Three keys of a business case

If you have to compete for resources or budget or sell an idea, one of the keys is a business case.  One way to think of a business case is "how big is the pie" and "what's your slice."  You use the business case either to argue for your project or in argument against other projects competing for the same resources and budget.

The Three Keys of a Business Case
Because the business case is such a critical piece of the project puzzle, I asked one of my mentors for their take on an effective business case.   Here's the keys:

  1. Problem has to be apparent .   It's apprehensible.  As a stakeholder, I can attach to it.   It's real.  I relate to the examples.  I can see it, smell it, and can relate to instances of it.
  2. Compelling benefit.   It has to be meaningful to the stakeholders (spell out what's in it for them.)
  3. Clear path to return.  How do I realize the path?  When do I start getting paid? Cut my staff by 1/2 when?  What actions happen that are specific to the stakeholders ?

The Fourth Key
My mentor was on a roll and added an additional key: 

4.  Risk / reward "options."   The key is to be able to chunk down the value or the risk into an acceptable size (right-size the risk.)  For example "I like your idea, but it's too big a chunk to bite off."

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