A business case analysis (BCA) looks not only at lowest costs, but also at technical value and other nonquantitative factors in what is known as a best-value analysis. The BCA addresses the triple constraints of time, money, and scope, and it can include measures such as performance, reliability, viability, and supportability.
How to Write a Business Case: Examples, Templates, and Checklists
This article presents expert tips on how to write a business case. We also provide a checklist to prepare for, write, and present a business case, along with free, easy-to-use Word and PowerPoint business case templates.
In addition, a business case forecasts the costs, benefits, and risks of an initiative, so decision makers — and even the project initiators — can decide whether a project is worthwhile and why to choose one approach over similar strategies.
Jim Maholic has over 20 years of experience with IT strategy and business case development, including two stints as a CIO, two management positions with the Big Four consulting firms, and leadership positions at several technology companies.
He describes a business case in this way: “A business case is the full story that explains the ROI for a capital project. It begins with a statement of a business problem, then explores how we can solve it or what the value of solving it is. For example, ‘Our revenues aren’t rising as fast as they should,’ or ‘Inventory isn’t turning over as fast as it should,’ or ‘Costs are too high.’ That’s where the business case starts.
“Then, we find out how big this problem is. We talk to people in the company and find out what they think the value of solving the problem is. All this information is packaged into a story that says, ‘Here’s the problem. Here’s the value of solving the problem. Here’s what it costs in hardware, software, or whatever. Here are the benefits. And here’s the whole story.’”
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A business case explains why stakeholders should invest in a project. The purpose of a business case contrasts with that of a project proposal, which provides a high-level outline of what you want to initiate and its benefits to the company, or that of a project plan, which explains how you execute a project. You should create your business case during the earliest stages of project planning.
Other names and uses for business cases are financial justification, cost-benefit analysis (CBA), total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis, and return on investment (ROI) analysis. Nonprofits and government entities sometimes refer to business cases as case statements.
The Top 4 Benefits of Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Case Study
1. Case studies allow a company to use storytelling to bring their product to life
Whether it’s a service or a hard-and-fast consumer product, a case study is an excellent way to illustrate it and help bring it to life for new customers. Just like any great novel, a good case study has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a conflict and a resolution. It’s a wildly effective way to make somewhat complex products real and can go a long way toward improving the way your clients perceive your offerings.
2. Case studies provide peer-to-peer influence
Peer-to-peer influence is a massively important thing, and case studies are wonderful at fulfilling it because they offer the view of a customer rather than a company. While it’s a company that publishes a case study, the entire thing is dedicated to recounting a customer’s experience. Direct quotes, statistics, and more are standard, and these things are fantastic for helping would-be clients to see the value in a company.
3. Case studies offer real-life examples
We’ve all heard about how critical customer reviews are for conversion rates, and case studies take this one step further. By providing real-life examples of your product at work, paired with glowing customer reviews, they can help new customers feel more confident in your company and take the leap to convert.
4. Case studies are powerful word-of-mouth advertising
Because a company must ask permission from a client to use his or her data in a case study, the inclusion of a customer in a case study often leads to some brand evangelism that can help boost your company’s visibility and improve your conversion rates.
How to Write a Business Case Study: Your Complete Guide in 5 Steps
1. Identify your best possible avenue for data
When it comes time to write a case study, you might have multiple cases to choose from. The first part of being successful, though, is narrowing these things down. For your case study to succeed, it must contain just the right information, and it’s critical to ensure this from the get-go. To determine which of your various cases would be the best fit for a study, look at them and evaluate whether or not they contain the following elements:
2. Write your case study (5 key tips)
EXAMPLE: Our client-based case study at Express Writers does this, and it flows quite nicely. If you’re going to use a combination of both the first and the third person, though, be sure that you’re enhancing the third-person parts with direct quotes from the client, as straight third-person voice can sound overly narrated after a while.
Many people think that learning how to write a business case study involves incorporating jargon and corporate-speak into the writing. Fortunately, this isn’t true. In fact, writing a business case study requires you to keep your language simple rather than making it more complicated. The more you can avoid corporate jargon in your case studies, the better.
When you look at the case study titles above, most people would agree that “increased webinar sign-up rates by 1,000%” is the most memorable phrase up there. In addition to the fact that this is a shocking number, it’s also so precise that it grabs reader attention.
With this in mind, follow KISSmetrics’s lead and include real numbers in your case studies. While phrases like “doubled this” or “tripled that” are powerful, they just don’t have the added oomph they need to take your case study to the top.
A case study is not the place to leave out critical data. Instead, write from the beginning to the end and keep it as accurate and chronological as possible. This will help flesh out the entire circumstances surrounding your interaction with the client and allow your readers to understand your impact more effectively.
3. Finish the case study with all of your relevant contact information
Since a case study is designed, at least in part, for press distribution, it should be outfitted with your contact information and details. This will allow other companies, customers, and more to contact you regarding the case study, and will help to make the information within it more accessible to other people.
While there are different standards for which information you “should” include in a case study, most sources recommend including your phone number, website, email, and one or two social profiles, along with a short bio. This will provide enough information for interested parties to contact you and can help boost the ROI of your case study down the road.
4. Hire a designer to finish the product
Don’t forget that every good case study needs a great design, and it can be helpful to bring in a designer to add some visual interest to the piece. Simple things, like using text boxes to pull out key facts, statistics, and quotes, and inputting related graphics and charts can make all of the difference in your case study and should be used liberally to enhance its value and interest.
5. Publish the case study
Publishing your case study is the final step in creating it. To get the most success from your case study, you’ll want to post it in the places your real audience and prospective customers frequent. This may mean publishing the case study on your blog, reaching out to relevant publishing platforms, or gating the case study and using it to drive email sign-ups for your company.
Most clients and prospects would rather hear from the people who use your products over a salesperson, any day. So use the power of trust to help you close the sale with a great business case study highlighting your results.
What is the best business case study format?
The best business case study format depends on the nature of the results and whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. You can figure that out by carefully reviewing your customer success stories and interviews.
How do I create a business case study outline?
To create a business case study outline, list all of your featured sections and use bullet points to note subsections and what should be covered. Most case studies feature the following sections: Introduction, Brief Description of Customer’s Business, Problem/Challenge/Opportunity, Solution, Results/Conclusion, Boiler, and Call-to-Action (CTA). But outlines aren’t just for traditional case studies. Use outlines to guide your infographic and video versions too.
What are some case study best practices?
Case study best practices include planning objectives and goals before selecting your featured client, sending pre-interview questionnaires, and finding an angle that will make the piece compelling to all of your readers. Also be sure to get the approval of your client and their marketing team after you’ve had time to review your first draft and fact-check all information.
Best practices for writing case studies include crafting short, easy-to-digest sections, weaving in a narrative for engaging storytelling, and getting attention from the start with an engaging headline. It’s also a great idea to write in layman’s terms, explain any necessary acronyms, include any supporting metrics or statistics, and use direct quotes to bring your customer’s story to life. Check out the featured case study examples in this article for inspiration.
Where can I find a good case study design template?
You can find a good case study design template on PandaDoc. Our company’s expertise is spot-on and the case study templates are free. Also, don’t be afraid to branch out. Let’s say you have a big following on YouTube or Spotify. You might want to create a video or podcast version of your case study for readers who prefer audiovisual information. Or, you may want to add multimedia content to your case study, such as a video insert or or audio clip.
Hanna is a Senior SEO Content Manager who keeps up to date with Content Marketing and SEO trends at PandaDoc. This, in turn, helps her to connect real people with relevant messages. In her spare time, Hanna is keen on writing and taking surfing trips.