Free Business Case Templates for IT, Project Management, and More
By Kate Eby | June 25, 2018
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A business case helps stakeholders understand what you want to do, how your plan will benefit the organization, and if that plan is possible. A business case template provides a structure for researching and presenting a clear and comprehensive document.
In this article, you’ll learn what to include when you create your own business case , and find the ready-made, downloadable business case templates in Word and PowerPoint formats, like a one-page business case template , a construction business case template , and more.
One-Page Business Case Template
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If you have a straightforward but costly proposal, use this short business case template to make a concise list of what you want to do, why you want to do it, how you want to do it, who benefits from the project, and anything that could hinder the project’s success. This template can also help form the basis of your project charter .
Project Business Case Template
Sometimes, it’s not easy to quantify benefits and disadvantages of a project. This project business case template includes a weighting scheme to create a score for each proposed option, and allows you to score risks.
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Construction Business Case Template
Download Construction Business Case Template - Word
This construction business case template includes sections for the many types of information and analysis a large construction project may require. It lists the types of documents needed to prepare for construction and includes detailed information on stakeholders and their interests. It also includes tables to help visually compare analyses. The project delivery or implementation details can form the basis for your project plan.
Simple Business Case Template
Download Simple Business Case Template
This simple business case template in Word addresses all the essential areas needed in a business case. Add as much information to each section as is necessary, or include other sections to reflect your own organization’s requirements.
PowerPoint Business Case Presentation Template
Download Business Case Presentation Template - PowerPoint
A simple Word document may provide a good way to document the reasons for, requirements of, and costs included in your business case. But visual representations can communicate vital facts quickly and may be necessary if you present your business case in a meeting. Use this template to visually communicate information.
IT Business Case Template
Download IT Business Case Template
For enterprise-level changes, a business case may be necessary to justify costs, resources, and effort. This IT business case template provides space to discuss why you require the change, how you will source the new solution, and how you will manage the migration and implementation.
Life Sciences Business Case Template
Download Life Sciences Business Case Template - Word
In addition to the usual content sections in a business case, this life sciences business case template includes blocks for version control and revision tracking.
What Is a Business Case?
A business case (also known as a business need ) defines a problem or opportunity, measures the effect of a project that solves a problem or exploits an opportunity, and clarifies the costs and benefits of a proposed plan.
You need a business case when you have to justify a resource or expenditure on a project. Through a well-considered business plan, stakeholders and investors can determine whether the enterprise should invest resources in the project. A business plan also provides a structure for presenting findings and recommendations. Moreover, it offers a way to determine if the project aligns with an organization’s strategic objectives.
Although preparing a business case may seem like yet another document in a long chain of project management tasks, this front-loaded preparation is essential to the eventual success of any undertaking. When started before a project begins, a business case shows stakeholders — and even you — if the project is worth starting. It can reveal problems that could potentially waste time and other resources without yielding benefits. Without business cases, you have no way to prioritize projects. If you don’t clearly articulate the desired results before the project begins, investors and stakeholders can easily be dissatisfied or frustrated with the outcome. And, as the project progresses and ultimately concludes, you have no reference point for measuring achievement.
Inputs for a business case include such things as regulatory and legal requirements, changes in the market, and customer demand.
You can use a business case template as a guide so you remember to include all the necessary content. A template also offers formatting, so you don’t have to worry about layout and design.
The Business Case and Business Case Template Writing Process
Poor preparation and a lack of senior management involvement often contribute to eventual project failure. A good case study can help you avoid these pitfalls.
Start by consulting key people, such as the finance department, to get accurate estimates and details of the current situation and an idea of what improvements would look like. In addition, remember to follow any pertinent company policies and procedures while preparing the business case and elaborating on the proposed project.
When writing the business case, consider these pointers for success:
- Write in the voice of your readers and stakeholders, but avoid jargon as much as possible.
- Communicate concisely regarding the essential content.
- Be interesting, even entertaining.
- Be clear about your goals and how they can benefit the organization.
- Limit the number of authors to keep the voice and style consistent.
The Main Elements of a Business Case Template
Your business case is intended to provide sponsors, stakeholders, and investors with a clear picture of the outcomes and benefits of your project. In general, a business case contains the following particulars about a project:
- A high-level summary
- Financial information about the costs and benefits
- Details of the scope
- Benefits and risks
- Information about how the project will be managed
- Measurements for success
A sample business case template is available here for the management certification guidelines used in the UK, Australia, and other countries. The number of sections and detail of your business case will vary with the complexity and scope of your intended project. Typical elements include most or all of the following:
- An Executive Summary: Particularly in government or formal business situations, the executive summary may be the only part of the document that stakeholders, investors, the media, and other interested parties read. An executive summary must convey what will be done, who will do it, how much it will cost, and how and who it will benefit — in one page or less. Another gauge for length is that it should take no longer than five minutes to read.
- Purpose: The purpose of the project describes the background of the business problem or opportunity. It details how the change envisioned (by completing the project) will improve the situation.
- Alternatives: Researching and describing viable alternative options to the recommended project will help provide a more vivid context for the recommended solution. Presenting alternatives will also demonstrate to stakeholders that you’ve given your project healthy consideration and that it was not chosen arbitrarily.
- Strategic Alignment: Explaining how your plan fits into and advances the overall strategic direction of the organization is crucial. Stating project goals and objectives in this context can strengthen your case.
- Organizational Impact: Discuss how the proposed project will change the organization. Consider any relevant departments, equipment, processes, or roles. Stakeholder analysis (i.e., understanding the current situation and the requirements of each stakeholder) can contribute to this picture.
- Assumptions and Constraints: Be clear about any anticipated resources or limitations. For example, if funding from one agency is certain, note that. If success depends upon implementing a new platform, note that. The list of assumptions may grow and change as the project progresses. You may also consider any interdependencies that might affect the plan.
- Benefits: Articulate the anticipated outcomes to show how the entire organization gains and improves from your project. Examples of benefits are more customers served, less eye strain for service reps at workstations, or a roof patch ahead of storm season.
- Schedule and Costs: Outline the plan with a brief timeline for project development and completion, including major milestones. For technology projects, provide an overview of the migration plan, if required. On the timeline, add a cost benefit analysis and budget, possibly even with ongoing maintenance costs.
- Risks and Opportunities: Risks describe what could happen to delay or prevent the completion of the project or raise the costs of the project. Depending on the scope of your project, complete your business case analysis by studying PESTLE factors (political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental). For each risk you identify, include a mitigation plan.
- Recommendation and Justification: State the preferred option and summarize its risks and costs as well as the justifying factors that recommend it.
- Governance and Progress Tracking: Describe who is responsible for managing the project and who is accountable for supporting it. Indicate how progress will be measured and reported.
You may also want to include signature blocks for approvers, a table with the sponsor name, the names of anyone providing support or expertise to the document, a table of contents hyperlinked to first- and second-level headings, an appendix for attached worksheets and other supporting documents, and a glossary of terms. To title the document, follow the naming conventions of your organization and provide a version number, especially if the project is complicated and the business case is likely to go through revisions.
Who Is Involved in a Business Case?
The project sponsor prepares the business case in cooperation with team members and subject matter experts from the applicable areas, such as IT or finance.
Some companies may have dedicated project management offices. In that case, the project management office prepares the business case. If an outside organization requests support, that entity prepares the business case. The project sponsor and interested parties review the business case. Based on the business case, the project may be approved, rejected, altered, or postponed.
Tips for Creating a Compelling Business Case and Business Case Template
A business case may seem to require a lot of information, but you can keep it simple if you keep a few things in mind:
- Define the strategic role and goals of the project early in the case study.
- Create context for the project by discussing its history and background.
- Show similarities between the proposed project and previous successful projects. Also, discuss important differences.
- Don’t just show fixes to problems. Find opportunities where possible and highlight them in your case study.
- State the benefits that will occur once the project is completed.
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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)
Table of Contents
What is a business case, how to write a business case, business case template, watch our business case training video, key elements of a business case, how projectmanager helps with your business case.
A business case is a project management document that explains how the benefits of a project overweigh its costs and why it should be executed. Business cases are prepared during the project initiation phase and their purpose is to include all the project’s objectives, costs and benefits to convince stakeholders of its value.
A business case is an important project document to prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the project proposal you’re pitching is a sound investment. Below, we illustrate the steps to writing one that will sway them.
The need for a business case is that it collects the financial appraisal, proposal, strategy and marketing plan in one document and offers a full look at how the project will benefit the organization. Once your business case is approved by the project stakeholders, you can begin the project planning phase.
Projects fail without having a solid business case to rest on, as this project document is the base for the project charter and project plan. But if a project business case is not anchored to reality, and doesn’t address a need that aligns with the larger business objectives of the organization, then it is irrelevant.
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Use this free Business Case Template for Word to manage your projects better.
The research you’ll need to create a strong business case is the why, what, how and who of your project. This must be clearly communicated. The elements of your business case will address the why but in greater detail. Think of the business case as a document that is created during the project initiation phase but will be used as a reference throughout the project life cycle.
Whether you’re starting a new project or mid-way through one, take time to write up a business case to justify the project expenditure by identifying the business benefits your project will deliver and that your stakeholders are most interested in reaping from the work. The following four steps will show you how to write a business case.
Step 1: Identify the Business Problem
Projects aren’t created for projects’ sake. They should always be aligned with business goals . Usually, they’re initiated to solve a specific business problem or create a business opportunity.
You should “Lead with the need.” Your first job is to figure out what that problem or opportunity is, describe it, find out where it comes from and then address the time frame needed to deal with it.
This can be a simple statement but is best articulated with some research into the economic climate and the competitive landscape to justify the timing of the project.
Step 2: Identify the Alternative Solutions
How do you know whether the project you’re undertaking is the best possible solution to the problem defined above? Naturally, prioritizing projects is hard, and the path to success is not paved with unfounded assumptions.
One way to narrow down the focus to make the right solution clear is to follow these six steps (after the relevant research, of course):
- Note the alternative solutions.
- For each solution, quantify its benefits.
- Also, forecast the costs involved in each solution.
- Then figure out its feasibility .
- Discern the risks and issues associated with each solution.
- Finally, document all this in your business case.
Step 3: Recommend a Preferred Solution
You’ll next need to rank the solutions, but before doing that it’s best to set up criteria, maybe have a scoring mechanism such as a decision matrix to help you prioritize the solutions to best choose the right one.
Some methodologies you can apply include:
- Depending on the solution’s cost and benefit , give it a score of 1-10.
- Base your score on what’s important to you.
- Add more complexity to your ranking to cover all bases.
Regardless of your approach, once you’ve added up your numbers, the best solution to your problem will become evident. Again, you’ll want to have this process also documented in your business case.
Step 4: Describe the Implementation Approach
So, you’ve identified your business problem or opportunity and how to reach it, now you have to convince your stakeholders that you’re right and have the best way to implement a process to achieve your goals. That’s why documentation is so important; it offers a practical path to solve the core problem you identified.
Now, it’s not just an exercise to appease senior leadership. Who knows what you might uncover in the research you put into exploring the underlying problem and determining alternative solutions? You might save the organization millions with an alternate solution than the one initially proposed. When you put in the work on a strong business case, you’re able to get your sponsors or organizational leadership on board with you and have a clear vision as to how to ensure the delivery of the business benefits they expect.
Our business case template for Word is the perfect tool to start writing a business case. It has 9 key business case areas you can customize as needed. Download the template for free and follow the steps below to create a great business case for all your projects.
One of the key steps to starting a business case is to have a business case checklist. The following is a detailed outline to follow when developing your business case. You can choose which of these elements are the most relevant to your project stakeholders and add them to our business case template. Then once your business case is approved, start managing your projects with a robust project management software such as ProjectManager.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is a short version of each section of your business case. It’s used to give stakeholders a quick overview of your project.
2. Project Definition
This section is meant to provide general information about your projects, such as the business objectives that will be achieved and the project plan outline.
3. Vision, Goals and Objectives
First, you have to figure out what you’re trying to do and what is the problem you want to solve. You’ll need to define your project vision, goals and objectives. This will help you shape your project scope and identify project deliverables.
4. Project Scope
The project scope determines all the tasks and deliverables that will be executed in your project to reach your business objectives.
5. Background Information
Here you can provide a context for your project, explaining the problem that it’s meant to solve, and how it aligns with your organization’s vision and strategic plan.
6. Success Criteria and Stakeholder Requirements
Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, the quality requirements will differ, but they are critical to the project’s success. Collect all of them, figure out what determines if you’ve successfully met them and report on the results .
7. Project Plan
It’s time to create the project plan. Figure out the tasks you’ll have to take to get the project done. You can use a work breakdown structure template to make sure you are through. Once you have all the tasks collected, estimate how long it will take to complete each one.
Project management software makes creating a project plan significantly easier. ProjectManager can upload your work breakdown structure template and all your tasks are populated in our tool. You can organize them according to your production cycle with our kanban board view, or use our Gantt chart view to create a project schedule.
8. Project Budget
Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.
9. Project Schedule
Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed. For a more impactful project schedule , use a tool to make a Gantt chart, and print it out. This will provide that extra flourish of data visualization and skill that Excel sheets lack.
10. Project Governance
Project governance refers to all the project management rules and procedures that apply to your project. For example, it defines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members and the framework for decision-making.
11. Communication Plan
Have milestones for check-ins and status updates, as well as determine how stakeholders will stay aware of the progress over the project life cycle.
12. Progress Reports
Have a plan in place to monitor and track your progress during the project to compare planned to actual progress. There are project tracking tools that can help you monitor progress and performance.
Again, using a project management tool improves your ability to see what’s happening in your project. ProjectManager has tracking tools like dashboards and status reports that give you a high-level view and more detail, respectively. Unlike light-weight apps that make you set up a dashboard, ours is embedded in the tool. Better still, our cloud-based software gives you real-time data for more insightful decision-making. Also, get reports on more than just status updates, but timesheets, workload, portfolio status and much more, all with just one click. Then filter the reports and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.
13. Financial Appraisal
This is a very important section of your business case because this is where you explain how the financial benefits outweigh the project costs . Compare the financial costs and benefits of your project. You can do this by doing a sensitivity analysis and a cost-benefit analysis.
14. Market Assessment
Research your market, competitors and industry, to find opportunities and threats
15. Competitor Analysis
Identify direct and indirect competitors and do an assessment of their products, strengths, competitive advantages and their business strategy.
16. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis helps you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while the opportunities and threats are external.
17. Marketing Strategy
Describe your product, distribution channels, pricing, target customers among other aspects of your marketing plan or strategy.
18. Risk Assessment
There are many risk categories that can impact your project. The first step to mitigating them is to identify and analyze the risks associated with your project activities.
ProjectManager , an award-winning project management software, can collect and assemble all the various data you’ll be collecting, and then easily share it both with your team and project sponsors.
Once you have a spreadsheet with all your tasks listed, you can import it into our software. Then it’s instantly populated into a Gantt chart . Simply set the duration for each of the tasks, add any dependencies, and your project is now spread across a timeline. You can set milestones, but there is so much more you can do.
You have a project plan now, and from the online Gantt chart, you can assign team members to tasks. Then they can comment directly on the tasks they’re working on, adding as many documents and images as needed, fostering a collaborative environment. You can track their progress and change task durations as needed by dragging and dropping the start and end dates.
But that’s only a taste of what ProjectManager offers. We have kanban boards that visualize your workflow and a real-time dashboard that tracks six project metrics for the most accurate view of your project possible.
Try ProjectManager and see for yourself with this 30-day free trial .
If you want more business case advice, take a moment to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, in this short training video. She explains the steps you have to take in order to write a good business case.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference.
Today we’re talking about how to write a business case. Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen the market, or maybe organizations, companies or even projects, move away from doing business cases. But, these days, companies, organizations, and those same projects are scrutinizing the investments and they’re really seeking a rate of return.
So now, think of the business case as your opportunity to package your project, your idea, your opportunity, and show what it means and what the benefits are and how other people can benefit.
We want to take a look today to see what’s in the business case and how to write one. I want to be clear that when you look for information on a business case, it’s not a briefcase.
Someone called the other day and they were confused because they were looking for something, and they kept pulling up briefcases. That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about are business cases, and they include information about your strategies, about your goals. It is your business proposal. It has your business outline, your business strategy, and even your marketing plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Case?
And so, why is that so important today? Again, companies are seeking not only their project managers but their team members to have a better understanding of business and more of an idea business acumen. So this business case provides the justification for the proposed business change or plan. It outlines the allocation of capital that you may be seeking and the resources required to implement it. Then, it can be an action plan . It may just serve as a unified vision. And then it also provides the decision-makers with different options.
So let’s look more at the steps required to put these business cases together. There are four main steps. One, you want to research your market. Really look at what’s out there, where are the needs, where are the gaps that you can serve? Look at your competition. How are they approaching this, and how can you maybe provide some other alternatives?
You want to compare and finalize different approaches that you can use to go to market. Then you compile that data and you present strategies, your goals and other options to be considered.
And then you literally document it.
So what does the document look like? Well, there are templates out there today. The components vary, but these are the common ones. And then these are what I consider essential. So there’s the executive summary. This is just a summary of your company, what your management team may look like, a summary of your product and service and your market.
The business description gives a little bit more history about your company and the mission statement and really what your company is about and how this product or service fits in.
Then, you outline the details of the product or service that you’re looking to either expand or roll out or implement. You may even include in their patents may be that you have pending or other trademarks.
Then, you want to identify and lay out your marketing strategy. Like, how are you gonna take this to your customers? Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar store? Are you gonna do this online? And, what are your plans to take it to market?
You also want to include detailed information about your competitor analysis. How are they doing things? And, how are you planning on, I guess, beating your competition?
You also want to look at and identify your SWOT. And the SWOT is your strength. What are the strengths that you have in going to market? And where are the weaknesses? Maybe some of your gaps. And further, where are your opportunities and maybe threats that you need to plan for? Then the overview of the operation includes operational information like your production, even human resources, information about the day-to-day operations of your company.
And then, your financial plan includes your profit statement, your profit and loss, any of your financials, any collateral that you may have, and any kind of investments that you may be seeking.
So these are the components of your business case. This is why it’s so important. And if you need a tool that can help you manage and track this process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager .
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Business Case Template for Word, Google Docs, PDF
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- Available for download in Microsoft Word or accessible in Google Docs.
- Offers a dedicated section for you to provide a detailed implementation plan and timeline, allowing you to customize your business case for clear and effective communication with your teams.
- Assists you in gaining support from investors and stakeholders by helping you present a well-structured business case.
- Each section of the template includes straightforward instructions, making it easy and simple for you to fill in your business case details.
What is a business case?
A business case is a document that you can use to pitch a project idea to your stakeholders. The process involves identifying a need or problem, outlining a possible solution, and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of your idea.
What does a business case include?
A business case offers details that help stakeholders evaluate your idea by understanding why you’re suggesting a certain solution and what you hope to achieve with your project. Specifically, a business case template often includes the following sections:
- Purpose: The business problem or need that your proposed project will solve.
- Solution: An overview of your solution to the problem or need, which usually includes an overview of the project schedule and timeline.
- Scope: The time, money, and human investment required for your project.
- Alternatives: Other strategies that could be used to solve the same problem.
- Analysis: The benefits and risks associated with your solution and reasons why you chose your solution over the alternatives.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs): How you plan to measure the effectiveness or success of the solution.
Importance of creating a business case document
Preparing a business case for a project empowers you to make a compelling argument for your proposed solution. Additionally, it can increase the chances of your project’s success by enabling the following benefits:
Gaining stakeholder support
A comprehensive business case shows investors and stakeholders that you’ve done the research to prove the value of a solution. This builds trust and credibility, which means you’re more likely to win support for your idea.
Improving project selection
Writing a business case forces you to clearly define the purpose of each project, consider alternatives, and weigh the benefits against the risks. As a result, you’re more likely to invest in projects that have the best possible outcomes and strategic advantages over alternate solutions.
Enabling proactive risk management
Considering risks is a key part of project management. In fact, two-thirds of project managers regularly take part in risk management activities. And thinking about potential risks at the beginning of a project gives you a headstart on mitigating them. Instead of responding in real-time, you can take a proactive approach
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a business plan and a business case, is this business case template free, can i edit this business case template, related tags:.
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