Are you a Project Engineer – or similar – with a water treatment system challenge? Does the solution require a significant investment by your company, or buy-in from the right people? If so it’s time to write a business case.
To have the greatest chance of influencing decision-makers, you should follow certain commonly-accepted guidelines. Here’s how to create a bullet-proof business case for your water treatment system.
First, find out if your organisation has a standard template. While the principles of the business case remain universally consistent, there are variations in the terminology used and order of items. Clear the first hurdle by working to a format that your readers are already used to and can readily engage with. Whatever your template looks like, it is likely to contain the following sections in some form:
- Background information
Don’t launch immediately into the exciting part – your proposed idea or solution – and don’t assume your reader has knowledge of the situation you are addressing. Help them by setting the scene. Provide context with an introduction, framing the perceived problem or opportunity that has led to you developing this document.
- Your objectives
Let your reader know what you aim to achieve. Be clear and be brief. State your goal and outline what is currently preventing your organisation from being able to reach that goal. When you have ‘sold’ your destination to the reader, they will be better placed to understand the journey.
- The merits of the proposed project
Maybe you’ll be helping to save significant costs or time, or both. Benefits don’t simply need to be financially driven however - you might also see a way of standing out above competitors, improving service quality, or helping to achieve your company’s mission. Think about how else your solution can add value.
- An outline of all possible solutions
While you personally may have settled on a preferred solution to a perceived challenge, you should outline all possible solutions to show you have considered them. These may be compared with the alternative option of ‘doing nothing’. This section will establish through clear analysis and appraisal why you are making your particular recommendation.
- The risks
All projects contain some degree of risk, whether financial, or reputational. Never avoid acknowledging these. You will command more respect from your reader if you can demonstrate that you recognise potential risks and have thought them through. Even with risk, a project may be approved if persuasive enough.
- The necessary resources
There’s one essential resource inherent in every project: people. Consider who will be involved from within and outside your company, including what roles and responsibilities they will take on. This will all represent overhead costs, resource time and planning. Also, consider how decisions will be made? How will you report on developments and to whom?
- The financial implications
This is vital. You can’t afford to drop the ball. You must be clear about any financial impacts of this project. Consult financial experts in your company to ensure you’ve considered every angle. Nobody likes surprise costs. Also make sure to factor in contingency costs.
- An executive summary
This should preface the entire business case, however it’s also the section you should wait until last to write. Summarise the whole business case and keep it clear and concise. Secure your reader’s attention and interest. First impressions really do count.
- Perfect presentation
If you can’t make a business case look professional, why should your proposal be trusted? Ask another person to give it a second pair of eyes. Also, you might be submitting this business case to senior staff who may not have the technical knowledge that you do, in which case you need to ensure it doesn’t contain jargon but instead, easy to understand terminology and explanations where needed. Once you’re happy that it’s polished, it’s ready to submit.
Finally, you will need to include how you intend to measure the success of your proposed project. This could be through detailed measurement and statistics as well as qualitative feedback from team members and leaders. Make sure you measure your success against your initial objectives, you should ensure that you have achieved what you set out to do in the first place.
Building a business case for a water treatment system shouldn’t be intimidating. It’s simply your ideas and expertise put into writing. However, it is important to ensure that all the standard elements are included. By skipping any of the above sections, you risk an immediate rejection.
If you would like more advice on creating a business case for a water treatment system please contact our team and we will be happy to advise you further.
About the Author
Mike has worked in the Construction Industry for nearly 35 years, joining Veolia Water Technologies 25 years ago. He has held a number of senior commercial and operational positions for VWT over the years and has been Business Development Director since 2005. Mike has also been a Non Executive Director of British Water and past Chair of the UK Forum helping to represent the interests of British Water members and contribute on key industry issues.