Small Business Glossary

Business Case Development - definition & overview


A Business Case is an evidence-based argument to justify or support a proposed business project or initiative.

Developing a robust business case is a vital step in the life cycle of any successful project or venture. It serves as the foundation upon which your business or project will be built, providing a clear roadmap for your team and stakeholders. A well-crafted business case can help you secure funding, gain stakeholder buy-in, and set clear, measurable goals for your project.

The Importance of a Business Case

A business case is more than just a document. It's a strategic tool that helps you articulate your vision, justify your project, and establish a clear plan for success. It provides a comprehensive overview of your project, including the objectives, strategies, risks, and financial implications. This information is crucial for decision-makers who need to understand the value and feasibility of your project before committing resources.

Furthermore, a business case serves as a reference point throughout the project lifecycle. It helps keep the team focused and aligned, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals. It also provides a framework for monitoring progress and measuring success, allowing you to make informed decisions and adjustments as necessary.

Key Elements of a Business Case

While every business case is unique, there are several key elements that should be included to ensure it is comprehensive and effective.

Executive Summary

The executive summary provides a high-level overview of your business case. It should succinctly summarise the project objectives, strategies, and expected outcomes. This section is particularly important for busy stakeholders who may not have time to read the entire document.

Despite its position at the beginning of the document, the executive summary is often best written last. This allows you to draw on all the detailed information you have gathered and present it in a concise, compelling manner.

Project Description

This section provides a detailed description of the project. It should outline the project's objectives, scope, and deliverables, as well as the strategies you plan to use to achieve these goals. The project description should also identify the key stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities.

When writing the project description, it's important to be clear and specific. Avoid jargon and technical terms that may not be understood by all readers. Instead, use plain, straightforward language that accurately conveys your project's purpose and approach.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a critical component of any business case. It provides a detailed breakdown of the project's costs and benefits, allowing stakeholders to assess the financial viability of the project.

This section should include a thorough analysis of all potential costs, including direct costs (such as materials and labour) and indirect costs (such as overheads and contingencies). It should also outline the expected benefits, both tangible (such as increased revenue or cost savings) and intangible (such as improved customer satisfaction or brand reputation).

Risk Assessment

Every project involves some level of risk. A comprehensive risk assessment identifies potential risks and outlines strategies for managing them. This not only demonstrates that you have considered all possible scenarios, but also reassures stakeholders that you are prepared to handle any challenges that may arise.

The risk assessment should consider both internal and external risks, ranging from project-specific risks (such as delays or cost overruns) to broader business risks (such as market fluctuations or regulatory changes). It should also outline your risk management strategies, including risk mitigation measures and contingency plans.

Developing a Compelling Business Case

Developing a compelling business case requires careful planning, thorough research, and clear communication. Here are some tips to help you create a business case that resonates with stakeholders and drives your project forward.

Understand Your Audience

Before you start writing your business case, take the time to understand your audience. What are their priorities and concerns? What information do they need to make a decision? By tailoring your business case to your audience, you can ensure that it addresses their needs and speaks their language.

Remember, your audience may include a wide range of stakeholders, from senior executives to team members to potential investors. Each group will have different needs and perspectives, so consider creating different versions of your business case for different audiences.

Use Evidence and Data

A business case is not just a sales pitch. It's a fact-based document that provides a rational, evidence-based argument for your project. Use data and evidence to support your claims and demonstrate the value of your project. This could include market research, financial projections, case studies, or expert opinions.

However, be careful not to overwhelm your audience with too much information. Present your data in a clear, digestible format, using charts, graphs, and infographics where appropriate. And always make sure your sources are reliable and up-to-date.

Be Clear and Concise

Clarity and conciseness are key when writing a business case. Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and overly complex language. Instead, use clear, straightforward language that your audience can easily understand.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Use bullet points, headings, and subheadings to break up the text and make it easier to read. And always proofread your work to ensure it is free from errors and inconsistencies.


Developing a robust business case is a critical step in the success of any project or venture. It not only helps secure funding and stakeholder buy-in, but also provides a clear roadmap for your team, setting the stage for a successful project delivery. By understanding your audience, using evidence and data, and communicating clearly and concisely, you can create a compelling business case that drives your project forward and delivers real value for your organisation.

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