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Project Portfolio Management

How to Build a Business Case

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

When considering how to build a business case for your project there are many factors to take into account. The most important of these are to:

  • Keep it concise, avoid using too much jargon and make it interesting for your audience
  • Explain the objectives of the plan
  • Demonstrate how your project will bring value to the business
  • Outline the process of implementation

Keeping your business case to the point

Many people believe building a business case must involve huge binders with reams of financial data, risk analysis and projections. While those things are important, they shouldn’t take up more than a few pages. Basically, you should be able to explain the case you are making in a short space of time, delivering only the essentials that the stakeholders will need to know. If you don’t think you can build a business case without overloading your audience with information or unnecessary jargon, then perhaps you should rethink the case itself. You should aim to convince stakeholders with the business case basics themselves, not by confusing them.

A standard structure would look like this:

  • Executive Summary
  • Objectives
    • Current Status
    • Benefits
    • Risk Assessment
    • Limitations
    • Resources
  • Plan of Implementation
  • Financial Assessment
  • Project Governance

Outlining your business case’s objectives

Keep your audience engaged by focusing on the main benefits of your plan and answering basic questions. Deliver the key takeaways about why your business case can help the organization and deserves attention. For example, if you’ve discovered that switching to new form of project management software could result in increases in productivity and accountability then you might focus on giving your audience the answers they’re looking for.

  • Why?
    • Reporting, updating and measuring progress currently take up 35% of our project managers’ time.
  • What?
    • Cloud based project management software can increase the efficiency of these processes.
  • How?
    • License the software and introduce team members to its functionalities.
  • When?
    • From sign-off on licensing the software should be fully integrated with teams within two months.


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Building a business case that delivers value

The driving force when deciding how to build a business case will be how to demonstrate the value your project will deliver. It is important to remember not to go overboard on the financial data you present however. Most stakeholders will be used to scanning financial reports for the business case basics or bottom line as regards value, but you can still make it easier by pulling the key figures that support your case and highlighting them on a page of summary analysis. This summary should list:

  • Current status of costs being incurred
  • Purchase price of solution
  • Costs of implementation
  • Projected savings

Defining the process of implementation

The stakeholders concerned, if satisfied with how you have been building your business plan so far, will want to know how it is going to be put into practice. To show that you have thought all of the process through it is important to have a clear idea of the costs, timelines and governance that will be involved.

Knowing how to build a business case also means having faith and confidence in what you are delivering. If you are certain of your information and vision for how it will help the organization, then that certainty will reassure your audience. Thus, delineating the steps in a concise manner is vital for building a business case that will be successful. Try answering the following questions for your business case:

  • When will it start?
  • Who needs to sign off?
  • Who is responsible for overseeing implementation?
  • What are the objective metrics to assess success?
  • At what stage are follow up reports due?

Most people, even in management positions, don’t know how to build a business case that will succeed in its mission, to win over your audience. By keeping everything to the point, being clear about your objectives, identifying the value the project will bring and explaining the implementation with clarity and confidence, you’ll already be well on the way to building a business case to be believed in.


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Written by Team AdaptiveWork