Posted by: wordsmithsuk | June 24, 2010

Creating a brilliant business case

You’ve got a great idea for a change or improvement in your area of work. But you can’t put it into practice without support from your team leader or manager. It’s also essential to convince anyone who will be affected by your proposal that your idea will save money, increase efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint or improve customer service. The best way to persuade others to get on board is to put together a brilliant business case.

What is a business case?

Business cases are usually written to justify the resources and capital investments needed to bring a new idea or project into action. Your argument must show why a particular course of action is better than the present or other alternatives. A business case is a sales tool: a mechanism for persuasion and a communications vehicle for influencing your audience. The audience is the person, or people, who will ultimately decide to allow your changes to happen. Your business case should make the case for the change project and set out what the results of a successful project will look like after they are implemented.

How to create a business case

To produce a good business case, you need to do a lot of thinking before you actually start writing.

Your preparation should include most of the following:

  • Analyse the current problem or situation – define and describe it carefully
  • Analyse the symptoms of the problem. What are the main consequences of the problem?
  • Analyse the causes of the problem. Why does the problem exist?
  • Think of as many solutions or ideas as you can
  • Identify your best solution: What is it? Why is it the best? How would it work? Which resources would it require? How much would these cost?
  • Analyse the reasons why other solutions may not work so well
  • Identify who will be involved in carrying out or funding your idea(s), and talk to them if possible. Consider how you can win their commitment
  • Analyse the potential impact of your idea on other teams and departments (impact may be beneficial or detrimental)
  • Identify potential risks and plan how to control these.

Using a Mind Map as a thinking tool

Once again, a Mind Map is a good way to think through your business plan. It can be useful to work with at least one colleague as two or more heads are better than one. Do your Mind Map with fat pens on a large piece of paper or on a whiteboard or on a computer.  This is a great way to collect and organise your ideas as you discuss. Try to keep an open mind as you work and be prepared to change your original concept if new ideas or problems emerge.

This Mind Map is an example of how you might get started. A Mind Map is a fantastic tool for getting started on your business case because it allows you to think both divergently and convergently at the same time. While creating your  Mind Map, you can think divergently of many possible solutions to a problem and then focus your convergent thinking on one possible solution. Some psychologists believe that the best type of creative thought comes from using both divergent and convergent thinking.

Read this article if you want to know more about divergent and convergent thinking.

You can clarify and develop your ideas by collecting information from a range of sources, for example:

  • Competitors
  • Government reports/statistics
  • Trade press
  • Company websites/brochures

It’s only when you have thought through (and talked through) every aspect of your business case that you can safely start writing it.

I intend to write more about how to create a good business case in future blog posts.


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