Six essential elements for a good business case

29 Jan

 gave a brief description as to what an IS business case is and  clarified certain issues with regards to composing a business case. I will attempt to provide a structure for a good business case by expanding on what both timh88 and  have touched on. One of the main objectives of an IS business case is to act as a tool for communication. It should be created in such a way that the target audience recognizes and with sufficient detail in order to enable successful decision making on behalf of him/her. It makes no odds as to how big or small the business case is. Making sure that the business case delivers the correct amount of information is what matters because it ensures that the job of the decision maker is possible. A business case can be in the shape of a verbal message, It does not have to be a written document. However, the structure and content is the same as if it were written up. Flexibility is vital for putting together a successful business case.

Structure of a Business Case

1. Executive Summary: This offers a shortened version of the main idea of the business case. Typically it should be kept to one or two pages. It should contain objectives, proposed solutions, benefits, risks and some of the key dates. The executive summary should always be written last.

2. Objectives: This should illustrate why a particular case has come about. This could be due to one of the following:

  • An opportunity that generates a benefit
  • A mandatory change
  • A correction of a wrong

There are a number of ways this section can be structured. The first way is suitable for business cases that have to do with correcting a wrong. Define the situation at present and illustrate what the adverse impact might be. The second way, more appropriate for business cases that have to do with new opportunities or mandatory changes, is to apply the following structure:

  1. Define how it is at present.
  2. Describe how it will look in the future, when the proposed solution is put in place.

The third way, more suitable for new opportunities, is to express what the business case is suggesting and explain the reasons why it is being considered.

3. Project alternatives: List a few alternatives that were considered, including benefits and costs, and risk assessment. You should include the right amount of detail so you don’t overwhelm the reader and yet provide the sufficient amount of information for quality decision making.

4. Preferred alternative: You should state what the preferred option is and suggest why it is preferred.

5. Implementation plan: It is suitable to offer a few ideas on how the implementation of the preferred solution should continue, to illustrate that you’re presenting a carefully thought through solution.

6. Appendices: You should include all of the supporting information.


The following link offers an insight into a more detailed explanation of essential elements for a successful business case:

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