A simple formula can result in a successful proposal
Having a great idea is one thing but persuading key decisions makers to buy into it is a skill in itself.
If funding is required, a business case will often
need to be composed as an official document that informs the decision-making and authorisation processes. A winning business case differs from one that is “filed”, never to be seen again, because it is clear, concise and sells the benefits.
If the investment you are asking for will make real savings, improve efficiency, boost staff morale and development, or enhance the patient experience, spell it out clearly. Showing the value, impact and return on investment - as long as it is realistic, tangible and can be measured - will improve the chances of your business case being approved tenfold.
Writing an effective business case is about persuading your reader a change is needed. You must demonstrate why change is required, have a firm grasp of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of such a change and, where possible, support your argument with evidence. If you can, get those making the decisions involved from the outset to gain their buy-in.
How to write an effective business case
● The business case may be a formal document but you can bring it to life with examples to make it a compelling read
● Be clear, concise and do not use jargon. Avoid technical language where possible as this may act as a barrier to your intended reader
● The document should sell why a change is needed. Be clear on the impact and benefits but be sure to outline key risks
● Where appropriate, align the business case to local or national strategic priorities, such as QIPP
● Don’t overpromise. Be realistic about what can be delivered within set timescales and budget
● Get your finances right. Make sure projections are as accurate as possible
● Use evidence where you can. If the project you’re proposing has been implemented successfully elsewhere, show this to add weight to your case
Business-case format and content may vary depending on the complexity of the project and the amount of funding requested but check with your organisation for a standardised template - many will have one. As a guide, basic business-case components may incorporate an executive summary, context, reasons, benefits, risks, financial projection and appraisal, timescales and project-management team information.
The business-case process should not be seen simply as a bureaucratic hoop to jump through. It can be a useful tool to determine whether it is worth committing resources and really focuses the mind on the end result.
Bad project planning usually means, in reality, the project will fail so having a sound, properly researched business case is a firm foundation to build on.
Anna O’Kane is programme lead at the East Midlands Leadership Academy. She has a private-sector background, most recently working for a company that delivered public-sector contracts in the business-support arena, helping small to medium-sized businesses to grow