How to Make a Robust Business Case in the Public Sector

Stephanie Hutchings
11-Nov-2018 12:57:00

All local authorities will insist at some point on the presentation of a detailed business case for a new leisure project, technology, or facility. As this document will provide the foundation for investment approval by local authority members, it’s vital that considered attention is given to its creation. 

A business case provides the opportunity to persuade authorities of the value of your proposal. It’s your chance to show that you’ve thoroughly thought through its benefits and costs, to present a convincing argument for its implementation, and to demonstrate that it’s the best option for fulfilling a demand or meeting a specified target. 

The exact shape your business case takes will ultimately depend on what you are pitching for, but to be successful it must satisfy a few key criteria: 

  • It must be based on solid, credible research that you can present as supporting evidence for your argument
  • It should be detailed, clearly providing costings and financial impacts of your project, indicating sources of revenue and expected revenue, and explaining the demand it’s seeking to meet
  • It will demonstrate you’ve carefully established how the project will be initiated, how it will be put into practice, and how it will operate and be maintained
  • It should be objective, presenting alternative options for the brief you’re seeking to fulfil and explaining why your proposal would be the best choice 

As a document, the business case must be succinct and clearly laid out. Many local authorities follow the business case guidance advice set out by the central government, which offers a universally recognised template that can be adapted for any project.

Universally recognised business case guidance

To begin with, it’s advisable to write an executive summary, which will give a broad outline of your proposal, its cost implications, and when a decision is likely to be made on its implementation. The summary should give a reader with little knowledge of the matter a decent understanding of what’s being proposed and what’s at stake.

  1. There should follow an explanation of the strategic benefits of your proposal with full evidential support. This will detail the nature of your proposal and place it within the context of existing leisure services, for example, indicating how it would make a difference and what demand it would meet. Councillors will want to see evidence that project fits in with the authority’s general business and strategic plans. This can be done through reference to the authority’s key performance indicators, such as improving fitness levels or reducing obesity among residents.
  2. The economic impacts of the plan are typically considered among the most important. Separate from the cost of getting the project up and running, the economic study will explain the expected benefits of your project on the local economy and will present the critical factors that need to be met to ensure success. That may mean, for instance, the number of customers required on a daily basis to make a proposed new fitness centre pay for itself. These can be presented by showing the proposal’s anticipated performance against established targets and at the same time set targets against which its success can be measured.
  3. Councillors will want convincing that you have thought out how you will achieve your project commercially. The bigger the plan is, the more detailed your business case will be. Officials will want to see an explanation of procurement plans and they’ll want to know what contractual relationships the authority will be tied into.
  4. Lastly, the authority will want to know that the project can be delivered. That will require the listing of robust management arrangements to see the project from initiation to operation, with a comprehensive change management provision for when the project is in operation. This will also include contingency planning for unforeseen risks, proposals for progress monitoring, and post-implementation assessments.

Using your business case to drive action 

In many ways, business cases give you the opportunity to show the best of yourself and your business idea. Think of it as your project’s LinkedIn front page. It’s worth taking time and effort in pulling it together — your business case could be the difference between your proposal seeing fruition or sitting on a planning department shelf for another year. 

If you’re making a business case for any of our leisure software and you’d like some support, we’re happy to help. Contact Gladstone to discuss your business case requirements. 

Resources - Gladstone partners with Bramble Hub to help make procurement easier for government purchasing.

You May Also Like

These Stories on Futures

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think