5 Steps to Develop a Solid Business Case
Here is our Five Steps Business Case Framework, a comprehensive guide on how to write a business case and the steps to build a business successfully.

5 Steps to Develop a Solid Business Case

 What is a Business Case? 
As organizations and companies become more focused on delivering real business value, it becomes increasingly essential for the board of directors and senior executives to focus their attention on investments that deliver true value. Initiatives throughout the organization, including new products and services, innovations, CAPEX proposals, IT projects, investment opportunities, new business ventures, and factory relocations, are either accepted or rejected based on their business value.

To gain the approval of the board, the executive team, or external stakeholders and investors, it's crucial to construct a robust business case using a well-structured business case template that demonstrates why the project is needed and what the benefits of the project will be when it is finalized. The reasons and benefits of a project may seem perfectly obvious to you and others intimately involved with it; however, they may not be so apparent to stakeholders and other decision-makers. Often, they deal with a myriad of business units, objectives, and tasks that need to be done. Therefore, a well-prepared business case can help your project stand out amongst the competing priorities within the organization and may be the key to getting approval and finances for the project.

The business case is a process of critically examining the business opportunities, alternatives, project stages, and the financial investment involved in developing a business case document.

Business Cases Help Organizations Make Better Investment Decisions.
A Business Case is Different to the Business Plan

Think of your business case as a sales pitch with robust analysis and justification, drawing insights from a variety of business cases examples to ensure a comprehensive approach. The business case is one of the most powerful decision-making tools available to the organization's leadership team. It is a decision-making tool that provides the leadership team with an assessment of a particular decision's investment, benefits and risks.

A business case answers the question: what will happen if we proceed with this investment decision? The justification for the business case is presented in a carefully constructed document detailing the rationale to convince a decision-maker to approve the investment recommendation.

The business case process helps organizations formulate innovations, projects and changes. The business case document is a crucial building block of project success with senior-level involvement. It explains the project's business value to enable the stakeholders to make decisions.

The fundamental questions to consider in developing the business case are:
  • Which alternatives should we invest in to generate the most value for the organization?
  • Are other alternatives more profitable?
  • Will this investment deliver benefits of high value?
  • Is it strategically the best approach?
  • Should the organization consider investing at all in this proposal?

The practical question must also be addressed: can the business proposal be implemented as planned, delivered on time and budget and produce the expected benefits?

Making a business case will carefully examine the benefits and risks involved in proceeding with the recommendation, the alternatives and the benefits of the recommendation, and the risks of not proceeding. A strong business case will make a compelling recommendation for implementation.

In comparison, a business plan is a documented set of business goals, objectives and strategies that an organization aims to achieve over the next three to five years. The business plan includes market information, customer segmentation, products and services, sales forecasts, cost estimates, and financial forecasts.
Why Create the Business Case?
Preparing the business case enables you to take a disciplined approach to critically examine the opportunity, the alternatives, the project stages and the financial investment to recommend the best course of action to create the business value.

When the time is taken to develop a solid business case, the investment proposal is much more informed. In turn, this will increase the project's benefits and value and reduce the risks. As a result, there is a much greater likelihood of securing support to proceed with the investment.

A solid business case is required when you need to:
  • Demonstrate the value a proposed product or service would generate for your organization. 
  • Obtain board approval for the investment. 
  • Decide whether to outsource a particular function. 
  • Relocate business operations and manufacturing facilities. 
  • Prioritize projects within your organization that are competing for funding and resources. 
  • Secure the financial funding and resources to implement the project.

By well-documenting the business case, you can proficiently present the recommendation to stakeholders whose support is required for approval. In addition, the documented business case will provide confidence and a level of certainty that the considered proposal will be successful.
Advantages of Business Cases and Utilizing Business Case Templates 
The business case document or presentation communicates the high-level information relevant to a critical decision.

The business case discusses the required funding for a potential investment project. Then, it is your sales pitch!

Developing business cases offers real advantages:
  • The business case helps to identify and evaluate alternatives and to compare their relative costs and benefits. A business case is a tool for strategic planning and decision-making.
  • The purpose of the business case is to outline the organization's plan for the project - risk, return, the investment required, time and financial break-even and other elements.
  • Aligning stakeholders' expectations to the project's approach, outcomes and benefits of an initiative.
  • It increases the likelihood of a project's success.
  • The business case, especially if crafted using a business case framework, can be seamlessly turned into a project plan. It highlights the project's milestones and how to apply the project resources.
  • It is easier to see success.
  • The strategy section puts the business case into context, explaining why the organization is looking to invest.
  • The justification gives a detailed breakdown of the costs, revenue, and net impact of the investment, presenting the case for the investment.
  • It explains the risks and opportunities associated with the recommendation.
  • Projects fail without having a solid business case to support them. The business case document is necessary to start a project and is the basis for the project charter and the project plan.

The 5 Steps to Developing a Solid Business Case Framework
The process of developing the business case is essential; a well-executed strategy enables you to create a solid business case that increases the benefits and value and reduces the risks. It also increases the likelihood of securing support to proceed with the investment.

Here is our Five Steps Business Case Framework. It’s a simple, easy-to-follow and effective way of developing your business cases for the board, the executive team, the business owners, external stakeholders and investors.

The five critical steps for creating the business case are:

Step 1: Confirm the Opportunity

Describe the situation and the business opportunity that your proposal will impact. This will include the background to the project, the investment logic and the high-level business requirements.

We develop the strategic logic for the business case. Then, we define how the project supports the organization’s strategic objectives. It’s much easier to justify the business case if you can show how it helps achieve one or more strategic objectives. Then, we get the sign-off from our business case project sponsor.

Step 2: Analyze and Select the Short-listed Options

Identify the alternative approaches and select three or four options to analyze. Gather information about each alternative, analyze the options and develop the shortlisted options.

We develop a long list of alternative solutions before selecting our short lists of options.

The longlist should include a wide range of reasonable options and a detailed evidence-­based assessment to determine a shorter list of these options.

Step 3: Evaluate the Options

Evaluate how the options will deliver the business objectives, quantify the benefits of each potential solution, and then select the preferred option, taking into account the strategic, financial and societal value created and the risks.

Quantifying the business benefits is central to strategic planning, financial, cost-benefit, and business case analysis. So first, we develop the financial projections. This includes the detailed revenue and operational cost model and financial model. Next, we create the cash flow statement for our discounted cash flow projections (or DCF) analysis. Finally, we confirm the hurdle rates are the minimum acceptable internal rates of return for investments, which is an essential metric for investors, private equity firms and management teams to evaluate potential opportunities.

Step 4: Develop the Implementation Strategy

Create the implementation plan for the preferred option, detailing how to achieve the business objectives, the resources needed, the project team, who will be accountable for each milestone, and how to mitigate the project risks.

In these steps, you confirm the total project cost. In addition to estimating the total project cost, we break down the project costs for each milestone.

This step helps you quantify the CAPEX costs and the ongoing costs.

Step 5: Develop the Recommendations and Get the Approval from Decision-Makers

The objective is to get approval from the board, executive team, external stakeholders or investors for the business case.

Confirm the recommended option. Create the business case documents and present the business case recommendation to the board, executive team or investors for approval to proceed.

It's writing the business case, a pervasive document recommending your organization's best course of action.

How you frame the business case recommendations is essential. The proper business case structure helps the decision-makers understand what needs to be done and why. It also provides information about how much time and money will be required to complete the project.

It answers the questions the board, executive team, external stakeholders, and investors will ask. What are the risks? What are the upsides? What is the cost of doing nothing? What is the financial impact of this investment?

When presenting the business case to the executive team, the board and stakeholders, you must be strategic and persuasive. You must clearly articulate the problem, propose a solution, and highlight the potential benefits. Our article How to Present a Winning Business Case has all the details to help you out.

How To Write a Good Business Case and Steps to Develop a Solid Business Case Plan?
You must complete all these steps to create a solid business case.

Our Five Steps Business Case Framework helps you write a business case that can help you get the resources you need to get the approvals and manage and implement a successful project.

What to Include in the Business Case Document?

A compelling business case outlines the expected benefits of this investment decision.

The business case document should explain the following: 

  • The investment decision.

  • Key objectives for the project.

  • The business needs.

  • The project definition. Provide necessary background and supporting information to put the investment into context.

  • Describe how the investment aligns with the organization's strategic business plan.

  • Describe the different options explored and why you are recommending this option or solution.

  • Provide a robust budget, an estimate of the whole-of-life costs of the investment and its financial benefits and the projected financial statements.

  • The business benefits include an estimate of the non-financial benefits.

  • How to make sustainability core to the recommendation and outcomes.

  • Describe the implementation approach, including timelines, resources, the procurement strategy, project governance, and how to embed sustainability practices.

  • Rigorously assess the inherent risks, different scenarios and sensitivities, including how they are likely to affect the investment and outline strategies for mitigating them.

  • Convey the level of uncertainty surrounding the proposal.

  • Provide options for the board and management to consider in reaching a decision.

In large organizations, there are often guidelines defined for the business case writer to help them write what's called an "investment appraisal" for their business case.

Who Prepares the Business Case?

Any leadership or professional role may assume responsibility for producing and writing the business case if the decision-makers trust that individual. Thus, executives, business leaders, project managers, business analysts, internal and external consultants, and IT managers are included.

The project sponsor or project manager may lead the development of the business case.

The goals of the recommended project, the project customers, users and stakeholders, and the business outcomes and benefits are more important than technology, domain knowledge, or deliverables in a robust business case.

The business case lead or writer focuses on evaluating, analyzing, quantifying and delivering the business value. Poor project results can result from insufficient attention to the details of a business case and accompanying analysis.

 What’s the Level of Detail Required in a Solid Business Case? 
The depth of analysis documented to support your case will be based on the size and complexity of the investment decision.  For example, the business case for an investment of $5m or less is much simpler than the business case for an investment of $500m or more.

The business case sets out a justification for the investment that a potential investment would require.

Preliminary and Full Business Cases

A preliminary business case is often prepared for large investments and high-risk projects as the first step in preparing the full business case. Then, it is used to decide whether the potential project merits being investigated in more detail. For example, the preliminary business case may include cost estimates with a 20% tolerance, whereas the full business case would include costings with less than a 10% tolerance.

The business case should be prepared early in the project before any decision has been made to initiate. It allows the organization to explore high-level options for meeting business requirements. This may include an assessment of comparable projects.

Experienced organizations may have in-house expertise allowing them to prepare a business case. However, some organizations will not have the full range of skills required and may wish to appoint an independent management consultant to assist them.
Types of Business Cases - Examples
These eight business case examples highlight the essential information required in developing business cases for recovery and growth.
1. New Product Business Cases
New product business cases justify the investment in developing a new product.  They are created to evaluate the merit of the new product idea by determining the costs and revenues associated with the product.

This business case example justifies the investment to introduce a product or service into a highly competitive market.

The business case addresses:
  • Strategic positioning of the new
  • product/service/innovation in the market.
  • Market demand and pricing.
  • The Go-to-Market strategy.
  • The product and production feasibility and the financial viability of a new product.
  • Most new product business cases include a roadmap describing a new product's development.
  • Service delivery model.
  • Customer service and supporting clients and channel partners.
2. Equity Investment / Finance Business Cases
The equity investment business case is a detailed document to present the case for financing an investment opportunity. It outlines the proposed investment, the projected return on investment, and the risks involved.

The business case focuses on how to finance the investment, such as whether or not debt or equity financing would be most appropriate. In addition to presenting the financial details, the business case describes how the funding will be used.

The business case addresses:
  • The opportunity and return on investment for the investor or financier.
  • How does the business or joint venture scale up to achieve the projected growth?
  • The proposed investment, the projected return on investment, and the risks involved.
  • How to finance the investment, such as whether or not debt or equity financing.
  • How will the financing be used? First, it details where the funding will be applied to the business, such as capital, working capital, operating expenses, etc.
  • Explains the return on investment (ROI) from the investment.
3. CAPEX Business Cases
CAPEX business cases are documents that show the financial justification for planned capital expenses.

CAPEX includes the costs of purchasing new or replacing existing physical assets, the cost of acquiring, constructing, or refurbishing a building, and the costs incurred in starting up a new business.

To win the approval of a CAPEX business case, you need to demonstrate that its benefits outweigh its costs.

The business case for a CAPEX project will include details about how the project will save the company money.

These details may consist of benefits like reduced operating costs, increased efficiency, improved revenues, and new or improved capabilities.

A high-risk CAPEX project offers the potential for a high return on investment but comes with a high level of uncertainty. Therefore, it is not a viable investment without a detailed business case that clearly shows how it will benefit the company.

The business case summarizes all the factors that make a CAPEX project worth investing in. It summarizes the financial, strategic, operational, and organizational factors influencing the decision. 
4. Customer Experience Business Cases
Customer experience (CX) refers to how customers perceive your brand based on their exposure to it. Therefore, customer experience is the sum total of the customer’s perception of your organization.

Customer experience business cases recommend a project or initiative to improve client experience.

The business case makes the recommendation for the decision-makers to approve the project, funding and resources.

The business case explains:
  • How the client experience will be improved
  • How improving the customer experience (CX) will impact the bottom line.
  • How can the investment in CX reduce operational costs, such as the cost to serve?

The critical CX metrics:
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Customer Churn
  • Annual recurring revenue
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Customer long-term value
  • The return on investment (ROI).
5.  Program Office Business Cases
The program office is the corporate entity that provides strategic oversight of the entire organization’s portfolio of projects.

Business cases to establish the program office describe and recommend what the program office needs to do to accomplish the strategic objectives.  These business cases justify a new work program for the organization's board of directors. These documents are written from a business perspective rather than a technical one.

Developing a business case is an essential function of the program office, outlining and recommending the commercial justification for business and IT projects.

The program office must develop compelling business cases to create value and recommend the best option. These business cases establish the project's detailed requirements that the project must meet and cost estimates. In addition, the business case describes the commercial justification for each project. Finally, the financial justification details the financial implications of each activity within the projects.
6. Software as a Service Business Cases
A Software as a Service (SaaS) business case is used for evaluating a SaaS solution or service and recommends whether a company should implement the SaaS solution or service.

The business case explores the potential solutions, beginning with the organization's needs. From there, the business case evaluates the potential costs and benefits and considers potential obstacles, such as limited scalability. Finally, the business case suggests the approach that should be taken.

The business case recommends the decision-makers approve the SaaS project, funding and resources. It explains:
  • The business problem you are solving.
  • How the client experience will be improved.
  • How the solution features match business needs and align with the strategic objectives.
  • How the SaaS solution will be maintained, supported and serviced.
  • The strategic, financial and client outcomes and quantifies the benefits.
  • The return on investment (ROI).
  • The implementation approach, milestones and required resources.
7.  Government Grant Business Cases
A government grant business case is the document a business submits to a government authority for grant funding.

It is an important part of a grant proposal. It illustrates why the grant request is a good investment.

This business case justifies the investment to expand or diversify the business and achieve the government’s policy outcomes.

The business case addresses: 
  • Why is a government grant needed?
  • The expansion strategy and the proposed investment.
  • The market demand, export growth and import replacement.
  • The roadmap to expand the business.
  • The jobs growth from the investment.
  • The outcomes for the industry or sector.
  • How will the grant bring forward the investment?
  • How will the business fund its contribution?
8. Infrastructure Business Cases
Infrastructure business cases are economic business cases to justify infrastructure projects or significant industry or sector projects.

Major infrastructure projects take many years to build and cost multiple billions. They also employ thousands of workers at their peak. Several business cases are developed along the investment journey until the final business case is approved. Multiple options are explored and analyzed to create the best possible business case. Then the shortlist options are evaluated in detail to recommend the best option. These types of business cases also address environmental impacts.

Three types of business cases are developed in high-risk, high-value projects:
  • Strategic or Initial business
  • Preliminary business case
  • Full business case

The preliminary business case or feasibility study can be more than 1,000 pages, including appendices costing several million dollars. The full business case can cost millions and take at least 12 months to develop, including significant community consultations.
Successful Business Case Examples
Chase Consulting has been developing business cases for over twenty years. A common characteristic of our successful business cases is that we followed the Five Steps Business Case Framework for developing business cases and used a comprehensive set of business case templates. This approach ensured that we created high-quality business cases, saving us time and increasing productivity.

A robust business case is at the heart of all new initiatives and significant business decisions.

Here are six successful business case examples:
  1. Improving the customer experience (CX)
  2. Business expansion to enable revenue growth
  3. Accelerated investment to enter new markets - Government grant business case
  4. Equity investment to scale up the business
  5. Customer service improvement
  6. Service planning to meet population growth
 Business Case Success Factors
These six business case examples were successful because we clearly articulated:

The Recommendations and the Investment Decision
  • We framed the recommendations for the decision-makers in a way that clearly communicates the value of getting the approval to proceed.

The Strategic, Financial and Societal Benefits
  • We used an evidence-based approach to recommend the preferred option.
  • We focused on business benefits realization.

The Options Analysis and Scenario Analysis.
  • We strategically evaluated the shortlisted options.

The Project Financials
  • We strengthen these business cases by including solid financial analysis, such as Net Present Value, Rate of Return, Profit to Investment Ratio and Discounted Pay-Back Period.

Deliverability and the Implementation Plan
  • We developed a feasible project plan, planning each milestone and addressing the implementation risks.

The Risks
  • We identified, analyzed and evaluated the major risks, recommending mitigating actions to increase the project’s overall success.
AI Tools for Developing Business Cases
Introducing My Business Case Generator: AI Tools to Increase Capacity and Productivity
Introducing the "My Business Case Generator". It's revolutionary and perfectly aligned to the Five Steps Business Case Framework. With just a few clicks, you'll have a perfectly outlined business case document draft in 5 minutes. Gone are the days of spending hours and days on tedious work.
Detailed Breakdown of AI Tools:

1. Rapid Business Case Creation:
Forget the long hours or days previously spent drafting a business case. With our Rapid Business Case Creation tool, you can generate a fully customized business case draft tailored to your specific topic in just 5 minutes. This tool not only saves time but ensures that your document is structured and detailed, aligning perfectly with industry standards and "business case template" expectations.

2. Fast Project Plan:
Project planning is now a breeze with our Fast Project Plan tool. In merely 3 minutes, create a comprehensive project plan complete with instructions. This AI tool simplifies the planning process, allowing you to focus on strategy and execution rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of plan creation.

3. Persuasive Slide Deck:
The ability to persuade and engage stakeholders is crucial. Transform your business case into a compelling slide presentation with our Persuasive Slide Deck tool in just 5 minutes. Tailored to highlight your business case's key points, this tool ensures your presentation aligns with your goals, making it an indispensable asset for winning support and approval.
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 Before You Start Your Business Case: Key Components and Considerations
If you want to be sure that your business case is the best that it can be, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:
  • Think of your business case as a sales pitch with robust analysis and justification - you are creating a compelling business case.
  • The process of developing a business case - use our Five Steps Business Case Framework
  • Use the proven business case templates so you can easily start your business case without all the headaches.
  • Write the business case for decision-makers to approve your recommendations.
  • Present the business case as a persuasive presentation.
  • Consider getting business case help.

To get funding for your opportunity, you need a strong business case. It will help you get up and running as soon as possible.

Our free Business Case Guide explains the 5 Steps to Developing a Solid Business Case.
Get the Business Case Guide.
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Need Business Case Templates?
Using a set of proven business case templates, how-to guides and sample business cases will increase your productivity, save time, and improve the quality of your business case.

Here's how - download proven, customizable business case templates.
AI Tools: My Business Case Generator
Introducing the "My Business Case Generator". It's revolutionary! With just a few clicks, you'll have a perfectly outlined business case draft in 5 minutes.

Gone are the days of spending hours and days on tedious work.
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We bring over 20 years of experience in improving Business Cases.

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