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Why is it Important to Begin a Project With the Business Case?

The Business Case demonstrates why the project is needed and what its benefits will be. These truths may seem self-evident to you and others who are close to the situation, but decision makers are dealing with a myriad of other efforts vying for their approval, and they might not get it. If you want to get leadership and other stakeholders to approve your project, build a strong Business Case.

How to Use the Business Case Template

The Business Case Template is best used in a collaborative setting:

  1. Invite everyone who should contribute to the Business Case (Service Owner, Subject-Matter Experts, etc.)  to a work session of 3-4 hours with breaks and snacks. 
  2. Before the session, copy the template onto a large whiteboard or a set of poster-sized post-its. Leave plenty of room for people to add their content to each section of the Business Case. 
  3. At the beginning of the session, supply each person with plenty of post-its (3x5 or 4x5 are a good size) and pens.
  4. Start with the Background: 
    a. Give participants time to write down things that have led up to the current situation, one item per post-it note. Have them post their items as they complete them. Encourage discussion among participants as they write and post their thoughts–this leads to a more complete collection of items. (Don't worry about duplication of items at this point; these can be weeded out when drafting the document.)
    b. When participants can think of no more items to add to this section, read each post-it aloud to the group and invite discussion, elaboration, clarification. Capture this information somehow–on the post-it, in an accompanying note, or have somebody typing up what people are saying.
  5. Move through each section in the same manner.


What led up to the current situation?
post-it note, post-it note, post-it note... 
Current Situation 
How things are working now? 
post-it note, post-it note, post-it note... 
Problem With Current Situation 
Why is this project needed? 

post-it note, post-it note, post-it note... 

Proposed Solution 
The proposed project.
post-it note, post-it note, post-it note... 

What are the alternatives?

post-it note, post-it note, post-it note... 

Why is the proposed solution better? 
Why the proposed direction was chosen. 
post-it note, post-it note, post-it note...  
What are the benefits? 
The business value of this project for the  customers, stakeholders, end users. 

post-it note, post-it note, post-it note...  

How does the proposed solution align with Penn State's or the Unit's strategic goals?post-it note, post-it note, post-it note...  


By the end of the session, you will have a well populated Business Case ready for transcribing into the first draft of the document. Thank the participants for a job well done!

After the Session

Go through the draft Business Case with the contributing participants (and other helpful people) in subsequent collaborative sessions (in person and/or online), and gather additions and changes until everyone feels that the Business Case is  ready to share with the decision makers.

Once you have developed the Business Case, you and the group are ready to create the Product Vision.

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