If you have ever wondered how to build a compelling business case, you are now just nine steps away from building one! Using Business Model Canvas for business case modeling gives you a great way to build concise, interesting and visual case for your next adventure.
BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE
How to Build a Compelling Business Case
By using Business Model Canvas
Have you ever been in a situation where you have wanted to create something which requires funding from
someone else? Maybe funding for a new development program or trying to sell an idea to a potential customer?
We need to build a case to prove our point, to lay out the benefits and perceived value and compare those benefits
against the costs. In short, we need to learn how to build a compelling business case.
I have used a fantastic tool the Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur and converted
it to reflect a typical business case requirements. It works because it has all the elements a great business case
requires and it will help you concisely design your plan into a one page canvas.
I will walk you through the elements of traditional Business Model Canvas from a business case perspective. The
outcome you should be able to document either by using this power point as a template or on a one page canvas,
which also works as your executive summary.
B U I L D I N G A B U S I N E S S C A S E
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD ONE?
When you are starting a new project, you need to understand the proposed
business change, the benefits and how to communicate those to the business.
The purpose of the business case is communication so make it as clear as
possible, keep it interesting and minimize jargon (pay special attention to three
You have a chance to describe your vision of the future and demonstrate the
value and benefits your project brings to the business.
Good business case should only contain enough information to help executive
management's decision making. It is not a full blown project plan but it needs to
have enough details so the decision can be made, should the project go forward.
B U I L D I N G A B U S I N E S S C A S E
Customer needs should always be your starting point.
Start with a strong understanding of your customer
needs and build the rest of your case around that.
Start by asking for whom are we trying to create
value? We may have multiple customer segments
with very different needs and wants.
As an organisation, you need to be able to make the
decision of which segments you will serve and which
will be ignored (for now).
Customer here should be understood as a broad
concept including also potential internal customers
within your organization.
S T A R T W H E R E I T M A T T E R S
B U I L D I N G A C O M P E L L I N G
What value are we delivering for the customer? What are the needs and ´jobs to be
done` that our project will help solve?
For each and every case there should be a customer-specific value proposition.
Build customer centricity by addressing any external drivers, business objectives
and internal challenges specific to this case, for this customer.
Be clear on the benefits your solution provides and instead of features, focus on the
outcomes your solution provides. Clearly connect your value to your customer's
challenges and objectives.
Start building compelling value propositions by using the value proposition model
on the next page.
Determine the primary business reasons for your
solution. These include usually words such as
operating costs, turnaround time, customer
retention, profit margins, market share, time to
market, lifetime customer value, employee
Great value proposition always conveys
movement. You will recognize it in these verbs:
increase, cut, improve, strenghten, enhance,
eliminate, minimize, accelerate, reduce, save,
maximize to name a few.
Adding metrics makes the value proposition
stronger. Use specifics such as time frame,
monetary value, percentages to become more
V A L U E P R O P O S I T I O N M O D E L
For your business case it is important to identify
and describe all the key stakeholders whether
internal (Finance, IT, HR, Marketing, Sales) or
external such as partners and suppliers.
Identifying internal stakeholders is vital as you
need to be able to point out impact on any
current operations with your pursued changes
but also to be able to determine wether you
have the organizational capability to deliver the
I D E N T I F Y I N G
D E F I N I N G Y O U R
What are the key activities required for you to deliver your value proposition?
For example if your are building a new software enabled service, this would
include building a platform, software development, building maintenance and
support organization, training or re-skilling existing employees, potentially hire
new expertise, designing go-to-market plans, communications just to name a few.
For business case purposes this is also where more detailed descriptions of the
project are needed in form of a project plan or project definition. The scope and
extent of that plan depends on the scope of the pursued investment.
P R O J E C T D E F I N I T I O N
What is your goal?
What is needed to overcome the problem?
How will the project support the business
This section describes the financial and non-
financial benefits in turn. The purpose is to
explain WHY you need the project.
Identifies potential solutions to the problem
and describes them in enough detail for the
reader to understand (may contain 3-5
Describes the work needed to deliver the
business objective and identifies those
business functions affected by the project.
Describes what is included and what is
excluded from the project.
Outlining the plan with major deliverables.OUTLINE PLAN
Thorough assessment of the business
context and the marketplace where
The risk assessment summarises the
significant risks and opportunities and
how those are managed.
Project approach describes the HOW
part. The way the project is done
(inhouse / outsourced).
Includes decisions on buying, leasing
or outsourcing before purchasing and
describes the purchasing process.
Project organization describes roles
and responsibilities in the project, how
desisions will be made (governance)
and how progress is reported.
For the business case you need to identify the key
resources that are needed for you to deliver your
These resources include any physical assets or
intellectual property, human resources and financial
It’s good to note that your value proposition will most
likely require resources also after the initial delivery.
Depending on the type of investment needed, there
might be additional resource needs for maintaining
relationships with customer segments through
L I S T I N G ' E M A L L
F I R S T T H I N G S F I R S T
Going back and thinking about the customer segments we are targeting with the business case, it is
also great to point out what is our stance towards these different segments. If for example, some
customers are to be retained and others to be acquired, the approach is likely very different and you
should be able to highlight key differences.
When building customer interfacing services, there will become questions of how personalized your
service will be ranging from highly personalized to fully automated service. For each segment the
decision should be considered very carefully.
Noting that this is not your standard business case template stuff, it still holds great value if you can
already in your investment proposal point out the major differences between different customer
segments as it has direct relation to customer risks.
Channels are vital as they describe how the
organization communicates with and reaches its
It becomes even more important if you have
multiple channels, both direct and indirect
where to serve your customers.
Channels are the basis for customer journey
mapping, every customer touch point from
raising awareness through evaluation phase to
purchase and delivery, all the way to after sales
support need to be considered individually.
Great question to ask for example is that how
are our channels integrated with our customer's
P I C K A N D C H O O S E Y O U R
Identifying and calculating all costs associated with the project belongs here.
Costs may vary from one-time costs to recurring costs, be fixed or variable in nature. Some
costs go down as the output expands (economies of scale), others you can minimize by taking
advantage of already existing operations (economies of scope) instead of having the need to
establish everything from scratch.
Costs section is usully the section under the most scrutiny. Numbers per se are not the point,
nor fancy calculations the key is to be able to show your reasoning and how you have reached
Costs are by default always compared against the forecasted benefits but also against potential
risks associated with the project. Traditional business model canvas doesn’t include risks but for
business case building you need to be able to draw out alternative outcomes for the investment
M A K I N G S U R E Y O U U N D E R S T A N D Y O U R
W E L L H E L L O , F I N A L L Y !
For what is it that our customers are willing to pay us for? Where does the revenue come from?
What are the pricing models in play?
What other business benefits besides increased revenue is there to be considered?
If you are for example aiming at reducing working capital, how much will that save you in recurring
costs and within what time frame?
Are we improving quality or customer service and how is that likely to affect the top line growth?
Is the business case aligned with company strategy and if so how?
For each cost element you are requesting for, you should be able to point out the equivalent gain or
business benefit. It is easy to overlook some of the business benefits which are typically considered
as soft values (increased brand recognition, stonger employer brand) but those should definitely be
included into your business case.
DOWNLOAD THE CANVAS
And some other really cool design stuff from strategyzer.com
A D D I T I O N A L R E S O U R C E S
THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS
HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS CASE
Learn how to use the canvas By reading the book "Business Model Generation"
By Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
To get started check out for example this site:
Pros can take a look at this one: