Have you got a business case for your project?

Woooo! Your big idea is really awesome and you’re going to just throw everything into it. Those moments of doubt and uncertainty won’t possibly happen, and besides, this feeling of enthusiasm will last forever! Surely. And nothing will change. Will it? It’s not important to know why your project is viable. Is it?

Over the last few weeks we’ve covered the first part of the project journey. In a little thing we call the Vision CascadeTM. The journey includes the ‘vision‘, ‘purpose‘, ‘strategy‘,’mission‘ and ‘measures‘ as the key steps to form your project. There is one final step before starting to develop a proper plan and that is the business case.

project business case

But, “whoa!” I hear you say, “surely they’re just for banks and massive businesses?”. To answer that concern quickly, no, they’re not just for banks and massive businesses.
The business case is a document to justify whether an idea should be pursued, and whether the foreseen effort is worth the potential reward. Remember, while everything so far (the exploring of your project as per the previous blog posts) can seem quite real, it’s all just speculation; the potential reward is only real when you make it happen. The business case is the broad justification that the idea is worth pursuing and on what basis.
Creating a business case (even a ‘lite’ version) can help you explore the wider elements of your idea. At worst it will help you find a few minor bits and pieces you might have missed, at medium it will highlight a horrendous gap in your approach which will save you untold amounts of time, grief, money; at best the business case will be an experience too wonderful and eye-opening to be described here.

Suffice to say, a business case (and the process of creating a business case) should be a valuable one.

There is a general theme that runs through a business case and it covers these four points:
– What do you want your idea to do?
– What / who could stop you?
– What are you going to do about it?
– Why is your approach viable?

project business case

The business case usually takes the form of a chaptered report, but the format can be modified depending on the audience.
It is important to consider who will read the report. If you are approaching an investor, for example, then the narrative should include clear justification for additional funding and how the project expects to make a return on the investment. If the business case is for internal consumption, then perhaps resourcing maybe will be more of a concern and suitable justifications made clear.

The process of assessing your idea from an external point of view can help you to consider opportunities to explore, or risks to avoid.

Below is a list of the key aspects to include in your business case appraisal (detail on these topics are included in the book).

  • Executive Summary
  • Vision
  • The Need
  • The Marketing
  • The Sales
  • Business Plan Milestones
  • High-level Programme
  • Success Factors
  • Competitive Edge
  • Company Summary
  • Company Ownership
  • Management Ethos
  • Key Staff
  • Management Team
  • Organisation Structure
  • Benefits
  • Technology
  • Current Performance
  • Future Development
  • Competition
  • Delivery Strategy
  • Positioning Strategy
  • SWOT
  • Strategic Alliance
  • Financial Appraisal
  • Key Financial Indicators
  • Risk Management

Using the list above as a prompt will help flush out the reasons why your idea is viable. You may discover that your idea relies on very few external factors to allow it to be successful. However, you may find that your idea rests precariously on very unstable market forces and so time really is of the essence if you are to capitalise on the brilliance of your idea.

project confidence

Once you have your business case you should have gained a level of confidence to decide to:
– Carry on with the project (and create a plan, and get going), or
– Review some concerns before ploughing ahead, or
– Put the project on the shelf until conditions are more suitable, or
– Condemn the project to the rubbish bin (Don’t do this. There is always something from an ‘unworthy’ project that can be useful).

May your business cases be enlightening and useful!

Any questions? Drop me an e-mail! John.Jukes@preparedbyfornix.com

project manager

For much more detail on how to create a business case for your project, the book ‘For Entrepreneurs With Big Ideas’ is just what you need. It’s available over on Amazon.

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