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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Case for a Business Case

Before a project is started, there should always be a business case. Without a business case that defines the problem(s) you are trying to solve and what success looks like your project will start on very shaky ground. Remember, the business case is always written by the organization receiving the benefits.

A business case is nothing more than a story. As you begin to write your business case one of the first things you must define is the benefits (the value) the product(s) of the business case will bring. This value statement should be specific and brief, and additionally the business benefits must be clear and measurable.

Here are some basic questions that must always be answered when developing a business case. They are:

What is the problem you are trying to solve? What are the gaps between where you are and where you want to go? What are the assumptions? What will it cost?

What is the ROI (Return on Investment) and how long will it take to recoup the investment?

When did the problem first appear? How long has it been happening? What is it costing you?

Where is the problem occurring?

Who is impacted?

Why is there a problem? What is causing the problem and what is the effect? Why is it needed now? How big is the problem?

How will solving or minimizing the problem save money or add value? How will you measure the value?

Are the business case’s benefits worth it? Are they realistic?

There are many more questions to be answered when developing a business case, however answering the questions above will get you off to a great start. Also, there are templates available in the Project Management community that can help your organization put together a business case that makes sense for your needs and requirements.

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