What's in a business case?

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Most organisations have their own business case template that provides a structure for their staff to follow when writing a new case. The SPRUCE Project collected templates from a number of universities and memory organisations. The chapter headings have been summarised below to illustrate the significant degree of variance between them.

Business Case Template 1

  • Mission statement for project/proposal
  • Definition and background
  • Detailed scope
  • Constraints and assumptions
  • Stakeholders
  • Dependencies
  • Benefits and measures of success
  • Project governance and operational handover
  • Timescales and key milestones
  • Quality management
  • Project costs/funding/impact on staff resources
  • Option appraisal/value for money analysis
  • Risks

Covers all bases. The obvious business case sections are present as well as some project planning detail.

Business Case Template 2

  • Background
  • Description of proposal
  • Financial appraisal
  • Benefits analysis

Straight to the point. Very clear.

Business Case Template 3

  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Exclusions
  • Deliverables
  • Constraints
  • Interfaces
  • Assumptions
  • Strategic fit
  • Senior owner/Project organisation/Stakeholders
  • Communication plan
  • Quality plan
  • Schedule
  • Issue/risk log
  • Project controls

All about the project planning, but where is the business case detail? Where is the benefits section?

Business Case Template 4

  • Background
  • Project description – objectives, scope, deliverables/desired outcomes, exclusions, constraints, interfaces
  • CBA – strategic fit, business benefits, estimated costs and resource analysis
  • Customer quality expectations
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Outline implementation plan
  • Risk analysis 

Jargon heavy.

Conclusions

Business case templates vary tremendously from one to the next, but they can't be relied on to provide a checklist of the important sections that you need to cover in your business case. You may need to squeeze the important parts of your case into an institutional template that looks quite different to the generic template in this toolkit.