Detail the benefits, cost, approaches and timescale of your proposed project.
You've got some great ideas for improving the way your department delivers what's required of it. But how do you get approval for your projects to go ahead? And how do you ensure that you receive the resources you need to complete them successfully?
The answer is this: by creating a proper business case document. In formal projects, a business case is the main deliverable from the Strategy and Business Case Project Phase. It's one of the key documents that senior managers review when deciding whether to give a project the funding it needs to go ahead. In the business case, you detail the benefits that the project will deliver, how they'll be achieved, what it will cost, and how long it will take.
There are a number of other benefits that come from writing a business case:
To get the biggest advantage from this, think about how you can get your most important stakeholders involved. For example, you could consult with them before you put the business case together – or, alternatively, you could get their input when writing your business case, and get their feedback on early drafts.
Several of the articles within the Building Support for Your Projects section of our Project Management area will help you here. In particular, look at our articles on Working with Project Sponsors, Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Management, the RACI Matrix and Influence Maps.
Each business case should include several core components. The level of detail needed within your document will depend on the stage that the project is at, and on the level of complexity and investment required in the project. For example, in a complex project, you may need to submit an initial business case to seek approval of the project in principle. This would then lead to the release of preliminary funding, so that the project manager can produce a full business case, with a detailed analysis of scope, costs, and benefits. Approval of this detailed business case would then release funding for the project to be implemented in full.
On the other hand, a project to change an existing standalone IT system to deliver a legal requirement may be quick to implement, because it's self-contained, and has minimal impact. In this case, the business case may be only a few pages long.
Most organizations have a rigorous, careful process for allocating funds to projects. They may also have a set of priorities or considerations against which projects are assessed. Investigate the templates and guidelines available within your organization before you start writing your business case.
The core business case components are as follows:
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