With all technology, machinery and equipment, there is a need to upgrade either because of new advancements or wear and tear resulting from continued usage. The same is true for water systems. Communicating with non-technical leadership usually requires presenting a business case to help them get buy-in for the investment. When such a need arises, we are asked to provide our clients, often Project Engineers, with information that will help them present a compelling case. A well-written business case ensures proper project planning and is instrumental in involving management and getting their complete support.
We decided to pool our learnings from the last thirteen years to develop a list of guidelines to help you build a business case for upgrades and modifications or even a greenfield opportunity. We hope this list enables you to procure the necessary buy-in from management on your next water treatment project.
If your organisation has a standard template for presenting a business case, you can use it, or you can download one from the internet. While there are variations in terminology across templates, the principles remain relatively consistent. It will simplify matters if you use one your audience is familiar with.
Preparing your business case involves an assessment of:
The business problem or opportunity
Do not assume that your company leadership has the same depth of information about the problem you are facing or the opportunity you would like to address. Help them understand by clearly articulating the situation or opportunity that has led you to develop this business case.
Outline what you hope to achieve with this project. Outline what the organisation stands to lose if this project does not go ahead. When your management is clear about outcomes, they will be better placed to understand the pressing need for your project.
Whether you are looking to fix a current problem or you see an opportunity that saves time or money or brings in better returns, clearly outline the benefits of greenlighting the project. Think of all the ways your project will deliver value and list them out. Be clear and think of it from financial and non-financial perspectives.
Every project comes with some risk. Stating potential hazards in your project clearly will give your management the confidence that you have thought through the benefits and potential problems. It is likely they will be inclined to greenlight despite the risk because you have considered all angles and are prepared for them.
It is necessary to illustrate the financial impact of this project on the company budget. Also factor in contingency costs. If required take the help of your finance team to build a realistic picture.
Prepare a short list of the possible contractors or vendors from whom you plan to request proposals. It will greatly help your business case if you include actual quotes.
Build in a timeline of the project from greenlight to handover. Include an estimate of potential delays and what options are available to you in case these delays take place. Be clear about back up plans.
Impact on operations
Any project has an impact on current operations. Be sure to make a list of how this project has the potential to affect existing operations and how you will mitigate these.
Every project requires a critical resource for success, i.e. people. List out the names of all your colleagues whose direct and indirect involvement you will need to make this project a success. Also, include the chain of command and an escalation protocol for approvals/decisions if something goes wrong.
That’s it: our list of essentials to include in your business case for your next project. Do remember to format and present your document professionally. If possible ask a colleague to proofread it for you. Check with them if they understand what you are asking for and if you have made a compelling argument before you present it to your management.
Building a business case for a water treatment system shouldn’t be stressful. After all, you have all the answers. You are after all an expert. It is simply a matter of articulating your knowledge so you can get a buy-in from the people who decide on financial investments.
TSA water system would be happy to help you build a business case for your next water system project. If you need our help, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be happy to help you.