The Elements Of A Business Case

in tutelage •  3 months ago

When writing a business case, you should bear in mind its function - what you and the decision maker want the business case to do.


THE ELEMENTS OF A BUSINESS CASE


business case is a document that defines your project and its goals. It helps you allocate resources, make provisions for unforeseen obstacles, and facilitate good decision making.

The basic components in a business case include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis.

A business case should answer some important questions about your proposed project:

  • Why is the proposed solution needed, and what issues and opportunities does it address?
  • What is the recommended solution to the issue or opportunity being addressed?
  • What are the benefits of the proposed solution?
  • What will happen to the business if the project is not undertaken?
  • When will the solution be deployed?
  • What human, financial, and time resources will be needed to deliver the solution?

Phil is an HR manager for a large software company. He's been working on an initiative for an improved records-management plan for the company.

Phil believes that there's a pressing need for the organization to meet its legal and business obligations by improving access to records and information.

The senior executives in Phil's company require a detailed justification of Phil's business proposal before they will consider it.

Phil has never drawn up a business case before, and needs to know what elements to include in the document.

A good business case must contain certain elements.

BACKGROUND

The background outlines the business problem or opportunity that exists.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The executive summary is a short summary of the entire business case. It is presented first, but is usually written last.

SITUATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

The situational assessment and problem statement section contains detailed information about the problems or opportunities facing the organization.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The project description contains detailed information about the project. It should contain a description and scope for the project, as well as the project objectives.

SOLUTION DESCRIPTION

The solution description details the solution you are proposing to deal with the issues and opportunities detailed in the situational assessment. The solution description should give the concept overview, solution detail, sub-project structure, and solution alternatives.

The business case should also contain these key elements.

COST AND BENEFIT ANALYSIS

The cost and benefit analysis gives a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of implementing the proposed solution.

IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE

The implementation timeline shows the projected schedule for implementing the solution, and assures management that your team has thought about and accommodated any issues that may arise. Your implementation section should also address implementation components, major milestones, and major dependencies.

CRITICAL ASSUMPTIONS AND RISK ASSESSMENT

The critical assumptions and risk assessment section contains a list of the assumptions that have been used while developing a solution.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The conclusions and recommendations section closes the business case. It should give a brief summary of the case's main points. It should convey a sense of urgency and remind the reader of the risks of not carrying out the proposed project.

In his business case for implementing an improved records-management plan for the company, Phil gives some background on the company's existing records system, noting that it has been in use since 2002.

His situational assessment and problem statement section describes the issues facing the company's record-maintenance efforts. It details the business and legal implications of inefficient record retrieval.

Phil then sets out the scope and objectives of his proposed project. The project's main objective is to implement an improved system of records management via an updated database system.

The solution description gives detailed information on the records management project, outlines a program for updating the records system, and indicates how the team will deal with the technical issues.

Phil's business case includes a preliminary analysis of the project's costs and benefits, including factors that may affect costs during implementation.

He provides an outline schedule and development plan, including time and resource estimates for project tasks such as software upgrading and record conversion.

Phil details his main assumptions regarding present and future conditions that may affect the project's delivery. These include the renewal of the company's IT support contract and company policy on outsourcing.

The conclusion sums up by reiterating the urgent need for an improved database system, and recommends that Phil's project be initiated without delay.

PHIL'S BUSINESS CASE OUTLINE

BACKGROUND

At the present time, the HR department is responsible for the registering, storage, and retrieval of all records relating to current and past employees, including history, legal issues, entitlements and benefits. The records also include a large amount of legacy data. The records are stored electronically in a proprietary HR database, which has been in use since early 2002.

SITUATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

The current records system cannot meet retrieval requirements for speed and comprehensiveness. The current system regularly fails to ensure that all records relating to an issue have been retrieved for HR or legal purposes. Valuable staff time is lost searching for records that are either registered but lost, or not registered and difficult to find. This has obvious business implications. In addition, the company is unable to meet minimum legal obligations with regard to freedom of information.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The initial objective is to undertake a scoping study of what is needed to assist the department in meeting its legal and business obligations by improving access to records and information. This feeds into the main objective, which is to implement an improved system of record management via an updated database system.

SOLUTION DESCRIPTION

To improve the records-management system, the department proposes a comprehensive solution, which will comprise the following:

  • the development of a functional search facility, merged with the existing one
  • new procedures for filing and tracking employee information through an integrated document and records-management systems
  • assessment, selection and purchase of upgraded software
  • conversion of an estimated 10,000 current and 15,000 legacy records
  • development of a records disposal authority, disposal guidelines and an implementation plan

These changes could be implemented in a phased approach, enabling change to be managed at a pace that can be accommodated by the organization. Some aspects of the project, such as disposal implementation, will initially have little effect on the current operations of the department since we would implement it first in secondary storage.

COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS

The costs of the project will be further quantified with the letting of requests for Expressions of Interest, to include estimated time frames and costs. The purchasing of a software license for a records-management system and the development of the tools to support its operation are standard operating requirements of any organization, as is training staff to use the new tools and system.

As the implementation progresses there will be a need for discrete projects to migrate data to the central system, to convert legacy data, and to update user metadata which is significantly out of date and affects the ability to track records accurately. The productivity benefits of better retrieval and control over records will be realized in the medium term, and will flow through to areas such as the appeals system, with improved workflow and better access to information.

Further costings will be required at implementation, but research suggests that the costs of initial purchase and installation will be at a level expected for a department of this size.

IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE

Stage Resource estimates Time estimates
Development of search facility Project manager

Records manager

Consultant
6 days

10 days

4 days
Integration of documents and records Project manager

Records manager

Records-management staff
7 days

10 days

16 days
Software upgrade Project manager

Records manager

IT assistance
6 days

3 days

8 days
Record conversion Project manager

Records manager

Contractors x 3
5 days

6 days

14 days
Disposal Project manager

Records manager

Contractors x 3
6 days

15 days

12 days

ASSUMPTIONS

In developing this solution, the following assumptions are made:

  • The upcoming tender for a new outsourcing IT support contract is due in September.
  • A period of disruption may result if there is a change in supplier.
  • Any major system changes as a result of this project will take place from now to December, and it is advised that any technical changes wait until after the new contract is finalized.
  • The current company guidelines on outsourcing will remain unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The future growth of the company has implications for its legal and HR processes, and it is in the company's interests to ensure that its records-management facility is up to future challenges. At present we do not have a system that meets the company's needs adequately. As such, there is an urgent need for an improved system of maintaining and retrieving records, so that the company can cope with the business and legal demands of an expanded workforce. Our study has strongly indicated that the proposed project is operationally, technically, and financially feasible, and offers distinct business benefits to the company. We therefore recommend that this project be approved and initiated without undue delay.

QUESTION

Marsha is a project manager for a small Internet insurance firm. She hopes to set up a Customer Support Department, and is preparing to write a business case. She needs to know which are the crucial elements to incorporate before she begins.

Which of these elements should Marsha include to make her business case?

  1. A description of the scope and objectives of the customer-support project
  2. A statement of the problems facing the organization due to the lack of a customer-support service
  3. A list of project assumptions made by Marsha and her team, and an evaluation of the risks involved in implementing the project
  4. A list of accurate predictions of all obstacles that the project will encounter
  5. A schedule for the development and rollout of the customer-support system
  6. A detailed organization chart of all personnel involved in the project

Marsha's project description should contain detailed project information, such as description, scope, and objectives.

The background section of the business case outlines the business problem or opportunity that exists.

The critical assumptions and risk assessment section contains a list of the assumptions that have been used while developing a solution.

It is impossible for Marsha to predict the specific issues that will arise, although she should outline how the team proposes to deal with unforeseen obstacles.

The implementation timeline shows Marsha's projected schedule for implementing the solution, and assures management that her team has thought about and addressed potential issues.

At this stage, the exact composition of the project team may be subject to change.


I have been teaching and training agents, team leaders, supervisors, managers and admins of call centers and other businesses in BPO related fields. This series, comes as a result of that experience. I have more than 4,000 modules that I plan on sharing here. This is # 007-04

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