Looking for funding for a new project but not sure where to start? One way to get the funding you need is to create a Business Case. This outlines the benefits, competitive edge, and other gains the company stands to make if it invests in this project. For certain projects, the Business Case is a fore-runner for a Request For Proposal (aka Invitation To Tender) where business proposals are accepted from external firms.
Business Case Template
Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at how to write, review and assess business proposals. For now, let’s focus developing the Business Case.
I’ve put together this Business Case checklist which covers most all areas related to the project/service you are exploring. This checklist should help you address areas such as Achievability, Benefits, Costs, Critical success factors, Resources, Risks, Scope, Strategic fit, and Value For Money.
Business Case Checklist
To ensure that your business case is complete, examine the following points:
- Achievability — this ensures that you (and other parties) have the experience, expertise, and resources to manage the project. Examine different approaches that can overcome any potential obstacles, e.g. additional resources, timelines, or budgets.
- Assumptions — speak to all stakeholders and gather their main assumptions, e.g. in the case of outsourcing IT development, that the Intellectual Property Rights will be owned by your organization. Examine whether these assumptions are valid or not.
- Benefits — outline the benefits, and opportunities, that each option provides. Identify the high-level benefits that align with your company’s main business objectives, and explore how these benefits can be measured
- Costs — obtain indicative figures for the cost of the project over its entire lifecycle, not only the implementation costs. You may want to factor in 15-20% for scope creep, if appropriate. Also, determine who will pay for the project, if they have agreed to do this, and the payment method. Examine how to get an acceptable balance of cost, benefit, and risk.
- Critical success factors — seek consensus with the other stakeholders on what constitutes success. If you do not take this step, stakeholder will have different expectations of the final deliverable. Define success factors that are specific, measurable, and achievable; identify any other factors that could affect success, such as the delivery of other parallel projects.
- Dependencies — outline the internal (e.g. staff availability) and external dependencies (changes in the marketplace, new government legislation).
- Options – gather details on all available options that could meet the business needs. Consider the trade-offs associated with each option, and the degree to which each option meets the project’s needs. Make sure that you have included the overall supply chain’s needs, i.e. the organization, partners, suppliers, staff and customers.
- Procurement — send an Invitation to Tender (ITT) to prospective contractors. Evaluate their bids. Hold presentations with the most impressive bids.
- Project Group — identify those (individuals, units, and departments) who are involved and/or affected by the project. Determine their interests and endeavor to resolve any potential conflicts.
- Resources — scope the anticipated resource and capabilities requirements that you will need, such as staff, IT, workspace, equipment, and funding.
- Risks – Capture all anticipated risks – plan contingences. Prepare a high-level estimate of the costs for each risk.
- Scope – define what is in/out of scope with the existing budget; scope what can be delivered with a reduced budget, with indicative delivery dates; ensure that there are no conflicts with other on-going projects. Look at the impact that delaying the project or under-delivering could have.
- Stakeholders — identify their role, responsibility, availability, and contingencies if they become incapacitated/released from the project.
- Strategic fit – confirm that the project is still required and that its objectives are in line with the company’s business goals.
- Value For Money — examine how to get Value For Money from the contractors, contractors and other third parties. Agree what constitutes VFM with the project stakeholders.
Once you have checked off these points, your business case should be ready to send to the project stakeholders.
What are your thoughts? What have I missed?
About the Author: Ivan Walsh provides Business Tips for Smart People on Klariti.com. His also runs the popularBusiness Planning Blog at http://www.ivanwalsh.com. Follow him on Twitter @ivanwalsh
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