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Developing a business case

A sound project proposal is essential for obtaining funding and support, read Phil Padfield’s article on the key features of a business case.
People carrying the workings of a clock towards an idea
In Step 2.5 we noted that in order to secure funding you will need to provide a business case. In this step we will explore the key features of a business case and provide guidance to support you in the development of a case for your proposal. Your innovation proposal requires a business case, because your organisation, funders etc need to ensure that the innovation is well planned and financially viable, and will bring benefits to the patient. You need to demonstrate that risks have been assessed and impacts considered. Your request for support for an innovation is more likely to be successful if you can present a compelling case, showing why the innovation is necessary.
Depending upon your innovation, the length and depth of the business case will vary. However, the central factors will be the same.
Galloway, 2004,[1] suggests six steps to developing a successful business case:
  1. Set your case within the framework of national and local priorities- where are we now and where do we want to be? Undertake a SWOT analysis- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  2. Define the aims and objectives- use SMART objectives, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and within a Timeframe.
  3. Develop an option appraisal- ‘do nothing’ is always one option, with two or three other options, including an appraisal of how these alternative options could impact the service.
  4. Assess each option for potential benefits and costs; you will need to pilot your innovation before you can assess actual benefits. Total net costs should be estimated, but to be estimated as accurately as possible. Over inflation of costs is likely to result in rejection of your business case, underestimates could result in a shortfall of funding to allow you to successfully trial/implement your innovation. This is in turn impacts your own credibility for future innovations.
  5. Identify the preferred option- if your innovation is credible, this outcome should be identifying your innovation as the preferred option.
  6. Present the business case as a written report. The report should be a succinct summary, conveying the bare essentials. These included a short introduction, aim, option appraisal, proposal, assessment of likely impact, risk analysis (what could go wrong and what are you putting in place to mitigate against this) and conclusion/recommendation. Make your business case interesting and clear. It is essential that you are able to demonstrate the benefits of your proposal.
There are many resources available to help guide you in writing a successful business case, some of these are listed in the references below. The National Innovation Centre of the NHS in the UK developed a business case template. This can be found as a downloadable document at the end of this article.


  1. Galloway MJ, 2004,
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