The Business Case is the document that, at the start of any formal change project, sets out the overall reasons for undertaking that project. These reasons should support the strategic aim and goals of the council and be clearly, and quantitatively , described.
A business case sets out the advantages of doing something and the disadvantages of not doing something to the decision makers. A business case is a sales tool, a mechanism for persuasion and a communications vehicle for influencing. The process of writing a business case is to influence the audience. The audience is the person, or people, that will ultimately decide to allow your changes to happen. These decision makers include:
- the sponsor- or else the project will not even start
- the funding source - or you will have no resource
- project team members - or they will not be motivated
- staff affected by the change(s) - or they will oppose it
- citizens affected by the change(s) - or they may only see drawbacks and complain
The Business Case is the first piece of content generated for the Communications Plan and it can be used to convince all the stakeholders.
The Business Case for the change project should preferably be described in terms of important outcomes i.e. improvements in citizen services or financial savings. The Business Case both makes the case for the change project in the first place and sets down what the results of a successful project will look like after they are implemented. The future results that are described in the Business Case must be clear enough for the proposal for change to be made, and also to construct the project measurements in the Results Plan. This is because the descriptions of the project benefits, in the Business Case, are later measured in the Results Plan. This means:
- the reason for the change project is contained in the benefits (e.g. reduced errors in the generation of council tax bills)
- the benefits need to be clear enough to be obviously worthwhile (e.g. a 25% reduction in bills that contain errors equivalent to 2200 bills sent out - i.e. use numbers)
- when the project goes ahead it will have to deliver the benefits that are promised - it will need to measure them as important results (e.g. the number of bills with errors is measured over the course of each year and the target is a reduction in erroneous bills of 25%)
The likely consequences of not creating a business case will include:
- inability to 'sell' the change project to the leaders of the council or other stakeholders
- deciding on the wrong or irrelevant changes
- inability to measure the results of the change
- inability to prove that the benefits of the project were realised.
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