Business case document is a well structured formal document consisting of supporting information to get approval from some one in the senior management, for implementing a solution to resolve a specific problem or business need in the organization.
Each business case will be triggered from a specific problem or requirement. Hence it is essential to understand the problem from all perspectives.
A well written business case document consists of all possible alternative solutions to a specific problem along with effort, cost and resources required for each alternative solution, in order to enable senior management to choose optimum solution that will best fit the organization business need.
Business case Considerations
In order to complete the business case document certain information need to be captured, which requires in-depth analysis on the following:
- The problem or business need, which is the trigger for this business case.
- Also we should record alternative solutions to resolve the problem. Also high level estimations for cost, effort and resources required for each of the alternative solutions. Based on different parameters a recommendation for optimum solution may also be provided.
- Cost benefit analysis or project selection methodology used to select this project and writing the business case for the same.
- A detailed analysis on how this business case implementation will help in achieving organization strategic goals and objectives.
- Finally, other supportive information needs to capture from similar projects or historical data or from different teams in the organization to fine tune the business case document.
- Most importantly business case should chart out the benefits in all aspects, the project is going to get to the organization.
The rest of the blog provides explanation on different sections of a typical business case document.
Business case Template or Sample
As an example I tried to take a typical and simple business case to traverse through the contents.
Most of us knows about this section as this is primarily to provide a very high level or business level summary to make the senior management to understand the summary of the business case.
As part of executive summary the first section would start with a high level problem statement describing the issue or the business need which triggered this business case.
Optionally alternative solutions will also be described, just in case if there more than one solution identified during the business case.
There may be multiple solutions to address the business need. However only one solution is finally chosen after analyzing several parameters.
So this section will also describe the finally chosen solution with the justification to choose this solution.
This includes the stakeholders identified and involved in making this business case. This typically would be a matrix and tabular format which will capture the stakeholder information.
Typical stakeholder would be the sponsor, project manager (if identified already), business analysts, senior management, and other technical members involved in the solution.
Problem or Business Need
This is the section, you would define the business need or the problem at hand. This section should only talk about the problem or need, which triggered the business case, but not the solution.
Furthermore, this section also captures a high level impact analysis of the implementation of this business case.
This section starts with the overview of optimal or chosen solution. This section contains all technical information pertaining to the solution.
For example, this section will describe the scope undertaken as part of this project. Furthermore it may explain about the AS-IS architecture and TO-BE architecture of the technical implementation.
Also other technical details pertaining to the solution will go here. This is one of the input for the project team to start their technical activities.
Moreover this section also covers the assumptions pertaining to solution.
This section describes the organizations strategic objectives and how this project is going to align to the organization strategic objective and support them.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Here is the place where you provide you high level effort and cost estimates and also the benefits that the project is going to bring to the organization.
A cost benefit analysis would be documented to support the value proposition of the project.
Approvals and Sign off
This section contains a high level process of approvals from the relevant stakeholders to approve the business case. This section needs a formal sign-off on this document.
Project Statement of Work Vs Business case
There is a quite a bit of debates on this topic “the differences between project statement of work and the business case”.
So I thought of throwing some light on this topic.
First of all, the buyer prepares the project statement of work (SOW) towards the seller. The SOW describes about the work to be done as part of this project.
Seller takes the SOW as one of the primary input for the project to define the scope. More details about the SOW is available in the blog post procurement documents and procurement management process.
On the other hand, preparation of business case document happens much before the start of the project. And it primarily explains the problem or business need which triggered the business case.
A cost benefit analysis is the core component of the business case. Cost benefit analysis would support the value proposition of the project to address the business need.
Finally, we have traversed through the different section of a typical business case template. Also understood what a business case is all about.
Indeed this business case would help the project in understanding the benefits throughout the project duration. However the reality is once the project starts, in majority of the projects, we don’t revisit the business case.
So as a best practice the project manager has to take this business case as an input for the project to validate the benefits that the project is going to bring to the organization as a whole.
Finally, we have seen the primary differences between the project statement of work (SOW) and the business case.