Business case structure: how to write a business case

This article explores the key elements of writing a business case, what should be included and why.

Shark Finesse
May 20, 2021

To write a business case you need to remain focused on four key elements and follow a structure alongside working with your client - because let’s face it, no one knows a business better than the owner right?

A business case should be to the point and consist of only relevant information for the client so it’s important to distinguish what is and isn’t relevant to your client before you begin. If you want to convince your client that they’re making a sound investment by working with you, you need to know what is and isn’t important to them. Here we look at how to write a successful business case and what structure you should follow for that bulletproof case that will make you stand out from your competitors.

What are the key elements on how to write a business case?

Writing a business case is made up of many different elements, but there are four main points to follow to present the strongest business case possible. You will need to focus on goals, benefits, risks, timescales, cost and expected return on investment. Here’s some points to follow. 

1. Research & Benefits

Ensuring you know your client inside out is crucial to writing a solid business case for them. Research the market, your clients background, ethos, competitors and what alternatives they might look at. When doing your research, don’t forget about the trusty SWOT analysis! Use this technique to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. From here, you can work on what to target, what will work best for them and how you can achieve it. Remember, before you even begin you should assess what the clients goals are and work out what kind of ROI is going to turn their frown upside down. 

In terms of looking at the benefits, always use your client sponsored numbers as it is their business case after all. Benefits are always associated with costs and risks, so it’s important to mitigate the risks to turn them into benefits. Keep notes about the conversations you are having and where the benefit numbers are coming from as you don’t know who exactly may be reading the business case and it needs to be easily understood by everyone involved. 

2. Costs & ROI

This may well be one of the biggest points that a client will look at. Yes they want the business to grow and yes they want to succeed, but ultimately it does all come down to the money and what they will get back from working with you. Looking at costs, this isn’t just your solution costs, this is also any other costs associated with the business case that your customer will want covered such as; overtime costs, training, termination of their existing supplier and the list goes on. Making sure you’ve got all of this data is imperative because how can you build a business case without the actual facts? 

When assessing the costs involved, you need to plan how you will convert those costs into ROI (Return on investment). You will need to prove your calculations such as NPV (Net Present Value), IRR (Internal Rate of Return) and Payback. Without these calculations and proof of how you got there, the case might as well not be presented. Your client will want to know how, why and when they will see a ROI and your job is to present these. This might sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be - Shark software calculates all of these automatically and all you need to do is input the data and have a conversation with your client!

3. Compare and finalise your approach

It’s important to look at different options, evaluate what will work best and finalise a decision. When putting forward a business case you need to be confident that your strategy will work to give your client confidence too, but you also need to think about the best way to approach your client as each individual client is different. Think about your client's company and how they might prefer to be presented to. Are they a large corporate company or are they a small family run business? Consider this when preparing your presentation for them. 

It’s also important to make sure you have a direct summary that’s to the point and  includes an overview of what your client will gain from your business case. What is the goal and what will they achieve? Take time to look into the issues they’ve been having and what is obstructing them from achieving their goals currently and then you can build up from that. 

4. Document everything and use graphics to present your strategies, goals and options!

Documentation is everything, especially when it comes to building a business case. Gather together all of the data that has been provided to you and use this to plan your strategy. Ensuring you have collected all the data you need is imperative when it comes to building a business case, as there’s nothing more honest and accurate than looking at previous figures when setting out future goals. Consider what the clients goals are, the options available and how you can achieve the end result that they’re looking for.

Not only is it important to include all the relevant information required, but to also make it look appealing and easy to understand. Not everyone will look at numbers and calculations in the same way, so using graphs for costs and benefits will ensure that the client and their team will be able to understand it easily at a first glance. Using graphs and graphics will also break up the text, making it less overwhelming for the client to look at (and make sure they don’t switch off!). Better yet, to save you time that you could spend speaking to other potential clients, Shark software creates these aesthetically pleasing graphs and documents for you!

Writing a business case: What to do next

You now should have a good overview on how to write a business case. Remember, before sending your business case over to its recipients, it’s always a good idea to have a read through, check and double check for any errors, so you can be sure to put your business case in the best possible position.

What we do

At Shark Finesse we have developed an enterprise-grade cloud application to help businesses standardise and simplify their value engagements across the entire customer journey.

Shark, a business value engagement platform used by 1000’s of customer-facing teams globally (e.g. pre-sales, sales, value teams, and customer success) is easy to use, intuitive and usable directly with the customer to negotiate the likely business returns from investing in a solution.

By adopting the Shark approach you will fundamentally transform conversations with new and existing customers, close more business, and differentiate from the competition.