Business Case Builder: Sharpen Your Weapons, Fight the Good Fight

Fight the Good Fight

Captain’s Log, Entry 8274.1The decisive battle on the way to business case success is the full-scale business case review. Unfortunately , too many case builders show up for battle unarmed and completely clueless about how to counterattack the critics. You can win the business case review battle if you show up armed and ready to fight the good fight.

Decision makers rely on business case analysis to build the understanding and confidence they need to take action. You know this already if you have recently submitted a funding request or project proposal. You know this also if you serve on committees for budgetary planning, capital spending, or strategy.

The Business Case Review is Mandatory Almost Everywhere

Business case delivers compelling reasoning and cost and revenue forecasts

Deploy and deliver business case cash flow forecasts, financial metrics, risk analysis, and tactical advice for actions and investments. Build a compelling rationale that turns business case results into convincing business case proof.

At least three ongoing trends in the current business climate drive organizations of all kinds to make the business case mandatory and business case review mandatory.

  • First, the business climate today has a low tolerance for management error.
  • Second, the need for rock-solid accountability is increasing.
  • Third, the competition for scarce funds is intense.
  • Finally, managers must now show why the course they choose is the best course. And, they must show this in business terms.

As a result, everyone talks about the business case these days, and most know they must pass a business case review to succeed with proposals for projects, acquisitions,  proposals, and funding requests. Nevertheless, surprisingly few truly know what belongs in a quality business case or how to defend it in a business case review.

Arm Yourself: Prepare for All the Questions.

Most do know do know that the business case is an analysis meant to address this question: “What happens if we take this, or that action?” The internet today is awash with books, training, templates, and consultants promising to help you answer the “What happens?” question.

For credibility, accuracy, and practical value in real-world business, however, your case must address also questions like these: Is funding your proposal a good business decision? Will we really see these results? Can we expect significant non-financial impacts? And, which risks should we know about?

Business case proof is compelling and defensible only when case builders address all the questions. That means decision makers need business case results with:

  • Trustworthy forecasts for the timing and magnitudes of cash inflows and outflows that result from an action.
  • Quantitative risk and sensitivity analysis, identifying likely risk factors that can have significant impact.
  • Reasoning and evidence that make the case for choosing one action over another, or for choosing “Action” over “No Action.”

This is the basic armament the case builder must take into the business case review.  You cannot fight the good fight at your business case review if you are unprepared in area.

Most case-building resources available today are blind to this need and cannot answer credibly. Most provide little more than a few cost and revenue forecasts for a proposed action or investment. Know  that forecasts alone are not a business case! In business today, real-world managers ask all the questions, and they expect answers they can trust

Business Case Analysis: Who Needs It?

Senior managers are acutely aware that solid case-building skills are in demand, but rare. Consequently, those who master case-building skills have a real advantage over their professional colleagues. As a result, they have the advantage in business areas such as the following:

  • Project management and product management.
  • Acquiring assets and asset management.
  • Finance and financial control.
  • Strategic decision and strategic planning.
  • Budget planning.
  • Corporate governance and accountability.
  • And, they have a special advantage in the job search.

By popular demand, our feature article Business Case Analysis is now online.  Find here a complete guide to business case analysis. And, find here answers to questions like these:

  • How do I show that my proposal is a good business decision? And, can I prove this in compelling terms?
  • Can I convince the skeptics we will really see the results I project?
  • Are there methods for valuing important non-financial business benefits? And, how do I show that the case includes all relevant costs?
  • How do I measure risk for proposal outcomes? And, how can we reduce risk? Also, which risks must we be especially alert for.
  • What is the best way to show critical success factors we must manage to target levels?
  • How do I show what happens if we do not take action? And, how do I show what happens if we choose other proposals instead? Also, which alternatives should my case compare?
  • Finally, what is the best practical advice I can give with case results?

Where to Go From Here: Take Action!

For new and veteran case builders alike, see our article Business Case Analysis.

Learn case design from our ebooks, the Business Case Guide or the best-selling authority in print, Business Case Essentials.

Download today the premier case building books and software from The Master Case Builder Shop!

Learn and practice the premier case building methods at a Business Case Master Class Seminar.

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Solution Matrix Limited, Publisher.

Author: Marty Schmidt

Marty Schmidt is Founder and President of Solution Matrix Limited, a Boston-based firm specializing in Business Case Analysis. Dr. Schmidt leads the firm's Management Consulting, Publishing, and Professional Training activities. He holds the M.B.A degree from Babson College and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.