At the heart of all great projects lies a great funding submission! 

We all know it’s hard to get noticed in an environment of competing projects and finite budgets. To convince and reassure decision-makers that your initiative is worth the money you’re seeking, you need to build the best business case you can. One that makes a compelling argument for why your project should be funded above all others.  

Before you dive into the business case, planning it is essential. Nike’s advice to “Just do it” won’t help you get your funding approval letter. That’s why we sat down (virtually!) with Emaleen Najjar from RNSW Strategy and Business Development to gain some insight on how your team can set the wheels in motion. 

Hi Emaleen! Tell us about your role at RNSW Strategy and Business Development? 

My role was mainly focused on business case development as well as a bit of strategy and portfolio planning work.  

What are some important things to think about before beginning a business case? 

Identify your key stakeholders who you will need to provide input and be involved in the business case development. 

Before focusing on what the solution will look like, you need to think about what is the reason the business case is needed? What is the problem that we are trying to solve or what are we trying to improve? 

What have you learned since your first business case?

Ensure that you have enough time to prepare the business case. Developing a business case is not just about writing. Time is also needed to work closely with the relevant stakeholders and the delivery team to understand the requirements, write the business case and review and seek endorsement from key stakeholders. This involves running multiple workshops with stakeholders. 

What are the steps you take, from start to finish, in developing a business case? 

  1. Identify key stakeholders 
  2. Understand the case for change. Why do we need to do this project? 
  3. Work with the business and team who will be delivering the project to understand their needs and requirements. This will help scope the business case, identify benefits and to get clearer understanding of the effort and time required 
  4. Draft the business case, as well as supporting documents (business case, forecast, cost-benefit analysis) 

What do you think are the essential pillars of a convincing business case? 

Making the case for change strong – the business case should convince the reader that doing this project is a must! 

I wouldn’t focus too much on the length of the business case. A strong business case can still be short and succinct if all the sections are covered. It’s better to get straight to the point rather than having a business case that is wordy and difficult to follow. 

How much time should be spent in preparing a business case? 

At least 6 weeks (about 1 and a half months)! Don’t rush it!

What are some helpful tools and resources you have used when writing a business case? 

The digital.nsw website has some useful information and resources, as well as the NSW Treasury website, which provides some helpful tips on developing a business case. 

Within DCS, we also have Project Central – a hub for project management which also includes a page on business case development, including a FAQs, examples, templates (cost-benefit analysis etc.) and a video walking you through the steps to develop a strong business case. 

What would your advice be to first-time business case writers? 

Make sure you’re working with your stakeholders along the way. If something doesn’t make sense, make sure you question it. Assume the person who will read your business case and ultimately decide on whether to approve it has no context to what the business case is about or what your team does.