Projects are typically undertaken to solve a business problem or realize a business opportunity. It is therefore imperative that you spend the time upfront to investigate the business problem or opportunity before you attempt to find a solution to solve it. Note: To complete this section thoroughly, you may need to complete a Feasibility Study.

Identify the Root Cause

First, you need to determine the root cause of the problem or opportunity by analyzing the environment within which it has arisen. For instance, the root cause of a problem or opportunity may be related to:

  • Changes to the business vision, strategy or objectives
  • Newly identified competing products or processes
  • Opportunities resulting from newly introduced technologies
  • Commercial or operational trends that are driving business changes
  • Changes to statutory, legislative or other environmental requirements

Describe the Problem

Document the problem in detail by listing the:

  • Reasons why the problem has arisen
  • Elements that have created the problem (e.g. human, process, technology)
  • Impact the problem is having on the business (e.g. financial, cultural, operational)
  • Timeframes within which the problem must be resolved

Examples of business problems that require projects to solve them include: inefficient business processes, outdated technology, poor customer satisfaction, low profitability and increases in competitor market share.

Describe the Opportunity

If the project is being formed to realize a business opportunity (rather than solve a business problem), then you will need to:

  • Describe the business opportunity in detail
  • Identify why and how the opportunity has come about
  • List the timeframes within which the opportunity will exist
  • Define the impact that realizing the opportunity will have on the business

Whether the project is being formed to solve a problem or realize a business opportunity, you will need to collate all supporting evidence possible to prove to the Project Sponsor that it is real and that it must be resolved within the timeframes specified.

Align to Goals and Strategies

Goals describe where the organization wants to be in two-to-three years. Strategies provide guidance in how to reach the goals. The Business Case for each project should describe how the work of the project aligns to goals and strategies. This ensures that the right work is selected. If a project does not align it should not be approved.

When comparing projects, it is possible to compare project alignment. Some projects align to multiple goals and strategies. Some projects take the organization further toward reaching the goals and strategies. When you compare the Business Case of different projects, you can use alignment (along with business value) to determine the overall project priorities.  

Develop a Business Case Identify the Alternative Solutions