One-Page Business Case Template
If you have a straightforward but costly proposal, use this short business case template to make a concise list of what you want to do, why you want to do it, how you want to do it, who benefits from the project, and anything that could hinder the project’s success.
Project Business Case Template
Construction Business Case Template
This construction business case template includes sections for the many types of information and analysis a large construction project may require. It lists the types of documents needed to prepare for construction and includes detailed information on stakeholders and their interests. It also includes tables to help visually compare analyses. The project delivery or implementation details can form the basis for your project plan.
Simple Business Case Template
This simple business case template in Word addresses all the essential areas needed in a business case. Add as much information to each section as is necessary, or include other sections to reflect your own organization’s requirements.
PowerPoint Business Case Presentation Template
A simple Word document may provide a good way to document the reasons for, requirements of, and costs included in your business case. But visual representations can communicate vital facts quickly and may be necessary if you present your business case in a meeting. Use this template to visually communicate information.
IT Business Case Template
For enterprise-level changes, a business case may be necessary to justify costs, resources, and effort. This IT business case template provides space to discuss why you require the change, how you will source the new solution, and how you will manage the migration and implementation.
Download IT Business Case Template
Life Sciences Business Case Template
In addition to the usual content sections in a business case, this life sciences business case template includes blocks for version control and revision tracking.
What Is a Business Case?
A business case (also known as a business need) defines a problem or opportunity, measures the effect of a project that solves a problem or exploits an opportunity, and clarifies the costs and benefits of a proposed plan.
You need a business case when you have to justify a resource or expenditure on a project. Through a well-considered business plan, stakeholders and investors can determine whether the enterprise should invest resources in the project. A business plan also provides a structure for presenting findings and recommendations. Moreover, it offers a way to determine if the project aligns with an organization’s strategic objectives.
Although preparing a business case may seem like yet another document in a long chain of project management tasks, this front-loaded preparation is essential to the eventual success of any undertaking. When started before a project begins, a business case shows stakeholders — and even you — if the project is worth starting. It can reveal problems that could potentially waste time and other resources without yielding benefits. Without business cases, you have no way to prioritize projects. If you don’t clearly articulate the desired results before the project begins, investors and stakeholders can easily be dissatisfied or frustrated with the outcome. And, as the project progresses and ultimately concludes, you have no reference point for measuring achievement.
Inputs for a business case include such things as regulatory and legal requirements, changes in the market, and customer demand.
You can use a business case template as a guide so you remember to include all the necessary content. A template also offers formatting, so you don’t have to worry about layout and design.
The Business Case and Business Case Template Writing Process
Poor preparation and a lack of senior management involvement often contribute to eventual project failure. A good case study can help you avoid these pitfalls.
Start by consulting key people, such as the finance department, to get accurate estimates and details of the current situation and an idea of what improvements would look like. In addition, remember to follow any pertinent company policies and procedures while preparing the business case and elaborating on the proposed project.
When writing the business case, consider these pointers for success:
- Write in the voice of your readers and stakeholders, but avoid jargon as much as possible.
- Communicate concisely regarding the essential content.
- Be interesting, even entertaining.
- Be clear about your goals and how they can benefit the organization.
- Limit the number of authors to keep the voice and style consistent.
The Main Elements of a Business Case Template
Your business case is intended to provide sponsors, stakeholders, and investors with a clear picture of the outcomes and benefits of your project. In general, a business case contains the following particulars about a project:
- A high-level summary
- Financial information about the costs and benefits
- Details of the scope
- Benefits and risks
- Information about how the project will be managed
- Measurements for success
A sample business case template is available here for the management certification guidelines used in the UK, Australia, and other countries. The number of sections and detail of your business case will vary with the complexity and scope of your intended project. Typical elements include most or all of the following:
- An Executive Summary: Particularly in government or formal business situations, the executive summary may be the only part of the document that stakeholders, investors, the media, and other interested parties read. An executive summary must convey what will be done, who will do it, how much it will cost, and how and who it will benefit — in one page or less. Another gauge for length is that it should take no longer than five minutes to read.
- Purpose: The purpose of the project describes the background of the business problem or opportunity. It details how the change envisioned (by completing the project) will improve the situation.
- Alternatives: Researching and describing viable alternative options to the recommended project will help provide a more vivid context for the recommended solution. Presenting alternatives will also demonstrate to stakeholders that you’ve given your project healthy consideration and that it was not chosen arbitrarily.
- Strategic Alignment: Explaining how your plan fits into and advances the overall strategic direction of the organization is crucial. Stating project goals and objectives in this context can strengthen your case.
- Organizational Impact: Discuss how the proposed project will change the organization. Consider any relevant departments, equipment, processes, or roles. Stakeholder analysis (i.e., understanding the current situation and the requirements of each stakeholder) can contribute to this picture.
- Assumptions and Constraints: Be clear about any anticipated resources or limitations. For example, if funding from one agency is certain, note that. If success depends upon implementing a new platform, note that. The list of assumptions may grow and change as the project progresses. You may also consider any interdependencies that might affect the plan.
- Benefits: Articulate the anticipated outcomes to show how the entire organization gains and improves from your project. Examples of benefits are more customers served, less eye strain for service reps at workstations, or a roof patch ahead of storm season.
- Schedule and Costs: Outline the plan with a brief timeline for project development and completion, including major milestones. For technology projects, provide an overview of the migration plan, if required. On the timeline, add a cost benefit analysis and budget, possibly even with ongoing maintenance costs.
- Risks and Opportunities: Risks describe what could happen to delay or prevent the completion of the project or raise the costs of the project. Depending on the scope of your project, complete your market analysis by studying PESTLE factors (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental). For each risk you identify, include a mitigation plan.
- Recommendation and Justification: State the preferred option and summarize its risks and costs as well as the justifying factors that recommend it.
- Governance and Progress Tracking: Describe who is responsible for managing the project and who is accountable for supporting it. Indicate how progress will be measured and reported.
You may also want to include signature blocks for approvers, a table with the sponsor name, the names of anyone providing support or expertise to the document, a table of contents hyperlinked to first- and second-level headings, an appendix for attached worksheets and other supporting documents, and a glossary of terms. To title the document, follow the naming conventions of your organization and provide a version number, especially if the project is complicated and the business case is likely to go through revisions.
Who Is Involved in a Business Case?
The project sponsor prepares the business case in cooperation with team members and subject matter experts from the applicable areas, such as IT or finance.
Some companies may have dedicated project management offices. In that case, the project management office prepares the business case. If an outside organization requests support, that entity prepares the business case. The project sponsor and interested parties review the business case. Based on the business case, the project may be approved, rejected, altered, or postponed.
Tips for Creating a Compelling Business Case and Business Case Template
A business case may seem to require a lot of information, but you can keep it simple if you keep a few things in mind:
- Define the strategic role and goals of the project early in the case study.
- Create context for the project by discussing its history and background.
- Show similarities between the proposed project and previous successful projects. Also, discuss important differences.
- Don’t just show fixes to problems. Find opportunities where possible and highlight them in your case study.
- State the benefits that will occur once the project is completed.
Improve Your Business Cases with Smartsheet for Project Management
Writing an effective business case is critical to securing the resources you need to execute a successful project. Once your business case is approved, however, you’ll need a comprehensive project management tool that enables you to track and manage all project details and collaborate with stakeholders in real time.
Smartsheet is a work management and automation platform that enables enterprises and teams to get from idea to impact — fast. Top project management leaders rely on Smartsheet to help align the right people, resources, and schedules to get work done.
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