The Business Case in Library Land. #47: 2012
I’ve had lots of emails this past week about building a business case. A business case is a formal planning tool used for project development and evaluation. It usually is developed by stakeholders or management as part of the decision-making process. Business cases are used by municipalities, planners, and now libraries to justify the resources and financial investment necessary to roll out a new project or service. It is the planning document where all relevant facts are linked together into a cohesive evaluation and action plan.
A business case is defined as:
► the strategic reasons and quantifiable benefits for initiating a project or service.
► capturing both the quantifiable and unquantifiable characteristics of a project.
► putting business applications into project management and evaluation.
Developing a business case includes:
● Background research: including project scope, context, benefits, outcomes, options considered, and strategic business reasons for implementing or rejecting each option.
● Benchmarking: comparing the project/service with other similar services and assessing best practices.
● Gap Analysis: identifying the variance between current organizational capabilities and optimal performance.
● Risk Analysis: indentifying and assessing factors that may jeopardize the success of a project or service.
● Financial justification: including estimating funds, ROI, and staffing needs for a real-time total costing of the project.
● Action Plan: including time lines.
How are libraries using business cases?
► To evaluate department performance. At GPL, we do one department service review/ business case annually; they are outlined in our Strategic Plan.
► To evaluate and propose new library services. (e.g. Do we want to lend eReaders?)
► To plan new facilities and renovation projects.
Learning how to develop and present a compelling business case is a management skill library land needs to embrace and love!
Kitty Pope #48 January 2012