Sometimes, business process and workflow redesign result in recommendations for very significant change in how “things” are done. If it is your job to establish the business case for substantive redesign or innovation in a given business process, it is best that you understand what that means. I have spent the better part of a week with a client who thinks a business case is a business plan. Argh!
What is a Business Case?
A business case is meant to capture the reasoning for initiating a project or task. It is usually presented in a well-structured written document. The objective in a business case is establishing that the investment of resources (cost) will result in support of a business goal (ROI).
A business case needs to include information such as the background of the project, the expected business benefits, the options considered and the criteria they were evaluated against, the expected costs of the project, a gap analysis (how do we get there) and the expected issues/risks. Consideration should also be given to the option of doing nothing. Based on this information, leadership can justify their decision with respect to advancing the recommended changes or not.
The Business Case should ensure:
- issues, including obstacles, have been thoroughly considered
- that there is sufficient information to make comparisons and conduct evaluations
- value and risks can be clearly identified
- outcomes and benefits can be measured
A business case is about critical thinking. It’s your job in the process to establish goals, conduct cost-benefit analysis and express return-on-investment. These are not simple tasks.
Creating a Business Case for your Business Process
The case must demonstrate that: the issues are all accounted for, the full benefits (value, ROI) will be realized on time, and all resource needs have been evaluated and budgeted.
A business case should contain some or all of the following information (depending on the timing and scale):
Context – Business objectives/opportunities, strategic alignment (priority)
Value Proposition – Desired business outcomes, benefits, costs, ROI, and costs of not proceeding
Focus – Problem/solution scope, assumptions/constraints, options identified/evaluated, scale and complexity assessment
Deliverables – Outcomes, deliverables and benefits planned
Workload – Approach, project/task plan, critical path, workload estimate/breakdown
Required resources – Project leadership, governance, resources, funding
Commitments (required) – Project controls, status reporting, deliverables schedule, change management