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Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.30.08

Describe Project Value Using a Business Case

It can be hard to compare and prioritize the projects in your portfolio because there are many different types of projects. Some projects might increase revenue, some might decrease costs and some might help build internal capability. All of them have some benefit but it may not be easy to know which ones are the most valuable and which ones are the most aligned to your goals and strategies.

One of the ways that you compare projects is through a common Business Case. The Business Case describes the reasons and the justification for the project based on its estimated costs, the risks involved and the expected future business benefits and value. The sponsor is responsible for the Business Case.

Business Cases should contain the following information:

·      Executive Summary. This section contains five components.

o   Opportunity Statement. This is often written as a problem statement, describing a current situation with a negative business impact, which the implementation of this project will resolve.

o   Desired State. Given the business opportunity, what do you see as being the final result of this project?

o   Benefit Analysis. We’ll cover more detail later, but at a high level describe the benefits of implementing this project and obtaining your desired state. How will the business be better off?

o   Alternative Analysis. If multiple alternatives were explored to realize the business opportunity, briefly describe these alternatives here.

o   Recommendation. Given your opportunity, desired state, benefits, and alternatives, what is it that you’re recommending being done?

·      Overview

o   Project Description. Summarize the project you are proposing.

o   Project Goals & Objectives, List the goals and objectives of this project.

o   Assumptions. There may be several items you are assuming to be true, which you have not been able to verify.

o   Constraints. List any constraints that will govern or limit the project team.

o   Proposed Solution Design. Describe the high-level approach that will be taken.

o   Project Resource Needs. Briefly describe the resources you will need to deploy this project.

o   Project Duration.  List the high-level milestones and best-guess as to the duration of each.

o   Risk Assessment. List initial known risks of the project.

·      Cost Benefit Analysis. Provide a high-level estimate of the costs and benefits of the project. The format of this section should be consistent for all projects so that the projects can be compared.

·      Alignment. All projects should align to your organization's strategic plan. Some align better and take the organization further. The alignment should be described so that it is clear how the project helps to move the organization to its desired future state. 

·      Conclusion. Summarize the business case and draw one or more conclusions regarding the proposed solution, business value, ROI, etc.

It may seem like this is a lot of work. In fact, it might be. However, the Business Case is used to determine the projects that get funding and those that don’t. So, it is important to spend the right amount of time on the Business Case. If you don’t do a good job on this document, your project may not compare favorably with other projects that have more detail and relevant information. 

At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at
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