Making the Case – Writing Compelling Business Cases

Making the Case – Writing Compelling Business Cases

writing business cases meeting

It seems to me that more and more projects fail because of poorly thought out business cases right at the very start of a project idea.

The TechRepublic says that the vast majority of unsuccessful projects fail not because of poor project management, but because of poor decisions with respect to the choice of projects.

A well-developed business case is an essential, but often overlooked component of any project, so much so that many project managers are unaware of the existence of a business case as a precursor to their own project or often blissfully unaware of the function or purpose of the Business case full stop.

Essentially, a business case makes the argument for a project to go ahead. There is no right or wrong way to put together a business case although some methodologies such as PRINCE2® predicate a pretty strict formula with a well tried and tested template.  The business case quite simply is a communication tool that is used to present the case and make the argument for a specific project to be supported and/or given the go ahead as well as the all-important funding to proceed.

Generally speaking a business case responds to an opportunity to generate revenue, cut costs or deliver some other benefit or, it might be in response to a mandated change and/or to correct a wrong. The business case provides the rationale or argument as to why the proposed solution or project should go ahead.

A well-developed business case provides decision-makers with all the necessary information they need to make an ‘informed’ decision, to ensure that the decision made is the best one for the organisation for example, the one that will return the highest profits to keep stakeholders happy.

At the heart of all sound decisions is a business case that examines the options, gathers the evidence and identifies the resources required and the benefits that might come from it.  A professionally developed business case ensures well targeted investment across the organisation, reduces risk, improves strategic alignment and increases the probability of achieving expected returns.

In the public sector, especially now with the austerity measures introduced by the Federal government and the anticipated slashing of government budgets, when they make an investment they need to be able to demonstrate that it is indeed worthwhile – basically, they need to show that they are spending the public’s money wisely.

writing business cases

But, how can you be sure you are looking at a good business case?  What makes it objective, competing and effective and how can you be sure your board or senior management team will endorse the case made?

Well, it’s not quite a straight forward as it sounds and neither should it be after all, writing a compelling business case can secure funding, ensure good governance and overall compliance. It engages stakeholders and ensures support and, it provides the basis or groundwork for ultimately managing the project.

The level of detail required in the business case will depend on the complexity and cost of the project or initiative proposed and these can range from large, multi-layered government projects or public/private partnerships (PPP), billion dollar multi-stage mining projects, grants, research funding, new product development,  change management initiatives, building/construction projects from the high rise to the single storey dwelling and on down the chain to a request for funding training for professional development.

There are many, many different business cases developed every-day. Unfortunately the care and attention to the details and the effort put in may not vary much from one of these examples to the next.

Likewise the people that prepare and write business cases as well as those that read and evaluate them vary enormously from Directors of public or private corporations, CFOs and senior management teams or boards, State or Federal Ministers or local government representatives, doctors and research fellows and so on.

There is a huge amount of variation in all these people’s skills and abilities to write a compelling, factual and objective case and/or to read and evaluate said business case and there is little doubt we could all do it better.

To this end, CAL is very pleased to announce that we now have a training solution to ensure you and your organisation don’t develop second rate business cases and poor evaluation methods that lead to poor decision-making, loss of money & reputation and ultimately bankruptcy.

So then what is CAL’s Solution?

An online program Titled: ‘Better Business Cases’

Better Business Cases is a systematic and objective approach to all stages of the business case development process. This program is built around the UK Treasury’s best practice approach to planning spending proposals and enabling effective business decisions. It is based on the Five Cases Model, which provides a step by step guide to developing a business case, by:

  • Establishing a clear justification for intervention – a case for change;
  • Setting clear objectives – what you want to achieve from the investment;
  • Considering a wide range of potential solutions – ensuring an optimal balance of benefits, cost and risk;
  • Putting the arrangements in place to successfully deliver the proposal.

Better Business Cases will enable your organisation to reduce costs using a standard, scalable and consistent approach that supports effective and efficient decision-making.

The following diagram illustrates the Five Cases which comprise the Full Business Case:

Five cases model

This course is now available online as a stand-alone short course or participants have the option to obtain global certification through APMG.

The online course comes with an exam simulator so, if you choose to do the exam and become certified then you can practice as often as you need to ensure you pass the exam and achieve the qualification.

Who is it for?

This online short course and/or qualification is aimed at anyone involved with a project or other major initiative so they can understand the work required to produce a Business Case.  The ideal candidates for the course will be:

  •       Senior Responsible Owners (SROs), Programme Directors, PMO Managers and Project Managers
  •       Directors of Finance and Procurement and Planning and other senior managers involved in planning & strategy
  •       Members of the Management Board with strategic responsibility for approving proposals
  •       Research unit managers and directors as well as research fellows and staff
  •       New product developers & entrepreneurs seeking start-up/seed funding/ venture capital etc.
  •      Tender writers and PPP staff

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