Elements of a Business Case:
The title page is the first impression a reader gets of a business case. Keep it neat and orderly, simple, balanced and easy to read.
Table of Contents
The table of contents lists the major headings in the business case, and the page on which each is found. Remember to number the pages in the document. While it is the last section completed, it is placed immediately following the title page.
Executive or Project Summary
This is your first and most important selling tool. It is where you create the critical first impression of the project, so it is important to summarize the most important elements of the project in a concise and compelling manner.
Keep the executive summary to two pages or less. Do not include technical descriptions. Concentrate on explaining your reasons for undertaking the project, and what the benefits will be.
It may help to do a point form first draft before writing your business case; this could clarify the important elements of the plan. Write the final draft after completing the plan details.
This is a concise, general statement of what the municipality intends to achieve by completing the project. It explains what is to be done, for whom, and why. If possible, do not exceed one sentence.
Objectives of the Project
Objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.). These define the results expected as a direct consequence of the project’s completion. Such hard data verifies the value of the project, and makes it saleable to the community as well as the funding program.
Some projects have long- and short-term objectives. Identify these as such if it adds to the understanding of the program.
Performance measures help indicate the success of the project. They indicate how the project will meet the objectives listed at the beginning of the business case.
The needs assessment analyses the problem and explains why the problem needs to be corrected. It provides the information as to whether the project should be undertaken at all. The report, in abbreviated form, becomes part of the business case.
The technical analysis outlines the technical information used to make the decision, and tells why the proposal represents the best or most cost-effective solution.
Project Work Plan
The work plan spells out the terms that will form the basis of any contracts, including the jobs to be done, the time frames and milestones. It could help the project manager if you include the evaluation criteria for each step or milestone here. Name those responsible for managing the project and contracts as soon as they are known.
The business case describes key activities and locations as well as outlining milestones and timelines for completion. A Gantt Chart may be helpful in describing the timelines. It also identifies risks to project, completion and contingencies. Include a list of project staff and consultants, and their responsibilities.
The financial plan shows how the project will be financed and how returns, if any, will be credited. Give an explanation of why program funding is necessary and how funds will be used in the introductory paragraph. This will show up again in the project budget.
Appendices are pertinent documents that show support for or give validity to the project.
Depending on the intended result and working environment, the business case may have more or less sections than described here. In any case, it is a vital tool for establishing a project and seeing it through.