Categories: business case
Getting projects off the ground at the moment is hard: it seems to me that there is a lot more scrutiny on business cases because everything is more expensive. At least, in the UK, prices of everyday things are going up and that is hitting businesses as well as household budgets.
So what can you do? When you want to prove your project is worth the investment, your business case if your first line of defence. Let’s look at how to present your project in the best possible way so you can convince everyone that it’s worth progressing.
Show it aligns to strategy
We know that not all projects have to have strategic alignment: some are just tactical or must-do obligations. But if your project does align to strategy, you should find it easier to secure the commitment to progress.
Provide the evidence and show that the proposal fits with the current strategic aims. Show that it is complementary within the portfolio and (ideally) fills a needed gap. If there are organisational KPIs or targets that your project could/would support, make sure those are called out.
Show the change is required
Most projects are ultimately discretionary. If you want your project to secure funding, you’ll have to show that it’s necessary to do the change – or at least highly beneficial.
Evidence that you understand the business problem and that your project is the solution. Point out any current business risks or issues and explain how your project will address these. If you can talk here about the future goals for the organisation, the future business needs and link your project into those, that would be beneficial too.
Be realistic: talk about the constraints and assumptions you are making, and any risks and issues to the project known at this point.
Show how you get from here to there
Set SMART objectives – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely – for the project and spell them out in the business case. Make it obvious that you can evaluate success and that there are clear goals.
Document the project management and governance approach you plan to take to deliver the work, to show that it’s achievable. Spell out any additional resources required and show that there is capacity to deliver – or that you can source and secure the resources needed and that these are included in the proposal. Be really clear about what’s included in scope.
List the outputs and provide some narrative about what the world will look like post-project. For example, talk about the new capabilities the organisation will have, and how these can be sustained over the longer term.
The business case needs to be honest, but it also needs to be a well-written story that sets out the problem, the case for change, and what that change would be. There are more elements to a good business case than simply linking it to strategy, but this should be the very foundation of your documentation. If the project isn’t a good idea, or one that helps the organisation move closer to where it wants to be, the best financial analysis section in the world won’t get it through the PMO.