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What a business case is


A business case is a document which is used to justify spending money on a new project or service. It sets out a ‘case for change’ and centres around three basic questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • How are we going to get there?

You don't need to be a business expert to write a business case, but you do need to find out and organise lots of information. This involves plenty of research as well as meetings and workshops with stakeholders.

Writing a business case is not a linear process. You will need to write different parts at different times, depending on how much information you have, and who is available to help you.

Running workshops

One of the most important things you can do at the start of writing a business case is to run a workshop with your key stakeholders. This helps to get people engaged, and can give you a better understanding of the problem.

It is also useful in helping you gather as much information as you can before you start writing. You might need to run more than one workshop to get everything you need.      

The objectives of the workshop are to identify and agree:

  • spending objectives
  • existing arrangements
  • business needs
  • potential scope
  • key service requirements
  • related benefits and risks
  • constraints and inter-dependencies

The people you need at the workshop are:

  • senior managers (business)
  • customers and stakeholders (users)
  • experts in relevant fields (technical)
  • experienced practitioner(s) to facilitate the workshop

The Five Case Model

Once you have the information you need, you can begin planning your business case using ‘The Five Case Model’ framework.

The 5 cases are:

  1. Strategic case (why are you doing this project?)
  2. Economic case (what is the best way of doing it?)
  3. Commercial case (how will you procure the solution?)
  4. Financial case (how will you pay for it?)
  5. Management case (how will you manage the delivery of the project?)

Strategic case


The strategic case makes the ‘case for change’ and demonstrates how it fits in with your organisation’s strategic objectives and long-term vision.

You will explain how the project contributes to:

  • achieving key strategic goals
  • enhancing organisational capabilities
  • addressing emerging challenges or opportunities

Economic case


The economic case identifies the proposal that delivers best public value.

You will first need to develop a long list of options. This means researching the solutions that are available to deliver your project.

Once you have a good idea of your options, you need to agree a shortlist. You do this by looking at 3 things for each option:

  • desirability - does this meet your objectives?
  • achievability - how difficult is it to do?
  • feasability - how affordable is it?

Commercial case


The commercial case demonstrates that the preferred option is attractive to the market, can be procured and is commercially viable.

You will need to analyse the market demand and customer needs that the project aims to address. This means:

  • evaluating market trends
  • describing the competitive landscape
  • identifying risks or barriers to entry

Financial case


The financial case demonstrates that the preferred option is affordable and has the support of stakeholders and customers.

You will need to explain how the project aligns with the organisation's financial objectives and priorities.

Management case


The management case demonstrates that the preferred option is achievable and that robust arrangements are in place for the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the solution.

You will need to:


  • evaluate the operational feasibility of the project from a management and organisational perspective
  • assess project governance, resource availability, project management capabilities, and potential constraints or dependencies
  • develop strategies to address operational challenges and ensure effective project execution


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