How to write a great business case

“How to write…” video series

2 min read

If you could get a green light for every decision you needed, first time, what would that mean? You’d make faster progress — and the satisfaction of nailing it, well, that’s golden. There’s a five-question formula that will help you ace a proposal paper, business case, or new policy. You could use it for a board report, and it works equally well for emails. Read on to discover the secret of how to write a business case that works every time.

The 5 simple (but powerful) questions that hold the key to a successful business case

The secret to acing a decision boils down to answering these five questions. It’s not rocket science, but of the hundreds of decisions put in front of boards and leadership teams, I continue to be surprised at how many of them fail to answer these questions.

1. What is the need and why now?

So, first, frame your decision by answering, what is the need and why now? A common complaint I hear is that it’s not obvious why a decision even needs to be made, so make it compelling to decide. Anchor it in the things that your audience cares about, goals, strategy, or some greater purpose.

2. What is the ask of your reader?

Question two: what is the ask of your reader? How many times have you read a report and wondered, Why is this even coming to me? Don’t leave people guessing. Do you want a binary yes or no? Or something more subtle like their ideas or advice?

3. What do we propose to do and why?

Question three: what do we propose to do and why? This is the biggie. Outline your proposal, setting out clearly the expected benefits, the resources, and your rationale, and use evaluation criteria if helpful. The more objectively you do this, the more it enhances your credibility.

4. What options did we consider?

Question four: what options did we consider? Decision science tells us that good decision-making requires more than one option. Laying out alternatives avoids the pitfall of blinkered thinking. And if relevant, include the option of doing nothing.

5. What do we need to do to progress?

Question five: what do we need to do to progress? Be specific about how you’ll put your decision into action. You might also want to outline the impact of delaying or rejecting the decision altogether. And that’s the formula for getting a decision made and making progress faster.

If you found this useful, check back for other videos in this series and take a look at Lucia, our management reporting platform that helps you write brilliantly clever reports that spur your business to action.

  Lucia   Write great reports, every time    A thinking and writing platform that helps you to write brilliantly clever and  beautiful reports that surface breakthrough insights and spur your business to  action. Find out more

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