How to create the perfect business case in Retail

Let’s set the scene. You’ve made the decision to initiate a project/change in your retail organisation to stay competitive, but you’re unclear on the investment required, the time it may take or what needs to be included in scope to reach the benefits you’re trying to achieve. You know there may be multiple hoops you need to jump through before being able to start the project – enter your business case!

The association of project management defines a business case as a document that…

provides justification for undertaking a project, programme or portfolio. It evaluates the benefit, cost and risk of alternative options and provides a rationale for the preferred solution.’(1)

Whether it’s improving your customer experience to help retain precious customers or fixing operational, supply chain and distribution processes by implementing a new ERP or realising that your organisational structure is not fit for purpose and needs to be redesigned, you will need a business case. So how can we create the perfect business case?

Before you start, make sure you have considered who needs to be involved in writing it and who needs to sign it off. Be clear in your mind about why you need to initiate this change and keep it as brief as possible covering only essential information.

We have provided a simple acronym to ensure you are hitting all of the right elements needed in the perfect business case…

Let’s set you up for SUCCESS!

Summary and Introduction – provide an executive summary that includes your recommendation and how to move forward (this section should be written last). Remember some decision makers will only read this so make it count. Introduce the business case briefly here that sets out what it’s all about.

Urgency and problem statement – this should be a brief paragraph stating the problem we’re trying to solve alongside some retail industry analysis of why it’s important to address the problem, the benefit of changing and our vision for the future. You should include data around the problem, be it reduction in customer loyalty or spend, any competitor threats or operational challenges (Tip: include who may have helped you so far in the analysis of this problem).

Choices or Options – you shood identify all possible options to move forward including if you were to do nothing, laying out the pros and cons of each. Each option should be as realistic as possible and supported by facts and data.

Considerations of options – within each option it is vital that you include the scope (and any technical solutions), benefits/return on investment, costs/resource required, realistic timeline for the project, risks. Tip: try to make this section as visual as possible to help with decision making and comparisons across options.

Endorse and recommend – you should make a recommendation on which choice or option is the best having weighed up the cost and benefits. This section could include a list of immediate next steps to hit the ground running.

Strategic alignment – check that you have linked the goals of the organisation and refer to them in your executive summary.

Simple, jargon free and brief – lastly once you are content that you have followed every other step of our ‘success’ criteria ensure that the language you’ve used is simple, jargon free and you haven’t written too much so it can be digested easily.

At Nine Feet Tall we specialise in combining the power of people, process and technology to help you scope any change that your organisation is facing. If you need any independent advice to provide an objective view in writing your business case, we’d be happy to chat through your goals and challenges. Get in touch today.

(1) APM body of knowledge 7th Edition (

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