The case for a business case

"I think we should start a circus."

One of my projects over the past few weeks has been to create a business case for a “bad idea,” something we have no chance of ever doing.  I am pretty sure that if I worked in a small business, I would have simply concluded instantly, “We are not doing that.  It is not worth it, what else ya got?” 

My colleagues and our leadership happen to love the business case.  It has provided the basis for objective discussion about this bad idea.  It seems that there has been reluctance to just call it what it is, because of concern about the origin of this bad idea.  Ah, the big company life!  Although this bad idea is new to me, it is one that has been discussed off and on since 2009.  The business case is based on many assumptions and the analysis is not that complex, yet they love it and I am getting the credit.  I will present the business case to an “officer” of the company next week.  An officer of the company is a big deal, so I will rehearse and prepare with the objective of getting a cease and desist order.  Not what I am usually going for. 

Business Case Recipe

  • Describe the problem to solve.  Answer the question; “How will things be different if we solve this problem?”
  • Use a four or five year time frame
  • Create an excel column for each year
  • Create four proposals with different levels of risk and estimated cost of implementation
  • List out all assumptions
  • Cite any references
  • Use Excel to calculate the net present value of the four options
  • Make a recommendation for one of the four proposals
  • Outline an implementation action plan and timeline

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