Business Case Definition
A business case is part of a project's mandate, produced before a project is initiated. Although it may be crafted by many people, the business case is owned by the executive sponsor.
The business case addresses, at a high level, the business need that the project seeks to meet. It includes the reasons for the project, the expected business benefits, the options considered (with reasons for rejecting or carrying forward each option), the expected costs of the project, a GAP analysis and the expected risks.
In almost all cases, the option of doing nothing should be included with the costs and risks of inactivity included along with the differences (costs, risks, outcomes, etc.) between doing nothing and the proposed project. It is from this that the justification for the project is derived.
The case will be reviewed at the initiation of the project (before the go/no-go decision is made) and should be reviewed periodically during the running of the project to ensure that:
- The business case is still valid, i.e. the business need still exists.
- The project is still on track to deliver the solution to the business need.
As a result of this review the project may be terminated or future parts amended. The business case may also be subject to amendment if the review concludes that the business need has abated or changed.
I've also put together a short online course that describes project management fundamentals if you're interested in learning more about this profession.