Note: Some of the material is sourced from some kind person now lost in antiquity.
Published here June 2023.

Introduction | A Proposal/Business Case Template
Points 1‑5 | Points 6‑9 | Conclusion

Points 1 - 5

1.0 Executive Summary

This is very important. It must be short, sweet and to the point. See also earlier articles covering executive summaries.

2.0 Introduction &/or Background

In a big formal business case, likely to attract high profile attention, then include it all. Otherwise, include whichever of the following is necessary to make your case.

  • Background: Describe the chronology of events that lead to this proposal becoming relevant, e.g., "In response to concerns expressed by staff at last year's review, HR staff were surveyed ... and recommended that ".
     
  • Major Stakeholders: Get into the head of the decision maker for whom this document is authored. In this section you are answering his or her questions: "If I say yes, who's going to be happy?", "Who's going to be gunning for me?" and "What resources am I going to have to free up?".
     
  • Environment: Describe the part of the working environment that will be affected by this project. This is the context for the scope, which you will write for your subsequent Charter Document. A simple example: If your proposal is to introduce a water cooler then there will be a small change to the office geography, but a big change in the social interaction between staff members.
     
  • Author(s): Sell yourself!

3.0 Proposal

This is critical — of course! This is where you describe what you want to do, so consider the following sub headings:

  • Outline: Describe the change that you propose. Remember to use terminology and language appropriate to the reader.
     
  • Alternatives considered: There are always alternatives, even if it is to do nothing. You include this section to demonstrate that you have considered the options and that you are recommending the best one for the organization, not just you. Make a bullet point list, ending each alternative with a "but", i.e., why it is not the recommended option.
     
  • Arguments for: Don't confuse this with costs vs benefits. Arguments for is regarding your proposal compared to the alternatives.
     
  • Arguments against: Again, this is about your proposal compared to alternatives. If there is a down side at all it is appropriate that the decision makers hear about it from you. (And better for your case — it may be a matter of influence!)

4.0 Costs

This is a section you would normally include. If your proposal is leading to some actual project work then there are two areas of costs that you need to address.

  • Initial: What is it going to cost to execute the project? That is to say, how much is needed up front.
     
  • Ongoing: Once the change has been implemented, how is the budget for the target environment going to be effected? What are the on-going costs? For example, subscriptions, maintenance, additional resource requirements, etc.

5.0 Benefits

Firstly you need to establish a link between your proposal and the corporate mission. How will what you are proposing contribute to what the organization is all about? For extra brownie points: use words from the corporate mission statement!

There are two elements to benefits:

  • Tangible: The more obvious, measurable benefits like projected revenue, reductions in staff turnover or reductions in operational costs.
     
  • Intangible: Sometimes the real payload of a project are the benefits which are most difficult to quantify. There's no doubt that a happy workforce tends to be more productive than a miserable one.
A Proposal/Business Case Template  A Proposal/Business Case Template

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