A business case is the justification of a project initiation. It captures the reasoning for why a project has been initiated and what are the goals behind it. In PRINCE2, business case is one of the seven themes in project management. According to PRINCE2 approach, every project big or small should have a business case. It justifies the existence of a project. The business case should be followed throughout the project and that justification should be valid till the end of the project. The business case outlines the reason for undertaking a project and specifies the guidelines to manage a project. From project framework to budget and hierarchy of reporting to roles and responsibilities, a business case carries it all. You know that business case is important for projects and is prescribed by different project methodologies, but can you justify the need for a business case. Let’s give an attempt.
Answer to the Question “Why”
Suppose, you are initiating a project on social media campaign and building a business case for the same. The business case answers the primary question “why” for the project. Why are you taking up a social media campaign? The answer is – social media is the world that every people see and use and there are huge chances of revenue increase due to the initiation of the project. The business case includes this reasoning mentioning the expected revenue from the project. Besides this justification, few other things too should be included in the business case. The process such as how the social media campaign will be taken over, the budget defined for each social media like Facebook and Twitter, the reporting hierarchy etc., should be included as well. This business case should be valid throughout the project life cycle. Any point of time when the justification seems invalid, for example: the investment is not meeting the expected revenue; the project should be either called off or molded with other features to validate the justification. This call of action is again mentioned in the business case. Here, in this project the business case will help you to carry the project effectively. You have a goal defined and a reasoning supported to initiate the project. You have a defined budget within which the project needs to be completed. Anytime you get stuck with the project, you have the business case to refer to. Business case includes the following pointers that help one during the project lifecycle.
- Project Summary – Brief of a project and the necessary elements related to the project
- Justification – The reason for initiating the project that should be valid till the end
- Project Goal – The goal that the project needs to accomplish by the end
- Project Framework – The framework that defines the processes of the project
- Budget and Time Plan – The budget assigned the time defined to complete the project
- Performance Measures – The measures to analyze the performance of the project
3 Purposes of a Business Case
- A business case makes sure that a project is moving in a systematic manner. The project manager compares the project’s initiation and progress with the business case and comes to the conclusion of project meeting up expectations or not.
- A business case gives a step by step direction for a project. Each of the project processes are defined in the business case along with the reporting hierarchy and budget. This removes confusion and manages a clear communication between team members and project manager.
- A business case not just provides the reasoning for a project but also defines the budget and timelines for a project. The budget to be invested for the project and the timeline within which a project needs to be completed is mentioned in the business case. Also measures to be taken when budget or timeline is exceeded too are clearly being noted in the case.
These are the reasons that justify the need for a business case. It provides the foundation for a project. As the cost and complexity of a project increases, the importance of business case too increases, thus it being one of the most integral parts in project management.