Q. How do I write a business case?

What is a business case, and how do I write one?


Answer

Business Cases Defined

A business case is used to provide rationale or justification for a particular action or new approach to doing something. It includes analysis of costs, benefits, and risks of the action in comparison to likely alternatives, and provides a step-by-step plan for the new action (Gambles, 2009). According to Harvard Business Review Press (2011) examples of a few scenarios where it would benefit a company or an employee to write a business case include:

  • Highlighting the benefits of a proposed new product or service
  • Reviewing current projects and streamlining for efficiency and impact
  • Requesting additional financial or resource support for a current project
  • Investing in new software or services for the company

In all of these examples, the business case is written to justify or demonstrate the value of the new product, project, or approach.

Steps for Developing a Business Case:

  1. Define or describe the proposed action, and how it will impact business objectives
  2. Identify potential alternatives to the proposed action
  3. Gather information and determine a timeline for the proposed action and its alternatives
  4. Thoroughly investigate and analyze each alternative and how they will impact the business
  5. Make your decision based upon the analysis you've completed and potential risks
  6. Create an implementation plan describing key players and their roles
  7. Draft the business case - usually this is a written document or a presentation

Drafting Your Business Case

  • Write for your audience
    • Include information that is relevant for your audience. Ask yourself what business objectives they care about, and tailor your business case for them.
    • Avoid potentially confusing jargon.
    • Clarify what you want from your audience.
    • Think about the risk tolerance of your audience, and address items they may be concerned about.
    • Determine the best way to relay the business case to your audience (written document, presentation, executive summary, other?).
  • Consider visuals
    • If a written document is required, consider including relevant images (graphs, charts, tables, etc.) to further explain your case.
  • Thoroughly explain the steps you took in developing your case (your proposal).
  • Keep it simple and limit unnecessary words or distracting elements (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011).

Formatting

Many businesses provide formatting guidelines and templates for developing or presenting business cases. Since you will be creating a business case for your course assignment, carefully read the instructions or ask your instructor if they have specific formatting expectations. A sample business case template is available in the Readings area below; if you want to use this template, confirm with your instructor that it is acceptable for your assignment. 

APA

APA doesn't provide any specific guidelines for writing a business case, so if your instructor or the instructions mention "APA formatting" this simply means that you should likely include a title page, cite your sources in-text and in a references page, and to follow APA formatting guidelines such as 1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font, etc. Visit the APA Guide for additional APA information.

Business Case Readings:


References

Gamble, I. (2009). Making the business case: Proposals that succeed for projects that work. Retrieved from 

https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=nlebk&AN=270947&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s9076023&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_Cover

Harvard Business Review Press. (2011). Developing a business case. Retrieved from 

https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=nlebk&AN=675118&site=eds-live&custid=s9076023

  • Last Updated Dec 10, 2019
  • Views 69
  • Answered By Kate Anderson, Business Librarian

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