding CSR, you can read about Ben and Jerry’s CSR strategies. Ben and Jerry’s has, over the years, supported protestors against income inequality, protested drilling in Arctic regions and has launched several climate action campaigns.
Are you aware of Walt Disney CSR Programs ? Disney's CSR programs include CSR programs for children, investment in youth programs, social influence and workforce programs and supply chain investment programs. Disney not only has children as their main audience but also takes responsibility for helping children in need, showing exemplary CSR practices.
Business Case Studies: Franchise model
The first company that might come to mind when asked about an example of a franchise model could be McDonald’s. McDonald’s model has ensured the ability of the franchise to run sustainably for 10 years.
Another brand that grew using the franchise model is the well-known clothing brand, Zara. Zara took 13 years to make its presence via franchising as they moved forward cautiously. Zara gives the opportunity to franchisees to repurchase their stocks.
Oyo, a unicorn hospitality start-up from India, is growing internationally via a franchise model. Oyo implemented an aggregator model in which it leases some rooms from partner hotels, refurbishes them to match quality standards, and rents them out on their platform. From 2018, Oyo switched to a franchise model in which partner hotels make a contract with Oyo to provide quality service for brand name and posting hotel rooms on Oyo platforms.
Business Case Studies: Porter five forces
Porter's Five Forces is a method for analyzing a company's Competitive Environment . It identifies and analyzes five competitive forces that shape the industry:
Power of buyers,
Power of suppliers,
Threat of substitutes.
There are many coffee shops that could match Starbucks’ quality of service. Starbucks is always under the threat of new entrants, competition, and substitutes. To survive, Starbucks has to keep innovating new flavours, drinks, and coffee substitutes.
Walmart is another case study that we analyzed for Porter’s five forces. We realized that the strongest force of Porter’s Five Forces for Walmart is the competitive rivalry from other retailers like Costco, Amazon, and eBay.
What is your opinion about these forces on Apple? Is it the customer bargaining power or threat from substitute products that have the most influence? Read Porter’s five forces Apple to learn more!
Business Case Studies: Change management
Change Management is the process of managing responses to changes in the internal and External Environment of a business. Businesses that do not change in time, perish. When Apple launched touchscreen phones, Nokia stuck with QWERTY keypads. When Google launched Android, Nokia stuck with the development of the Symbian operating system. What happened to Nokia and why were they resistant to change? On the other hand, you can also read about Apple's change Management . The decision-making and acceptance to change are what differentiates Apple from Nokia.
Business Case Studies: Organizational structure
Organizational structure decides how flexible the company is towards the process of change. Modern organizations like Google keep innovation at the centre of their strategy. Google has a flat, function-based, and product-based organizational structure.
McDonald’s has separate departments for each country/region. They have a centralized decision-making body and a decentralized structure for each country they operate in. Tesco, one of the big five grocery retailers in the UK, has a decentralised, hierarchical, and product-based structure. These businesses are active in different sectors and their organisational structure depends on it. The other factors that influence organizational structure are company work culture, Management , and business model.
Business ethics case studies
Keeping a check on businesses ethically is not just the government’s job but also consumers'. Unfortunately, there seemed to be several ethical issues with Apple such as poor working conditions, Health and Safety risks, child labour , poor environmental reporting, contributing to e-waste and tax avoidance. Starbucks is not an exception for it either. They have an aggressive marketing strategy, poor employee conditions, and a weak position on fair trade ratings. Companies like Apple, Starbucks can improve their ethical issues but some companies have faced sandals.
Nike's Sweatshop Scandal and the Enron Scandal are two such examples. Nike Sweatshop Scandal began in 1991 when Jeff Ballinger published a report detailing the appalling working conditions of garment workers at Nike's factory in Indonesia. Since then Nike has taken positive steps to reinforce CSR. The Enron Scandal was financial fraud. Enron did not show large debt on its Balance Sheet . But why did it happen? You can read about it in our case study called Enron Scandal!
Business case study examples
In this section, we have mentioned case studies that do not fall into any of the categories mentioned above but still hold importance in business studies. These case studies are unique and one may find that these companies have created new markets via their business model.
Business Case Studies: Ryanair Strategic Position
Ryanair is a cost-friendly budget airline that operates in 40 countries. How can they sell tickets so cheap? Well, they travel to less busy airports, usually far from the city, outside business hours when there is a high rush at airports, and they charge you for almost every small addition. Ryanair operates only one type of aircraft to speed out ground crew processes. Ryanair tries to keep their planes for small times on airfields to save on rent. Budget flyers across Europe prefer Ryanair for its cheap tickets. More insights at Explanation: Ryanair Strategic Position .
Business Case Studies: Unilever outsourcing
You might have heard that many major companies outsource their IT operations. Unilever Outsourcing is different as they have outsourced their HR operations to Accenture. Outsourcing has helped Unilever save fixed costs and share risks.
Business Case Studies: Nivea Market Segmentation
Nivea is a well-known name in Asian countries. Nivea effectively targets the young adult market in the tropical equatorial region. Nivea’s Market Segmentation thus concluded to be geographical and demographic. But how did we reach this conclusion? Read more about our Explanation: Nivea Market Segmentation .
Here are the links to each case study.
Table 1 - Summary of StudySmarter Case Studies
Find out more about how businesses function in the 'real world' by reading our case studies mentioned above!
Business Case Studies - Key takeaways
- A case study is a research tool that is implemented as a research methodology.
- A business case study summarises a real-life business issue faced by a company and how it may affect society within a business context.
- StudySmarter has provided 44 case studies that provide students with detailed problem statements and analyses to understand real-life business scenarios.
- In Layman’s terms, When two equal-sized companies join forces to capture more market share, it is called a merger while if a big company buys out a smaller company, it is called a takeover.
- Strategy is the first step in business that determines why, considers all known and unknown factors, multiple paths, and multiple outcomes.
- SWOT Analysis is a tool all businesses use before taking any decision.
- Corporations undertake practices and policies for the betterment of society, this is known as CSR.
- Porter's Five Forces is a method for analyzing a company's Competitive Environment .
- Change management is the process of managing responses to changes in the internal and External Environment of a business.
- Companies are always in the moral dilemma of doing things the 'right' way or the profitable way!
Final Business Case Studies Quiz
Business case studies quiz - teste dein wissen.
what year was Nike founded?
What was the nike sweatshop scandal about?
Nike has been criticized for using sweatshops in Asia as a source of labour. The company was accused of engaging in abusive and verbal behaviour toward its workers.
Does nike sweatshop scandal involve human rights violations?
Yes. A report by the Washington Post in 2020 stated that Nike doesn't have evidence of a living wage for its workers. The same year, it was revealed that the company uses forced labor in factories.
What is the main reason Nike is considered unethical?
Nike has been criticized for using sweatshops in Asia as a source of labor. The company was accused of abusing its employees. In addition, some of the factories reportedly imposed conditions that severely affected their workers' restroom and water usage.
Was Nike involved in child labour?
In what year did Nike created the Fair Labour Association, which was created to oversee the company's 600 factories?
In what year did the company started improving the conditions of its factories?
Where was the first Nike store to be open?
First Niketown store to launch open in Portland, Oregon.
When was Nike first founded?
Life magazine in America did a report on child labour in 1996, which included a shocking photo of a 12-year-old boy sewing a Nike football. What country was he from?
Where and when was Tesco founded?
Tesco was founded in London, the United Kingdom in 1919.
Who is the founder of Tesco?
Tesco’s founder is Jack Cohen.
What type of market does Tesco belong in?
Tesco belongs to the grocery and merchandise retailer market.
Is it true that Tesco only sells its own brand products?
No, as well as selling its own brand products Tesco also supplies and sells other popular grocery item brands.
Why do businesses use SWOT analysis?
Business uses SWOT analysis to analyse their strategic positioning in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, it assists companies in decision making with consideration of external factors and the environment, in terms of opportunities and threats.
What are the key elements that are included in SWOT analysis?
There are four key elements that are included in the SWOT analysis. They are strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Regarding SWOT analysis, what elements are used for internal analysis and which ones are used for external analysis?
For internal analysis: Strengths and weaknesses
For external analysis: Opportunities and threats
What is meant by threats?
Threats are external factors that can potentially be harmful to the organisation.
What are the key Tesco’s strengths?
The key Tesco’s strengths are:
- Having the largest market share in the UK
- The ability to increase its growth even during events such as the Coronavirus pandemic,
- High adaptability to the constantly changing environment,
- Innovation especially in regards to new technology,
- Holding the largest employer’s title in Europe.
What are the key Tesco’s weaknesses?
The key Tesco’s weaknesses are:
- Failure to adapt to markets outside of Europe,
- Being involved in scandals regarding food safety and quality.
What are the key Tesco’s opportunities?
The key Tesco’s opportunities include:
- Investing in optimising consumers’ experience of online shopping,
- Increasing youth employment rates,
- Investing in expanding the range of plant-based products.
What are the main Tesco’s threats?
The main Tesco’s threats include:
- Post-Brexit rules
- Government’s regulations
- Price inflation of necessities
Why SWOT analysis is an important part of Tesco’s strategic analysis and decision-making process?
SWOT analysis is an important part of Tesco’s strategic analysis as it assists in identifying the business’s strategic positioning and making decisions with consideration of external factors and the environment.
What is meant by market analysis?
Market analyses are used by businesses to get a sophisticated understanding of the market that they are operating in and identify the competition in the market.
Why is it important for Tesco to conduct market analysis?
It is important for Tesco to conduct market analysis as it will allow Tesco to fully understand its market and see the company’s positioning among the competitors.
What are the key elements that market analysis is made of?
The market analysis is made upon the following elements:
- Market size
- PESTLE analysis
- Consumer loyalty in the market
- Market segmentation
- Consumer decision making within the market
What is the full name of the IKEA Foundation?
Stichting IKEA Foundation
Who founded the IKEA Foundation?
Is the IKEA Foundation independent from the IKEA company?
When was the IKEA Foundation founded?
According to its founder, why was the IKEA Foundation founded?
It was founded to make sure that IKEA continues to be an independent company using some of its profits to help people in need long after he is not there.
According to Ingvar Kamprad, what are the basic needs we all share?
a secure home, good health, a regular income, and a desire to keep our children safe and to see them get a good education and succeed in life
What are the objectives of the IKEA Foundation?
- To help families in poverty across developing countries to fulfil their basic needs such as a secure home, good health, a regular income, and a desire to keep their children safe and to see them get a good education and succeed in life
- To help young people, women and refugees who often struggle to find a job and earn a sustainable income
What are the six programs funded by the IKEA Foundation?
- climate action
- renewable energy
- agricultural livelihoods
- employment and entrepreneurship
- refugee livelihoods
- special initiatives and emergency response
What is the main goal of the IKEA Foundation’s climate action?
to reduce carbon emissions
How does the IKEA Foundation work on supporting agricultural livelihoods?
Partnering with Enviu they support social entrepreneurs in Africa and India in creating local markets by building local supply chains.
What is an initiative launched by the IKEA Foundation to enable underprivileged people to earn income and lift their families out of poverty?
Green Entrepreneurship Initiative
What institution was a research on refugees carried out by?
by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford
What did the IKEA Foundation do to help during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It donated €3 million to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation. The donation is expected to support ongoing life-saving medical activities caused by the spread of COVID-19 in India.
What is IKEA's international strategy?
Its concept is to combine high-quality design and functionality with low prices. Ikea's goal is to keep the prices low enough to allow the customer to buy the product directly.
Is IKEA a transnational company?
Does IKEA use standardization or adaptation?
What type of global business is IKEA?
IKEA is a global home furnishing brand that was started in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad. It started as a mail order catalog business.
Who is the founder of IKEA?
In what year was IKEA founded?
What does IKEA mainly sell?
it is mainly focused on selling ready-to-assemble furniture
True or False?
The company started by developing innovative modular designs and sourcing components from eastern Europe.
Ikea strategy allowed it to offer quality furniture at very low prices.
What is Ikea hybrid strategy?
Ikea hybrid strategy is aimed to achieve competitive advantage by producing at the lowest cost. It allows the company to charge lower prices and increase the profitability.
To achieve its goals, IKEA constantly bring costs up and is always looking for the most costly suppliers.
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5 Steps to Develop a Solid Business Case
- Which alternatives should we invest in to generate the most value for the organization?
- Are other alternatives more profitable?
- Will this investment deliver benefits of high value?
- Is it strategically the best approach?
- Should the organization consider investing at all in this proposal?
- Demonstrate the value a proposed product or service would generate for your organization.
- Obtain board approval for the investment.
- Decide whether to outsource a particular function.
- Relocate business operations and manufacturing facilities.
- Prioritize projects within your organization that are competing for funding and resources.
- Secure the financial funding and resources to implement the project.
- The business case helps to identify and evaluate alternatives and to compare their relative costs and benefits. A business case is a tool for strategic planning and decision-making.
- The purpose of the business case is to outline the organization's plan for the project - risk, return, the investment required, time and financial break-even and other elements.
- Aligning stakeholders' expectations to the project's approach, outcomes and benefits of an initiative.
- It increases the likelihood of a project's success.
- The business case, especially if crafted using a business case framework, can be seamlessly turned into a project plan . It highlights the project's milestones and how to apply the project resources.
- It is easier to see success.
- The strategy section puts the business case into context, explaining why the organization is looking to invest.
- The justification gives a detailed breakdown of the costs, revenue, and net impact of the investment, presenting the case for the investment.
- It explains the risks and opportunities associated with the recommendation.
- Projects fail without having a solid business case to support them. The business case document is necessary to start a project and is the basis for the project charter and the project plan.
A compelling business case outlines the expected benefits of this investment decision.
The business case document should explain the following:
The investment decision.
Key objectives for the project.
The business needs.
The project definition. Provide necessary background and supporting information to put the investment into context.
Describe how the investment aligns with the organization's strategic business plan.
Describe the different options explored and why you are recommending this option or solution.
Provide a robust budget, an estimate of the whole-of-life costs of the investment and its financial benefits and the projected financial statements.
The business benefits include an estimate of the non-financial benefits.
How to make sustainability core to the recommendation and outcomes.
Describe the implementation approach, including timelines, resources, the procurement strategy, project governance, and how to embed sustainability practices.
Rigorously assess the inherent risks, different scenarios and sensitivities, including how they are likely to affect the investment and outline strategies for mitigating them.
Convey the level of uncertainty surrounding the proposal.
Provide options for the board and management to consider in reaching a decision.
In large organizations, there are often guidelines defined for the business case writer to help them write what's called an "investment appraisal" for their business case.
Any leadership or professional role may assume responsibility for producing and writing the business case if the decision-makers trust that individual. Thus, executives, business leaders, project managers, business analysts, internal and external consultants, and IT managers are included. The project sponsor or project manager may lead the development of the business case. The goals of the recommended project, the project customers, users and stakeholders, and the business outcomes and benefits are more important than technology, domain knowledge, or deliverables in a robust business case. The business case lead or writer focuses on evaluating, analyzing, quantifying and delivering the business value. Poor project results can result from insufficient attention to the details of a business case and accompanying analysis.
- Strategic positioning of the new
- product/service/innovation in the market.
- Market demand and pricing.
- The Go-to-Market strategy.
- The product and production feasibility and the financial viability of a new product.
- Most new product business cases include a roadmap describing a new product's development.
- Service delivery model.
- Customer service and supporting clients and channel partners.
- The opportunity and return on investment for the investor or financier.
- How does the business or joint venture scale up to achieve the projected growth?
- The proposed investment, the projected return on investment, and the risks involved.
- How to finance the investment, such as whether or not debt or equity financing.
- How will the financing be used? First, it details where the funding will be applied to the business, such as capital, working capital, operating expenses, etc.
- Explains the return on investment (ROI) from the investment.
- How the client experience will be improved
- How improving the customer experience (CX) will impact the bottom line.
- How can the investment in CX reduce operational costs, such as the cost to serve?
- Net promoter score (NPS)
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
- Customer Churn
- Annual recurring revenue
- Sales conversion rate
- Customer long-term value
- The return on investment (ROI).
- The business problem you are solving.
- How the client experience will be improved.
- How the solution features match business needs and align with the strategic objectives.
- How the SaaS solution will be maintained, supported and serviced.
- The strategic, financial and client outcomes and quantifies the benefits.
- The implementation approach, milestones and required resources.
- Why is a government grant needed?
- The expansion strategy and the proposed investment.
- The market demand, export growth and import replacement.
- The roadmap to expand the business.
- The jobs growth from the investment.
- The outcomes for the industry or sector.
- How will the grant bring forward the investment?
- How will the business fund its contribution?
- Strategic or Initial business
- Preliminary business case
- Full business case
- Improving the customer experience (CX)
- Business expansion to enable revenue growth
- Accelerated investment to enter new markets - Government grant business case
- Equity investment to scale up the business
- Customer service improvement
- Service planning to meet population growth
- We framed the recommendations for the decision-makers in a way that clearly communicates the value of getting the approval to proceed.
- We used an evidence-based approach to recommend the preferred option.
- We focused on business benefits realization.
- We strategically evaluated the shortlisted options.
- We strengthen these business cases by including solid financial analysis, such as Net Present Value, Rate of Return, Profit to Investment Ratio and Discounted Pay-Back Period.
- We developed a feasible project plan, planning each milestone and addressing the implementation risks.
- We identified, analyzed and evaluated the major risks, recommending mitigating actions to increase the project’s overall success.
- Think of your business case as a sales pitch with robust analysis and justification - you are creating a compelling business case.
- The process of developing a business case - use our Five Steps Business Case Framework
- Use the proven business case templates so you can easily start your business case without all the headaches.
- Write the business case for decision-makers to approve your recommendations.
- Present the business case as a persuasive presentation.
- Consider getting business case help.
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How To Write Business Plans and Business Cases
Setting the scene
“What’s the difference between a business case and a business plan?”
Few people can produce a ready answer to that question. After all, both business plans and business cases make predictions about future outcomes, but there is a big difference between the two.
are based on the business model or business line of an organisation. They explain how the business will achieve its operational and financial goals by capitalising on the capability of the organisation.
Business plans may be written to explain how a business may meet its growth targets over one or more years.
are based on a cost model. Business cases comprise an argument to convince a decision maker to approve a specific course of action over another.
A business case may be produced to justify the purchase of capital equipment.
1. What is a business plan?
2. how do i prepare, 3. how do i start, 4. how long should a business plan be, 5. how should i clarify my ideas, 6. what should a business plan contain, a) executive summary, b) management profiles, c) vision statement, d) mission statement.
e) Your proposition – company, product or service
f) Market description, analysis, segmentation, targeting and positioning
G) explanation of how the product, service or idea is different, h) outline marketing plan, i) outline sales plan and forecast, j) resources.
k) Financials (to include ROI and cash flow)
l) How to make it happen
7. should i use images and colour, 8. how should i present charts, 9. what is a business case, 10. what is the first stage, 11. how do i test my ideas, 12. defining options, 13. structure of a business case, 14. how do i encourage a decision, 15. any winning tips.
16. One last thing…
A business plan is a written document which describes your business, your goals and how you intend to achieve them over a given period. It is a forecast. It describes your starting point and the strategy you need to reach your proposed end point in one, two or three years.
It details your aims, describes your products and services, analyses market demand, and details the resources you need, the capability you have, and the income you anticipate to generate over a period of time.
In essence, your plan should provide sufficient information for the reader to calculate the credibility of your strategy, your chance of success, and in some cases, the risk people may take by investing in your business.
Ensure that you can answer questions about your plan with logic, completeness and clear thinking. You need to be able to describe three things:
- The situation – opportunity or problem
- Your plan to address the situation
- The payback
Creating an effective business plan means converting an exciting idea in your head into a compelling story on paper. It means applying logic and reasoning to your thoughts and creating a credible plan of action. Above all, it requires clarity of thought.
Clarity is the connection of your idea – your business proposition – to a coherent set of words, sentences, and numbers. It details what you wish to achieve – the business benefits – the why and who and when and where and how you are going to achieve them.
You must be able to answer why people should buy your business, product, service, or idea, in preference to someone else’s. Your answer should include the financial reasons why people should buy from you, which then means that your answer is essentially your value proposition.
A value proposition is a statement of value which you propose to deliver to potential buyers. This should be your starting point for developing your business plan.
Think of your value proposition as your elevator pitch. It should be clear, concise and compelling. It is about how you can deliver greater value or offer a better deal to potential customers than the current market can offer.
A value proposition details how your business, product or service can offer higher quality, lower cost, or something else desired by your customers, that your competitors can neither offer nor replicate easily. A value proposition should comprise a simple set of statements which:
- Describe how your business, product, service, or idea addresses the situation – problem or opportunity.
- Detail why the situation should be addressed or needs to be addressed in terms of opportunity, difficulty, or cost.
- Explain the benefits of your business plan – your business, product, service, or idea over alternatives.
- State the cost advantages of your business, product, service, or idea over competitive alternatives.
A business plan should contain essential information and no more than essential information necessary for the plan. The plan should be as short and as concise as possible. But it must contain everything necessary. In other words, it must be complete and leave no obvious questions unanswered.
A business plan can be as short as a couple of pages to many pages long depending on the product, service, market, and complexity of the proposition.
You need to have clarity about all aspects of your business plan and the influences upon it. SWOT may help you to distinguish between unimportant and important aspects which you need to consider. A SWOT analysis is a way of focusing on factors which may influence your success.
In particular, you need to be clear about threats to your plan. Readers need to see that you are knowledgeable about the environment in which you will be trading. That means you should never skip over areas of potential difficulty. Instead, define, analyse and conclude how and why you can overcome them. Realism is desirable in all business plans.
The number of sections your plan needs depends on the focus, technology or complexity of the proposed offering and may include:
b) Management profiles (if relevant)
The executive summary is the most important part of the document because it is likely to be read by all stakeholders. But don’t think of it as purely a summary of your business plan.
Think of it as an opportunity to “sell” your business idea. Think impact, engagement, and appeal. From your first word to your last, your executive summary requires high energy.
Your first sentence should be a benefit-focused entrée into an appealing, scene setting, first paragraph.
It should detail your vision, mission, the situation, proposal, and payback. It needs to mirror your document in the precise order of your document – from the proposition, market description, considerations, resources required and return on investment to cash flow. It needs to be well-structured, appealing, and highly credible.
Sketch out your executive summary in draft before starting your document. It should represent the skeleton of your document. Produce it in rough before writing your document and complete it after writing your whole document.
An executive summary – over one or perhaps two pages – should have seven parts:
- Proposition summary and how it meets the customer/market needs
- Situation definition - problem or opportunity
- Approach and proposition
- Benefits/rationale to approach
- How to make it happen
If the business plan is to secure funding, investors will want to know the capability, experience, and track record of the people who will be driving the business. Short biographies of key people should be detailed.
State where you see your business in the future. A vision statement is a high-level overview of the business, the characteristics the business will display, and the goals that it will have achieved by a specific time.
Summarise your company’s purpose, means of operation, market, and scope of activity.
e) Your proposition - company, product or service
This section should start with an outline of why you have developed your offering – the need for it – and how it fits within the market, competitively. You should position your company, product or service in the mind of the reader.
The main focus of this section is on what you will offer the market in terms of business, product or service, technically and operationally. You should include charts, diagrams, and images as necessary to enable the reader to understand your offering and its comparative capability.
Ensure that the information you give is complete, that your narrative explains essential details, and that no questions are begged.
You should describe your product or service in terms of what marketers call a marketing mix. It’s a means of structuring an offering from a marketing perspective. It comprises: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion, otherwise known as the 4 Ps.
This is about describing your product range or service, and how you will adapt it to support your customers’ needs and desires.
You should also include guarantees, support, and maintenance. Also include product variation, differentiation, and innovation.
This is the process of setting product prices. It may include discounts which relate to what you think customers are prepared to pay, and how they may wish to pay.
This might involve distribution channels, direct sales, indirect sales or e-commerce. In essence, you need to detail how you will get your product to market. Don’t go into detail here – instead, give detail at the section on sales plan and forecast.
This is about how you will promote your product, product line or company.
Markets are divided into groups of buyers – or segments. You should describe your market in segments.
Tailoring an approach to one or more groups – or one or more segments – over others is the only way to promote your offering. That’s why airlines promote first class services differently from economy class services.
One other thing you need to be aware of is that the segment or segments you propose are valid. Provided that a segment can be identified, is of reasonable size and can be reached economically, then it is a valid marketing target. Here are some variables:
These relate to age, gender, income, race, and ethnicity for the purpose of creating a clear and complete picture of the characteristics.
There are often regional differences. Customer preferences differ depending on which part of the country they may live.
Some customers are brand loyal. Others are heavy users while others are identified as light users.
This is based on activities, interests and opinions.
Segments which should be attractive are those which complement your business’s strengths and where demand, profitability, and growth are favourable.
Identify the variables, and then:
- Group potential customers into segments
- Group products into categories
- Produce Market/Product grid/s
You should also detail market influences. Markets are influenced by a number of factors such as technology, economics, politics, geography, social views, and so on. Refer to your SWOT analysis. You need to identify market factors which may influence your business plan and link them to justify your approach to achieving your proposition.
Link your marketing mix to your target segment. To do so, you need to answer these questions:
- How well is our target segment served by existing suppliers?
- What would be the cost of reaching that segment?
- How compatible with our strengths is this new target segment?
- What is our competitive position?
- What is the market growth potential?
You need to think about how you compare with competitive products and services. You then need to decide how you wish to position your product or service in the eyes of your market.
Positioning is the process by which you create an image or identity in the minds of your target market. It is the “relative competitive comparison” your product or service occupies in a given market – as perceived by the market.
It is about identifying the differential advantage of your business to your target segments. For example, a Rolls Royce Dawn is positioned differently from a Ford Fiesta even though both products are classified as cars.
Your business plan may be focused on an existing product or service or developing something completely new. Alternatively, you may wish to compare what you are offering with a competitive product or service.
Differentiation is about a product, service or idea which is perceived by the market – not purely by you – as being different. Differentiation is the aim of most businesses.
It may relate to lower cost, faster delivery, higher quality, greater adaptability and so on. The aim of differentiation is to match your offering to customer needs, attract your market and generate market advantage. You need to be clear about how you are going to achieve this.
At this point, you should also detail the uniqueness of your offering – your unique selling proposition (USP) – which distinguishes you from the competition.
Think through each element of your offering and link it to the process of getting your offering to market.
Produce an outline marketing plan – summarising essential points. Leave full detail to the marketing plan. Digital marketing is likely to play a role in promoting your business, product or service, so you need to detail how it will achieve your goals.
A typical marketing plan includes the following:
Detail the income the plan is to generate.
- Environment – Focus on every external influence on getting your offering to market. It includes economics, social trends, political influences, legal and technological influences. Some factors may be advantageous to you, some not. Whatever they are, you need to detail them.
- Competitors – You need to detail the market positioning of all relevant competitors and their comparative strengths and weaknesses with specific reference to your market.
Based on the above analysis.
Segmentation, targeting, and positioning.
The four Ps – Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement.
Activity is likely to include search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing, paid advertising (PPC) and social media marketing. Whatever it is that you decide to do, you need to detail it. Produce a chart of proposed activity against forecast return, over time.
Link these through to the financial section of your business plan.
The outline sales plan and forecast should include essential sales information from your full sales plan, and nothing more. It should detail the tactics you intend to use to reach your sales goals. If B2B, you should specify the market segments you intend to target and the companies and people you intend to approach.
You need to provide a chart which specifies sales resourcing needs and timescales of the complete sales lifecycle. It should be designed so that it is understood at a glance.
If you have prospects stating an intent to buy, these statements should be included here. The sales plan is the sharp end of your business plan.
The purpose of this section is to give readers confidence by demonstrating realism about your market and credibility about your forecast.
You should detail the resources you need to achieve your business goals – people, time, equipment and money. Specify lead times – recruitment times if relevant – and whatever else you deem essential. Demonstrate how you will achieve what you propose to achieve with the resources you propose to have.
The primary purpose of business, any business, is to make a profit. There is no other primary purpose. For that reason, the methods by which profit will be made needs to be detailed, clear and understandable at a glance
It should be complete and presented simply and clearly, and include:
- Funding requirements, envisaged return on investment, and cashflow.
- Clear description attached to numbers and lines as appropriate.
- Tables and charts with a consistent style.
- Key messages highlighted from each table or chart.
Include a timeline of who has to agree on what and by when.
The answer is yes. Images are a good way of getting points across. If colour makes your proposal look more attractive to read, then use it. Ensure, however, that images and colour support your message and don’t get in the way of it.
Give your chart a figure number and provide a summary underneath explaining the message your chart conveys. Provide narrative. Never leave it to the reader to interpret what your image or chart might mean.
A business case is a justification for a proposed project or plan of action on the basis of its expected commercial benefit. It is a business argument.
It reveals a situation which is either a problem or an opportunity and details how the situation could be addressed in terms of benefits and risks.
It needs to show a compelling case for change, value for money, commercial viability, affordability, and achievability.
The first stage is to produce a rough justification for addressing a problem or opportunity. It may start with your belief that you can improve a situation, save cost, make money, or achieve competitive advantage.
Whatever it is, you are unlikely to have complete information straight away, but you should have a rough idea.
For instance, you should have an approximate idea of feasibility factors. These may include situation knowledge, market size, competition, income opportunity, costs, funding, resourcing, and risk.
What you should be clear about are the drivers for addressing the situation and why your idea, product or service may have commercial traction. While you might not have complete information, you should have sufficient data to list your anticipated business benefits.
The result of this information is called your value proposition and is the basis of your business case. Refer to section 3 to remind yourself of what a value proposition should contain.
At this stage and at every stage of writing your business case, you need to probe and test your ideas. Great business narrative doesn’t beg questions but answers them, so every one of your statements needs to be supported and credible.
All options need to be defined, and your analysis needs to be non-controversial. Your analysis should be written in such a way that interested parties would agree with your analysis – even those who are likely to oppose your recommendations.
You should deal with researched facts and not show bias, or reveal recommendations. All reasonable options need to be considered including that of doing nothing (provided that is a reasonable option).
Options need to be detailed in precisely the same way – proposed option, implications, and payback – so that they can be compared equally. Consideration may be:
This relates to business synergy and strategic fit. It answers the question whether the option will be good for the overall business.
This aspect relates to whether it is good value for money.
This relates to how the business case will be structured financially and whether it can be considered to be a good deal.
This is primarily focused on whether the proposal can be funded and is affordable.
This aspect is concerned with whether the preferred option can be delivered successfully as outlined in the business case.
It should have 7 sections comprising:
Problem or opportunity definition, proposed business case, market analysis.
This is the most important section of your business case as it is likely to be read by all stakeholders. Produce a benefit-focused first sentence as an entrée into an appealing, scene setting, first paragraph. Your complete summary should be written so that it can be understood at a glance. It should be credible and highly persuasive.
You should draft your executive summary after you have drafted your value proposition but before writing your document. The draft will be approximate and should be finalised after the document has been written.
This section should mirror your document in the precise order of your document – from the proposition, market description, considerations, resources required to the return on investment.
From your first word to your last, your writing requires high energy. It should detail the purpose of your business case, the situation which it addresses, and above all, the benefits of your business case.
- Summary of proposed solution.
- Summary of the situation - problem or opportunity.
- Expected outcomes.
- Summary of benefits of proposal solution.
Detail the problem or opportunity so that it can be understood at a glance. Your writing should be jargon-free and easily understood by anyone not associated with your business idea.
Your analysis should be non-contentious and utterly factual of the problem or opportunity. It should provide a background and context to your business case and include research data both favourable and unfavourable to your proposition.
Identify all sources of information which contribute towards your proposition. These may include:
This is the main body of your business case. Your proposition and your approach to the problem or market should be detailed stage by stage. Start with a description of your offering in terms of benefits, features and advantages in that order.
Above all you must explain why your proposition is well-placed to address the situation and precisely how your approach complements your current business strategy.
Three questions your proposition needs to answer at every stage are: How does your idea compare against competitive ideas? How will you reach the market? Where’s the proof that you are likely to succeed?
Anticipate reader questions and answer them within your business case. Provide credibility and proof if possible at every stage.
As a conclusion to this section, you should detail your prospects – or likely users of your proposition or offering – along with their job titles. Readers will be looking for assurance that you really do know your market, can reach it, and are able to generate your forecast financial return.
- Explanation of how the solution addresses the problem or opportunity
- Cost savings
- Non-economic (perhaps relating to regulatory compliance)
If your business case is opportunity focused, then market analysis, competitor analysis and factors related to the selling environment need to be evaluated.
Show complete understanding of the market, and provide a detailed explanation of how you will reach the market.
Identify which organisational objectives the business case supports and explain how it will support them. (These may include policy, regulatory requirements or commercial governance.)
- List assumptions which drive the business case.
- Detail the environment (financial, operational, political or other) on which the solution is dependent.
Summarise competitive practices or competitor positioning. If helpful, produce a SWOT analysis.
List alternative solutions including “do nothing” provided it’s a realistic alternative.
- Timescales for agreement stages.
- Invite questions.
- Summarise and conclude with strong benefit statement.
This section should provide a cost-benefit analysis detailing the pros and cons of your case. Use facts, figures, and charts to get your messages across and use captions to emphasise them.
Readers need to assimilate critical points from your data at a glance.
- Detail funding requirements, envisaged return on investment, and cash flow.
- Make sure description is attached to numbers and lines as appropriate.
- Ensure every table and chart has a consistent style.
- Highlight key messages from each table or chart.
List the benefits in order of importance. These should relate to all considerations from the financial to the strategic.
Specify the critical path – a timeline – of all stages of approval necessary to proceed. Include the names of the people who need to give their approval.
Once you’ve checked the coherence of your argument and the completeness of your document, it is time to cast a critical eye. In addition to being complete, your document needs to look highly readable.
Make sure that your proposition is business-appealing, logical, strong, well-written and with all essential facts and figures.
Ensure your document is clear, complete, and looks good. Appearance is important. Something which looks good is likely to be read. Masses of text is unappealing. Short paragraphs and clear structure is appealing. Ensure that essential information can be read at a glance.
16. One last thing...
Mistakes in spelling, punctuation or grammar not only distract but reduce the credibility of your document. Ask others to proofread. Then check and recheck before submitting what will become your highly effective business case.
This blog was written by Richard Walker, a director of Walkerstone Limited.
He can be contacted at: [email protected]
Walkerstone comprises business case writers, proposal writers and professional trainers.
We delivery scheduled courses, in-company training and executive coaching to people and organisations throughout Europe.
Business Case Writing
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How to Write a Business Case Study
by Julia McCoy | Dec 1, 2016 | How to Write
Business case studies can have a massive impact on your marketing, done right.
While they cost time and effort to create, they can be a stellar tactic to draw new customers to your business and help you earn new clients.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t sure how to start when it’s time to write copy for them.
If you’re one of the many individuals who wants to learn how to write a business case study, but just aren’t sure where to get started, my simple guide is here to help you step-by-step – another installment of our #howtowrite series!
What is a Case Study?
A case study is a piece of content, published by a company, that outlines their success or effectiveness in dealing with a client. It’s commonly used as a piece of marketing content and can be incredibly useful since it helps would-be clients understand how the agency or professional has excelled in the past.
Virtually every successful online company uses case studies, and Express Writers is no different! Earlier this year, in fact, we published a case study that showcases how we helped a client boost their revenue by 77% after creating some product descriptions for them.
Case studies are more than just a piece of self-congratulating marketing material (this is an incorrect assumption that many people hold about these unique content types), though. In fact, they’re meant less to stroke the company in question’s ego than they are to help would-be clients understand how a given company can assist them.
The Top 4 Benefits of Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Case Study
So, why go to all the time to create your own case study? (It IS a ton of time and effort!)
If the “what is” didn’t argue in favor already, here are key reasons to spend your time finding out how to write a business case study, and putting one of your own together.
Business case studies have many advantages . The top four are as follows:
1. Case studies allow a company to use storytelling to bring their product to life
Whether it’s a service or a hard-and-fast consumer product, a case study is an excellent way to illustrate it and help bring it to life for new customers. Just like any great novel, a good case study has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a conflict and a resolution. It’s a wildly effective way to make somewhat complex products real and can go a long way toward improving the way your clients perceive your offerings, especially for new businesses .
2. Case studies provide peer-to-peer influence
Peer-to-peer influence is a massively important thing, and case studies are wonderful at fulfilling it because they offer the view of a customer rather than a company. While it’s a company that publishes a case study, the entire thing is dedicated to recounting a customer’s experience. Direct quotes, statistics, and more are standard, and these things are fantastic for helping would-be clients to see the value in a company.
3. Case studies offer real-life examples
We’ve all heard about how critical customer reviews are for conversion rates, and case studies take this one step further. By providing real-life examples of your product at work, paired with glowing customer reviews, they can help new customers feel more confident in your company and take the leap to convert.
For an example, check out this case study excerpt (from our own clientele based case study ):
4. Case studies are powerful word-of-mouth advertising
Because a company must ask permission from a client to use his or her data in a case study, the inclusion of a customer in a case study often leads to some brand evangelism that can help boost your company’s visibility and improve your conversion rates.
How to Write a Business Case Study: Your Complete Guide in 5 Steps
So, you want to write a case study, but you’re not sure where to begin! This guide will help you get started.
1. Identify your best possible avenue for data
When it comes time to write a case study, you might have multiple cases to choose from. The first part of being successful, though, is narrowing these things down. For your case study to succeed, it must contain just the right information, and it’s critical to ensure this from the get-go. To determine which of your various cases would be the best fit for a study, look at them and evaluate whether or not they contain the following elements:
- A significant challenge . This could be a tight timeline, a complicated issue, low sales numbers, or even a need for entirely new software integration.
- A satisfying solution . For your case study to fall into the realm of storytelling, it needs a solution that customers can relate to.
- A series of substantial benefits. The final component in a case study is the benefit. An excellent case study should feature several benefits that your customers can relate to deeply. The benefits will be even more compelling if they’re solid statistics like we used when we say we boosted the client’s sales by 77% year-over-year. The more granular, the better in this case.
2. Write your case study (5 key tips)
Now comes the tough part – the writing! While it’s true that writing a case study requires a different set of skills and a different voice than everyday writing, it’s far from impossible.
To ace your DIY case study, follow these tips:
- Choose your voice carefully
Depending on your brand and the content of the case study, you can write it in either the first or third person. Either approach will work, and most case studies use a mixture of both.
EXAMPLE: Our client-based case study at Express Writers does this, and it flows quite nicely. If you’re going to use a combination of both the first and the third person, though, be sure that you’re enhancing the third-person parts with direct quotes from the client, as straight third-person voice can sound overly narrated after a while.
- Make your title specific and attention-grabbing
The title is a critical component of the case study. To make it as attention-grabbing as possible, include percentages and strong action verbs. Here are some good examples from real-life case studies:
- “ How Fake News Goes Viral: a Case Study ”
- “ HubSpot Partner Agency Element Three Doubles Yearly Revenue ”
- “ How KISSmetrics Increased Webinar Sign-Up Rates by 1,000% ”
Remember: titles perform better when they are as accurate as possible. That’s why phrases like “by 1,000%” and “doubles yearly revenue” appear in these wide-ranging case studies.
- Keep your language simple
Many people think that learning how to write a business case study involves incorporating jargon and corporate-speak into the writing. Fortunately, this isn’t true. In fact, writing a business case study requires you to keep your language simple rather than making it more complicated. The more you can avoid corporate jargon in your case studies, the better.
In addition to making them more natural and approachable, this will also allow non-customers to approach your case study without being intimidated away by overly complicated case study language.
- Add real numbers to your case study
When you look at the case study titles above, most people would agree that “increased webinar sign-up rates by 1,000%” is the most memorable phrase up there. In addition to the fact that this is a shocking number, it’s also so precise that it grabs reader attention.
With this in mind, follow KISSmetrics’s lead and include real numbers in your case studies. While phrases like “doubled this” or “tripled that” are powerful, they just don’t have the added oomph they need to take your case study to the top.
- Write from the beginning to the end
A case study is not the place to leave out critical data. Instead, write from the beginning to the end and keep it as accurate and chronological as possible. This will help flesh out the entire circumstances surrounding your interaction with the client and allow your readers to understand your impact more effectively.
3. Finish the case study with all of your relevant contact information
Since a case study is designed, at least in part, for press distribution, it should be outfitted with your contact information and details. This will allow other companies, customers, and more to contact you regarding the case study, and will help to make the information within it more accessible to other people.
While there are different standards for which information you “should” include in a case study, most sources recommend including your phone number, website, email, and one or two social profiles, along with a short bio. This will provide enough information for interested parties to contact you and can help boost the ROI of your case study down the road.
4. Hire a designer to finish the product
Don’t forget that every good case study needs a great design, and it can be helpful to bring in a designer to add some visual interest to the piece. Simple things, like using text boxes to pull out key facts, statistics, and quotes, and inputting related graphics and charts can make all of the difference in your case study and should be used liberally to enhance its value and interest.
We can help – our lead designer is familiar with how to take copy and create custom, beautiful designs in Adobe to match! Check out our case study service here.
5. Publish the case study
Publishing your case study is the final step in creating it. To get the most success from your case study, you’ll want to post it in the places your real audience and prospective customers frequent. This may mean publishing the case study on your blog, reaching out to relevant publishing platforms, or gating the case study and using it to drive email sign-ups for your company.
Alternately, KISSmetrics recommends appealing to different types of learners by breaking your case study into unexpected formats, like a podcast, a YouTube video, or an infographic!
We published ours in a few different forms.
Then, as a landing page.
What About Hiring a Specialist to Write the Case Study?
Writing a case study requires a very particular voice, and if you don’t have the time or confidence to do it yourself, it’s in your best interests to hire someone specifically who knows how to write case studies and has done it before. In addition to making your case studies more efficient, this will also help you create the best possible case study and not drive yourself into the ground as you do it.
No matter how good the writer you hire is, you’ll have to provide them with some specific information about your case study.
Ideally, you should give the author a very clear overview of what you’d like from the case study. This should include the following components:
- The products, goods, or services you’d like the case study to promote
- The benefits you provided for the client
- The struggle the client faced
- The specific way you went about resolving it
- The result (percentages, direct quotes from the customer, and facts are helpful here)
- The deadline for the case study
These things are critical for helping your writer create the best possible case study, and they’ll go a long way toward making the process more lucrative and enjoyable for you, as well.
The Case for Case Studies
Case studies are an incredibly useful tool and can have a massive positive impact on your content marketing.
While most companies don’t think they can create case studies, learning how to write a business case study is simple, as long as you’re willing to put in some time and work.
In addition to helping your customers understand the benefits of your services, case studies also provide an essential platform for new clients to see your products at work, which can be all they need to convert and become brand evangelists.
By following my tips above, you can learn how to write business case studies from scratch. Simple, effective, and critical for your company, this is one ROI-boosting move you simply will not regret.
Don’t want to D-I-Y? Trust our marketing team of experts: we’ve crafted successful case studies for businesses of all types. Talk to us today about your case study writing & creation needs!
Download your Free copy of How to Write a Business Case Study
How to Write a Business Case: Examples, Templates, and Checklists
By Joe Weller | April 24, 2019 (updated February 26, 2023)
This article presents expert tips on how to write a business case. We also provide a checklist to prepare for, write, and present a business case, along with free, easy-to-use Word and PowerPoint business case templates.
Included on this page, you'll find details on how to write a business case , sections to include in your business case , a business case checklist , and business case presentation examples .
What Is a Business Case?
A business case is a formal, structured document; an informal, short document; or a verbal exchange that defines the benefits of an initiative or project.
In addition, a business case forecasts the costs, benefits, and risks of an initiative, so decision makers — and even the project initiators — can decide whether a project is worthwhile and why to choose one approach over similar strategies.
Jim Maholic has over 20 years of experience with IT strategy and business case development, including two stints as a CIO, two management positions with the Big Four consulting firms, and leadership positions at several technology companies.
He describes a business case in this way: “A business case is the full story that explains the ROI for a capital project. It begins with a statement of a business problem, then explores how we can solve it or what the value of solving it is. For example, ‘Our revenues aren’t rising as fast as they should,’ or ‘Inventory isn't turning over as fast as it should,’ or ‘Costs are too high.’ That's where the business case starts.
“Then, we find out how big this problem is. We talk to people in the company and find out what they think the value of solving the problem is. All this information is packaged into a story that says, ‘Here's the problem. Here's the value of solving the problem. Here's what it costs in hardware, software, or whatever. Here are the benefits. And here’s the whole story.’”
Business Cases Explain Why You Should Invest
A business case explains why stakeholders should invest in a project. The purpose of a business case contrasts with that of a project proposal , which provides a high-level outline of what you want to initiate and its benefits to the company, or that of a project plan , which explains how you execute a project. You should create your business case during the earliest stages of project planning .
A business case can also become a key document for a project manager when planning, creating milestones, and evaluating progress.
Other names and uses for business cases are financial justification, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) , total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis , and return on investment (ROI) analysis . Nonprofits and government entities sometimes refer to business cases as case statements .
What Is Business Case Analysis (BCA)?
A business case analysis (BCA) looks not only at lowest costs, but also at technical value and other nonquantitative factors in what is known as a best-value analysis . The BCA addresses the triple constraints of time, money, and scope, and it can include measures such as performance, reliability, viability, and supportability.
Although business case analysis is used interchangeably with business case , some experts consider the analysis to be part of the business case as a whole.
What Is a Business Case Used For?
A business case helps a company or an organization prepare for new ventures or changes. This document is a crucial building block of project success and underpins the foundations of senior-level involvement and strong planning. Business cases summarize the benefits of an endeavor, clarifying a project’s business value to help stakeholders make decisions.
A good business case should focus less on the technology, domain knowledge, or specific deliverables and more on the users of a product and the goals of a project. In the same vein, a project manager should focus not only on creating output, but also on delivering value. An initiative can offer many types of value, including contributing to strategic aims, increasing efficiency, and supporting compliance. Insufficient attention to the details of a business case and the accompanying research can lead to poor project results.
Business cases usually describe these items:
- A business problem or opportunity
- Possible solutions and their benefits and disadvantages (sometimes known as disbenefits )
- Risks associated with the main solution
- Implementation timeline
- Consequences for implementing a solution and for retaining the status quo
- Resources required for the initiative or project
Advantages of a Business Case
A business case may seem like just another document destined for the shelf or the shredder, but it can offer real advantages:
- All stakeholders have similar expectations concerning the value and benefits of an initiative to an organization.
- You can convert a business case into a project plan with milestones. You increase the chances of a project’s success with planning.
- A business case becomes a gauge for determining whether an endeavor continues to offer value during execution and after a team produces a deliverable.
- Project planners can more easily establish objectives and goals.
- You can more easily discern success.
- Teams apply the right resources more efficiently.
Who Prepares a Business Case?
You might think that business cases are the purview of financial officers and accountants. In fact, people who have direct knowledge of processes and teams should be responsible for creating these documents.
Some pundits say that the individual who advocates change must enact the change, so anyone in any role could assume the responsibilities for producing a business case. This includes consultants, line managers, or IT managers. In some organizations, the project sponsor or project manager may guide the preparation of the business case and include input from relevant departments and SMEs.
When Do You Need a Business Case?
It’s no longer enough to complete a project and present a deliverable. In an economy that often seems as unstable as it was in 2008, stakeholders want to see that a deliverable creates value and benefits for an organization. This is particularly true for complex projects or those that require justification for enlisting external resources. Public sector projects frequently need business cases.
What's in a Business Case?
A business case outlines for a decision maker the benefits and business value of a proposed initiative. The term business case frequently refers to a written document that is submitted for review or presented at a meeting, but can also apply to an informal, spoken proposal.
What Should Be in a Business Case?
A well-written business case flows logically from presenting a problem or opportunity through the advantages and disadvantages of solutions to describing the recommended solution. When you require great detail, you can chunk text into sub-sections so that the content is easier to scan, as well as faster and less overwhelming to read. Following are the common sections of a business case in sequential order:
- Executive summary
- Problem statement
- Analysis and financial details
Many organizations have pre-established templates for writing business cases. If your organization doesn’t, search online for free, easy-to-use business case templates for construction business cases, one-page business cases, and more. Depending on the narrative needs of the business case, it can contain many possible sections:
- Preface: A preface may indicate the intended audience and any related documents.
- Table of Contents: If your document is delivered as a PDF file, consider hyperlinking your table of contents to the appropriate sections.
- What is the problem?
- What do you believe is the value of solving the problem?
- How much are you asking for?
- When will we start seeing benefits?
“I’ve had some presentations that don't get beyond that first page,” Maholic muses.
- Description of the Product or Service: When proposing a new object or concept, detail what the deliverable is and how it works.
- A Problem Statement or Mission Statement: By describing the problem or the mission of the organization, you can contextualize the proposed initiative.
- Business Drivers for the Initiative: Indicate what benefits will contribute to the strategic aims of the organization.
- Finance Section: Explain how much the project will cost and whether it is affordable. Detail the cash flow. Describe the expenses to execute (or not execute) the project in a cost comparison against forecasted benefits. Conduct a sensitivity analysis , a technique for determining how the different values of an independent variable affect a dependent variable.
- Financial and nonfinancial benefits
- Quality improvements
- Cost savings through efficiencies
- Added revenue
- Improved customer services
- Options: What are the possible solutions to the problem? Usually, you narrow this list to 3 to 5 viable choices. Frequently, you include a “do nothing” option and a benchmark option. Some organizations require the do-nothing option; others require it only if the do-nothing option is a legitimate possibility. Quantify the benefits of each potential solution. Also, outline the risks, issues, and interdependencies for each solution.
- What is required?
- How is it done?
- Who does what?
- When will things happen?
- Assessments or Analysis: Your analysis should list assumptions and consider cash flow and costs. Describe the risks of the project and the plans to deal with them. Also, discuss how you will leverage opportunities. Describe the context of your undertaking using PESTLE (political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental) analysis.
- Project Approach: Detail the organization of the project, including governance and accountability, roles and responsibilities, and the schedule of progress reporting. Describe the purchasing strategy for completing the endeavor. Will you lease equipment? Rent office space? Hire contractors or employees?
- Recommendation and Next Steps: Note the recommended solution and immediate required action.
- Appendix: Add supporting documentation here, such as spreadsheets, charts, or drawings.
Considerations for Executive Presentations
The sections that comprise a business case may vary depending on your house style and the type of initiative. Jim Maholic says, “I package my business cases this way: I set up a one-hour meeting, so I have maybe 20 slides, but 10 to 15 slides are plenty. In reality, I might have 100 slides, but I add those in an appendix.” You may have credible supporting information, but you don’t want to bore your audience of decision makers by slogging through each slide.
“They might allocate an hour, but honestly, you're going to get their attention for 10 to 15 minutes, and then they'll start checking email and stuff,” Maholic adds. “You really have to be crisp in how you do this and know where you're going.
“Start with, ‘We have this problem,’ followed by, ‘Here are the people that we talked to who validated that this is a problem. They offered ideas about solving this problem, so we could see this substantial benefit,’” he notes.
“What matters in an executive meeting is that I answer the main questions: What is the problem? What is the cost of not solving it? What are the benefits of solving it? And when do we see the benefits? You may address additional questions later in the meeting or after the meeting, on an individual, offline basis,” Maholic says.
Business Case Templates
Using templates, you can more easily create business cases because you can focus on your research and fill in the blanks. The following free, downloadable templates are customizable for your organization’s needs.
Business Case Presentation Template
You can lengthen this short PowerPoint presentation template to accommodate more detail. The business case presentation template includes spaces for describing the following elements: the project name, the executive summary, the project description, the financials, the recommended solution, the assumptions and dependencies, the options, and the benefits.
Download Business Case Presentation Template - PowerPoint
Simple Business Case Template
A simple business case template serves a small project or a small organization. It can cover extensive details if necessary. It includes spaces for describing the following elements of the case: the title, the executive summary, the business objective, the target users, the financials and costs, the assumptions and dependencies, the implementation strategy, the required resources, and the project governance and reporting.
Download Simple Business Case Template
Word | PDF | Smartsheet
Healthcare Business Case Template
A healthcare business case template helps you explain the current setup and how the proposed solution can create improvements. It provides space for a one-page executive summary, context for the problem or opportunity, a description of the current situation, an explanation of the proposed changes, and details of how the changes can affect your organization and any other entities.
Download Healthcare Business Case Template
Word | Google Docs
New Product Business Case Template
A new product business case template explores the business landscape for a new product or service. In addition to the meta information, such as the title, the author, and the executive summary, the template includes space to describe the current mission statement, the proposed product or service, the marketing strategy, an analysis of competitors, SWOT analysis , an overview of the implementation plan, and financial details.
Download New Product Business Case Template
Preparing to Write the Business Case
You can expedite your business process by understanding business case structure and using a template. In addition, having the correct perspective and following best practices can contribute to your success.
Why Are You Doing the Project?
Before you start researching and writing, understand why you want to initiate a project. The goal of a project is to solve problems. What is a problem? A problem prevents your organization from achieving its full potential. To begin, determine what problem the project is trying to solve.
Projects have deliverables, whether tangible or intangible. Think of an outcome as the result created by the deliverables. Benefits represent quantifiable improvements derived from an outcome. When a customer or team member can leverage these benefits, they become advantages.
Do Your Business Case Research
To start, review the mission statement(s) for the organization or the project. Identify the sources of data for your business case. One way to encourage the acceptance of your proposal is to discuss your rough estimates of the costs and resources with a project sponsor or customer before you embark on the business case. This helps you and the sponsor understand each other’s expectations and lessens the chance of sticker shock during the executive presentation. Then interview the people who conduct the day-to-day work and get their perspective on problems and possible solutions.
Do the Business Case Math
You must consider whether the returns justify the request. “If we're asking for $3 million, we've got to show that the project benefits far exceed that amount,” asserts Maholic. “With returns of $10, $15, or $20 million, you're going to get their attention. If you say the benefits are $300 million, they're going to think you've fallen off the truck somewhere, because that's not realistic. On the other hand, if you show benefits of $3.5 million for a cost of $3 million, that's probably not going to beat the projected return of any other project that comes across their desk.”
Consider Who the Business Case Is For
Whether the business case comes in document form or as a presentation, the project sponsor and key stakeholders will study it. Consider the key audience for each section of your document and write with that audience in mind.
The most convincing arguments for projects are those that your team can initiate and wrap up within six months, as well as produce considerable quantifiable results. Especially when big money is on the table, your proposal will compete with others from different departments. “No company has all the money it wants to invest in everything — it has to prioritize. The business case helps evaluate what the return will be for each of the projects that comes across the board's desk for approval,” explains Maholic.
Furthermore, a business case presents estimates. A business case should be built on sound research, but no one has a lock on certitude. “I think first-time business case writers in particular get caught up in building some great story. But seasoned executives get requests all the time, and they're not buffaloed by clever-sounding words or fancy spreadsheets,” Maholic cautions.
“Your ideas have to be rooted in something sensible, not just, ‘I bet we can raise revenues by 15 percent,’” he explains. Grand plans may be possible, but the key, according to Maholic, is to help decision makers understand how it is possible.
How Do You Write a Business Case?
When you have the main questions in mind and a sense of the required sections and format, you can begin to write. Consider limiting the number of authors to ensure an effective writing effort that’s consistent in style and voice. Then follow these tips:
- Concisely cover the core content with enough detail, so stakeholders can make an informed decision.
- Compare options, so decision makers understand the landscape.
- Be clear, concise, and captivating.
- Avoid jargon as much as possible.
- Demonstrate the value of the project to the business by creating a credible and accurate argument.
- Clearly describe the landscape for the initiative, including its dependencies. Enumerating these dependencies is crucial because contextual changes can alter the project parameters or eliminate the need for the project altogether.
- Focus on the business and the business value rather than the knowledge domain covered by the intended project deliverable.
How Do You Know You Have Enough Detail?
You determine the length of your business cases according to the scope and complexity of your proposed endeavour. A complex project means a long business case; a small, short project means a short business case.
However, Maholic cautions against adding too much detail — conciseness can be a challenge. “You may take 4 to 6 weeks to create a business. You might talk to 50 or 100 people. There's this gnawing urge in some people to show everything they've collected in the executive presentation. Look how hard we worked. Look how smart I am . That's just awful.
“You have enough data and slides when you can answer those 4 or 5 basic questions. There may be 100 other slides, but those are supporting detail,” he says.
Common Mistakes in Writing Business Cases
You can strengthen your business case by avoiding common mistakes:
- Forget What Your White Papers Say: Maholic finds that when salespeople create cases for customers, they frequently rely on the benefits outlined in a product’s white papers. He notes, “Saying your product cuts costs by Y percent is a great place to start, but it has to be balanced by what's in front of you regarding a particular customer.” He continues, “As a salesperson, you may say that your product can increase revenue by 5 percent. That may be true for past customers, but this particular customer may have three straight years of declining revenues. It's silly to say that a product is going to both arrest a decline and bump up revenue by 5 percent. You have to think things through. That’s the analysis part. You can't just mouth off.”
- Spreadsheets Are not the Main Show: "Too often, I think, people hear business case , and they jump right to building a spreadsheet,” Maholic says. “They're eager to build the mother of all spreadsheets and show how smart they are by demonstrating the mother of all spreadsheets. While certainly spreadsheets are necessary to show the math, the spreadsheet is only a small part of the solution. Spreadsheets don't really articulate the problem or indicate who you talked to or what you analyzed to get to that solution,” he adds.
- Arguments Do not Equal More Money: Sometimes, people believe that a strong case justifies a more generous price tag. Not so, says Maholic: “As a decision maker, having a better business case doesn't mean I'm going to roll over and say, ‘Sure, you can charge me an extra million dollars.’ A good business case means the project has the value to go forward. Now, we're going to start negotiating and I'm still going to work to get the best price I can. People who've done business cases before know that. But people who are new to them don't completely understand that.”
- Remember That It’s About Value, Not About Toys: For startups, the coolness factor of the technology or product may carry some weight, but for most organizations, a business case must focus on the business value without getting lost in the domain knowledge and technical details. Maholic explains: “Nobody at the executive level cares what the throughput ratio is of this process or that stack. What they want to know is, ‘Do I get revenue more quickly? Do I cut costs more deeply? Tell me what the value of doing X is, and then you can go off and buy whatever toys you want to in order to do X.’”
Steps to Produce a Business Case
Your organization may have a tribal understanding of the best process for creating a business case. Some employees may advocate for following the Ds , which refer to the steps to produce a business case. The Ds can include as many as six steps, but generally focus on these four:
- Discover your problem or opportunity.
- Design your solutions and alternatives.
- Develop the details that describe the pros and cons of each potential solution.
- Deploy the business case.
Some advocates add the Define step to the beginning of the process and the Deliver step to the end. For best results, create your business case in the following order:
- Determine your problem or opportunity.
- Research the context for your proposal as appropriate: When developing a new product, your research may focus on the market; when acquiring new training or software, you may review current internal processes; and when making a new purchase, you may interview dozens of team members who use current tools and procedures.
- Compare alternative approaches and recommend the most appropriate strategy.
- Gather supporting data and evidence for the recommended approach.
- Write the business case.
- Write the executive summary.
- Edit your business case draft.
- Present your business case to either the final authority or the personnel who will be instrumental in implementing the case plan.
Download Business Case Process Checklist
The Business Case in Project Development
Contrary to what you might imagine, the business case can be a living document. Starting with the review process, stakeholders may reject, cancel, postpone, accept, or adjust the business case. To some extent, the business case becomes the guidebook for your initiative. Stakeholders and the project manager should refer to the business case throughout the lifecycle of the project to ensure that efforts (and intentions) remain on track.
What Are the Features of a Project Business Case?
A well-considered business case offers the following characteristics: an easy-to-understand description of the business value of the initiative and the immediate benefits of the project, including details of the positive impact on organizational strategy.
How Do You Analyze a Business Case?
In university-level business schools, business case studies (or case studies) function as teaching tools to help students use their analytic skills. Case studies describe a company and how it employs a solution. Following is the suggested approach for students analyzing a case:
- Review the case in detail. Identify the key issues.
- Determine 2 to 5 essential problems.
- Look for solutions to those problems.
- Describe your recommended solution.
What Is a Full Business Case?
A business case is a structured, detailed document that presents the justification for the commitment of financial and other resources to an endeavor. Business cases help you gain the support of management and other stakeholders, as well as approval for projects and programs.
What Is a Business Case in Project Management?
An approved business case can have a long life. Although the project sponsor ultimately owns the business case, it is the project manager who uses the business case as the guidebook for expectations and dependencies. In addition, the business case becomes an important document in an organization’s project portfolio management process. During this process, a company balances its resources with its strategic objectives to determine the livelihood of all the projects it undertakes.
History and Origins of Business Cases
The formal business case has its roots in 19th-century Europe, particularly with the work of French-Italian engineer-economist Jules Dupuit. His contribution included statistical tools to identify, measure, and value the benefits beyond merely determining the lowest bidder. Specifically, Dupuit is credited with inventing what he called the benefit-cost analysis . Today, professionals recognize the value of business cases outside of public works and government. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations regularly use business cases.
Resources and Examples for Creating Your Business Case
If you’re new to business cases, you don’t have to start empty-handed. We offer resources to help you begin writing. Please see the following examples and templates:
- Here’s an example of a business case in a classic document format . This particular business case argues against a capital investment.
- This example presents three business cases for one higher education department . The presentation comes in a slide format.
- In this article, Jim Maholic offers a template for creating your business case .
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