5 mistakes every Business Analyst should avoid when writing a business case
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
This is the third blog I will be writing on the business case because it is usually one of the most overlooked tasks of a business analyst. If you haven’t read any of the previous blogs, you can go back and read them. The first blog is titled 7 tips for writing a compelling business case, where I focused on what it takes to write a compelling business case that will make your project sponsor say “yes”. The second blog is titled The Business Analyst's guide to writing a business case, where I focused on what’s is included in a business case and how a business case should be structured.
As a Business Analyst, if you want to be seen as a true business partner or a senior or lead business analyst, writing a business case is one of the tasks you will be expected to perform. That is why I have dedicated 3 blogs to cover this task. Without being a scaremonger, it is essential to understand that many times, the “go” or “no-go” for any project will be based on the recommendations in the business case. However, the final output of the business case will be compiled by the lead business analyst, they will also have to interact with other key stakeholders; for example, the financial analyst would be consulted for details of critical financial information that would go into the investment appraisal.
In this blog, I will be focusing on the mistakes to avoid as a business analyst, particularly
when you have been saddled with the responsibility of putting together a business case for a project. By avoiding these five serious mistakes, the Business Analysts has a better chance of presenting a project and investment-worthy business case, that Project Sponsors will be happy to approve.
Here are the top 5 mistakes a business analyst must avoid when writing a winning business case:
1. Being unclear and ambiguous with information:
It is important not to get carried away by focusing on semantics and forgetting about the details in the business case that will facilitate accurate decision making. Some common mistakes that can be made by business analysts include being unclear with numbers, deadlines, risks and specific solutions. Accuracy might not be achieved at the point of writing a business case, however, having the right level of information would make it easier for the stakeholders and sponsors to understand the strategy and proposed solution.
2. Abdicating the job to the finance team:
As a business analyst, you need to remember that the underlying reason for compiling a business case is not solely for financial purposes alone. Although you will require some financial information to make the business case complete, finance mainly serves as a metric to understand the other elements that make up the business case. The principal aim of the business case is to identify a different course of action and the consequences of making a specific decision. This is why one of the options presented in a business case always refers back to doing nothing and continuing with the status quo.
3. Poor writing skills:
Due to the level of complexity associated with a business case, it is always a good idea to write in clear and simple terms, having little or no typos and unstructured sentences. This way, the audience can focus on the main idea behind the business case, instead of being distracted by unclear statements and typos. Best practise is to share your business case with a colleague to proofread and spot errors or typos, it also shows that you apply professionalism to your work.
4. Poor Presentation:
A great business case is like a marketing resource; as a Business Analyst, you still have to present the idea to the stakeholder, who will make the final decision. Your ability to convince and sell the solution the stakeholder is what makes the difference between getting a yes or a no. You should spend enough time preparing for the presentation by practising your stance, your tone of voice, your understanding of the contents, your ability to present the complex in a calm and straightforward manner because this is what will get you to the finish line.
5. Not considering risks:
Every undertaking has some element of risks attached to it. This is also the case with organisations that are looking to implement a transformational change or embark on a project, regardless of its size. Without giving an adequate consideration for risks and the impact of the risks, the organisation becomes unprepared for the unimagined. By highlighting potential risks to a project or a change, the organisation can put in plans to mitigate the risks, avoid the risk or transfer the risk.
To learn all about the tips and tricks on how to write compelling business cases that will get your stakeholders to say “yes” all the time, I have created an online course titled “The Business Analyst’s Playbook”. The course aims to help you hit the ground running on any project as a business analyst, with a proven process that hundreds of my students and I have used to successfully deliver multi-million pounds projects in some of the top organisations in the UK.