Project Management

5 Reasons why your project needs a business case

From the The Money Files Blog
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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from GirlsGuideToPM.com.

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How many of your projects got started just because someone said they should? When times are tough – and in the UK there is certainly a tightening of belts happening – we need to make sure we are working on the right projects.

The pipeline is so important, and that’s why your business case needs to stand out – so you can secure the funding to get the work going.

Don’t think business cases are necessary? Let me change your mind. Here are 5 reasons why your project needs a business case.

1. A business case shows your project aligns with strategy

We do projects to make a difference and deliver change within the organisation. That change should be aligned to the strategy because then we can be sure it delivers to the overall plan for the business.

Your project is more likely to get funding if you can demonstrate it supports the organisation’s objectives.

2. A business case shows the work is commercially viable

Do the numbers stack up? This is what we ask ourselves in our project office – all the time. However good the idea, the project has to be viable. You need to be able to secure the supplies, equipment or resources at a rate that makes it financially attractive.

Use the business case to show the rationale for make-or-buy decisions, or explain why you have selected a particular supplier.

3. A business case shows the project will be a long-term financial success

Part of the work involved in putting together a business case is the thinking. It means you’ve secured support from various parts of the organisation. It means you’ve done the maths. There is a justification for delivery and you can evidence the thought process that sits behind that.

Generally that means that there is a commercial reason for doing it: for example updating old equipment that supports bringing in new business, or launching something that will sell. You should show consideration for costs along the whole product lifecycle, including decommissioning anything that is no longer required and the cost of managing the asset once it is created.

4. A business case shows you’ve selected the right response to a challenge

Business cases typically make a least a nod to other options that have been considered and rejected. There should be an options appraisal section that looks at a range of solutions and summarises pros and cons.

The document focus on the solution you are recommending, outlining why that’s the best choice. It should be clear why that route forward is the best fit for the organisation’s goals and capacity to deliver.

5. A business case shows the project management structure is in place to support the work

It’s no good securing funding for an idea but not having the first clue about how to implement it. The business case will have a section on implementation plans, covering what resources are needed (and how much they cost) and how long it will take. There should be an outline, high level plan with milestones. There will probably be some high-level risks, assumptions and constraints – the bones of a project initiation document or charter.

Help decision makers understand what they are signing up to and what is required to deliver the change, should they go ahead and approve it.

That’s why you should have a business case. What other reasons can you think of? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on: November 02, 2022 08:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Good job in gathering these important content for the success of the project business case, Mrs. Harrin. What humbly I can suggest are two complements in terms of risk management assessment on the 3rd advice you recommended and to recurring to the organizational assets on the 4th:
3rd - include on the life cycle of the project/product the sustainability assessment in line with the aspects regarded to the operational processes necessary to implement it;
4th - confront the project/product to the lessons learned of similar strategic initiatives of the same level of investment indicating that in this new proposal were incorporated the improvements appointed in the past which certainly will be translated in reduction of resources usage.
Thanks for sharing and all the best in your initiatives.

Most projects are designed for business and profit and nice elaboration

You need to do a feasibility study in order to meet most of your business case reasons.

"The document should focus on the solution you are recommending, outlining why that’s the best choice."

I also recommend outlining what the effect would be of NOT implementing the project. I've found this to be a deciding factor in some business cases! Useful for some, but not all.

Thank you for sharing! I whould like to add two more reasons: 6) Like a compass that keeps project team on the right direction and 7) An agreement to achieve objectives of all stakeholers

Thank you for your comments!

@Khai: These are great additions. The document can also act as a communication and engagement tool to align stakeholders, definitely.

@Vagner: Thank you for these additions. Sustainability is really important.

@Katherine: Definitely! Good idea to mention scope exclusions for clarity.

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