As a manager, director, or project lead, you are tasked with creating a project, assembling your team, and then leading the project to completion.

And although your company may not require approval for every new project, it’s still vital to get buy-in from all parties involved. Without everyone on board from the start, no matter how great your results, people will question if your project was really worth the time and money spent.

So how do you ensure everyone understands the project and how it will benefit the organization?

You write a business case.

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What is a business case in project management?

A business case in project management is a written document that explains the central benefit of a project, justifies why it is being initiated, and explains why the cost is worth it. It also details how a project aligns with company goals.

By writing a plan for your project, you can communicate what results to expect. It also serves as insurance that you do have a well defined project before beginning to work on it.

Any person from a project manager to a public relations account executive to a person pitching a new product to C-suite management should create a business case.

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How to write a business case

Now that you know some of the benefits of a business case, how do you write one? What are the key components to include in your plan? Here’s what your business case document should include.

1. What is the goal?

The first step of your plan is to define your executive summary.

What goal is being met with your project?

In other words, are you solving a specific problem or does your project create a new business opportunity?

It’s also important to define why now is the best time for this project. For example, maybe your major competitor is rolling out a similar project at year end and you want to stay ahead of it.

2. What are the options?

After laying out the options, the next step in writing a business case is highlighting the best solution for your project.

Make sure to include how you came to this conclusion, putting weight on your strategic approach and the financial implications of your selected option.

Your recommendation should be backed up with evidence or rational so that there’s no question that this is the right path.

3. What do you recommend?

After laying out the options, the next step in writing a business case is highlighting the best solution for your project.

Make sure to include how you came to this conclusion, putting weight on your strategic approach and the financial implications of your selected option.

Your recommendation should be backed up with evidence or rational so that there’s no question that this is the right path.

4. How will your plan be implemented?

Finally, after you have laid out the best way to run your project, discuss how will it be implemented.

Highlight the tools and processes you will use to get the project done.

You want to show all parties involved how you plan to run your project from start to finish. This is a good time to consider using Agile project management software, where you can lay out your strategy, assign team members specific tasks, collaborate, and create a visual workflow for your project.

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Example of a good business case

Sometimes it’s helpful to use a scenario to demonstrate the steps of writing a business case. 

Let’s say, for example, your company is in the fast food business and has franchisees. You want these franchisees to use solar-powered roofing tiles to save money on operating expenses. 

However, up front, it will require an added expense that will be paid partly by you (the company) and partly by them (the franchisees). So you need buy-in from the franchisees on using these new roofs.

  • What is the need?

In this example, the need is a way to cut operating costs for the franchisees.

By installing solar-powered tiles, roofs will hold up to the elements better, last longer, and will reduce electricity costs — all helping the businesses save money.

  • What is the opportunity?

Next, you need to prove that the solar panel roofs you are suggesting can be easily adapted to all franchisee buildings.

You want to make this decision an easy one for franchisee buy-in. So make sure to answer all questions in your business case that franchisees may ask.

This could be:
“Are these tiles more durable than regular shingles?”
“Will these stand up to the elements at my location?”
“Will these be approved by my city?”

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  • What is the effort?

As much as people like saving money, they also don’t want to add more to their to-do list.

Your business case needs to detail what effort the franchisees need to take in order to get these new roofs installed.

If you plan ahead, such as getting pre-approval for the new roofs from the cities, printing off permit forms, and creating an easy system for ordering the correct roofing tiles, you eliminate the burden on the franchisees.

  • What are the alternatives?

Next, you need to define what the alternatives are for new roofing.

List the various shingle options and the costs that go along with these.

Define why these options may cost less up front, but in the long run, will not provide the same cost savings that solar-powered panels do. Plus, you may mention becoming energy efficient as a strong selling point in gaining new customers.

  • Draft your business case analysis

Now that you have done the research, demonstrated the alternatives, and shown your franchisees why solar-powered shingles are worth it, start writing a business case using the steps we have outlined above.

You can keep it simple or add charts, graphs, and other visuals to make your case.

Put your creative business proposal ideas into action

Writing a business case that wins approval is easy if you follow a simple template.

Just remember to stay organized, do diligent research, and keep your audiences’ needs top of mind.

Once your project moves forward, remember to use project management solutions to keep your team accountable to properly executing each step of your project. After all, a good project idea is just a thought if it can’t be put into action.