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What is a Business Case?

Business Planning, Feasibility Studies

Defining a Business Case

Unlike a business plan, which is an operational roadmap for your business, a business case communicates the reasons for undertaking a project, with an objective of convincing decision-makers to approve action that will allow for the project to progress. Typically, these decisions are around funding approvals – either government or commercial investment.

Focus on the Goal

It’s important that any business case clearly explains the value of the project and gives information that the decision-makers need to feel confident in authorising actions to allow to project proceed.

They are also useful for providing a tool to communicate with stakeholders about your project and to secure political buy-in. They also offer the background work generally required for seeking government planning endorsements and approvals.

What to Include

Business cases include detailed descriptions of the project objectives and planned activities. They also delve into alignment with policy and strategy, look at the economic, financial and social implications of the project, along with development of a recommended funding strategy.

Business cases can be structured in a variety of ways, but there are certain elements you should include.

An Executive Summary is essential and should be presented at the beginning of your document. You should aim to write this last and make sure it summarises the rest of the proposal. Basically, when an investor is pressed for time and needs a quick snapshot of your business case, they should be able to find it here. It should summarise the rest of the document, excite the reader, and instil confidence in the value of your proposal. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be an essay – all you need is a compelling summary that is brief and straight to the point.

At a basic level, we suggest you also include the following elements:

  • A description of the project
  • The project objectives
  • The benefits of the project
  • Estimated costs
  • Project risks

Often business cases will include a cost-benefit analysis and the projection of whole of life costs for any infrastructure. This last bit is important! What it means is you’ll look at more than just what will it cost to do this but also what the long-term implications are for managing the program or asset.  This also means you’ll know up front whether you can afford to go ahead or not.

A version of this blog post first appeared on Anna Dixon Consulting’s website, our previous brand.

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