When you have developed a course of action that, based on a solid business plan, would be either advantages or profitable (or both) to your organisation, you write and present a business case to the decision-makers. The high-level document concisely presents all the relevant facts about the course of action, including financial requirements, in order to justify the change. Writing a business case can help you identify problems with undertaking the course of action not recognised earlier; leadership can use it to prioritise your idea against other projects requiring capital investment.
- Skill level:
Present the problem your suggestion would solve or the opportunity your suggestion would take advantage of. For example, clients have been complaining about the grammatical errors in our reports and are not using our services or referring us to others as a result.
Describe your suggested course of action in detail, including its scope and its objectives. For example: Hire one full-time editor to proofread all final reports before sending them to our clients to ensure grammatical correctness; if successful, hire others to proofread additional client documents.
Relate your course of action directly to the problem or opportunity presented in the first section; explain the sub-project structure (more details) and alternative courses of action. The editor, for example, would report to the office manager, who coordinates other finalising details of client deliverables. Another option would be to pay an intern from a local business school to proofread; if successful, he may be hired upon graduation.
Record your analysis of the cost and financial benefits of undertaking your course of action. This is where you show your reader their return on investment (ROI) if your suggestion is implemented. Example: We have lost at least two clients in the last six months due to grammatical errors on their reports, which cost us $XX,XXX in estimated future profits; hiring a editor will cost $XX,XXX annually, for a savings of $X,XXX.
Provide a timeline to show how your course of action could be implemented, confirming for your reader its validity. Include components of the implementation, milestones and main dependencies. Candidates, for example, would be interviewed by the office manager, who would also oversee the editor's work. Most training would occur on the job; job duties would initially fluctuate in this newly created position. After six months, the position's benefits will be evaluated by a team of personnel.
Assess the assumptions you made when developing your course of action, followed by information about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with your suggestion. This shows your reader that you (or your team) have objectively considered the viability of implementing the course of action. Example: The cubical vacated recently by Joe Consultant was assumed to be available for the editor. If not, we could arrange for him or her to train in a conference room and telecommute until office space opens up.
Conclude your business case by reiterating the problem your suggestion would solve or the opportunity it would take advantage of, restating at a high level your course of action, summarising the financial benefits, and documenting the outcome if the course of action is not followed.
Summarise the entire business case in and "Executive Summary," which will be the first section of the business case (but which must be written last). Include only vital information and few details, extracting information from the completed business case.
Tips and warnings
- Use jargon and speculation sparingly
- Give the reader a picture of what things will look like if your course of action is undertaken, highlighting the value it would bring to the organisation, its clients and its bottom line
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