Difference between Business
Case and Project Proposal?
It’s the same. Sometimes referred to as
a ‘business case’, the project proposal states the highest level goals in a
It outlines the overall business goals and vision for the project as
decided by the customer or client. It is sometimes drawn up well before the
project starts although you may (if you are lucky) also get a hand in its
The proposal should contain the vision
for the project and the business goals, what your client hopes to achieve at a
business level. There may also be a large amount of supporting information in
order to qualify or corroborate the stated goals but the goal itself should be
The supporting information might include preliminary forms of the project
planning documents, such as budgets, schedules and so forth.
Project proposals are often vital
documents because they are what is signed off when a commercial deal is agreed.
You need to consider these carefully as
they define what you are legally committed to delivering.
The following example is based on our
hypothetical sales and marketing system. The vision is stated first and after
that a list of specific business and technical goals is listed. Each of the
specific goals contributes directly to the vision of delivering the sales and
Whizz-Bang Customer Relationship
The project should deliver the best
Customer, Sales and Marketing system on the market:
• Reduce time taken to process sales
orders by 50% (of manual process times)
• Provide detailed management reports on
a quarterly basis
• Provide detailed market and customer
analysis at request
• Link sales directly to marketing
initiatives to measure marketing ROI
• Provide detailed client and prospect
information to account managers
• Completely automate license renewals
via a website
• Provide a zero-footprint client,
accessible via the Internet
• Provide an upgrade path for users of
other sales order systems
You will note that this is not long or
overly detailed. It provides an adequate framework for moving the project
forward without getting bogged down in detail.
The goals outlined will probably be
supported by a fair amount of commercial and market research but within the
context of the project, the above should be more than adequate. The level of
detail will depend on the size and importance of your project to the
You should also note that some goals are
more specific than others. For example “reduce time taken to process sales
orders by 50%” is a fairly specific, readily testable goal.
On the other hand “provide detailed
management reports on a quarterly basis” is a little bit vague. What kind of
reports? What format? For whom?
Although more detail is desirable it is
probably not necessary at this stage. The broad goals have been laid out and it
will be the purpose of subsequent phases (like requirements specification) to
define how they will be achieved.
Spend enough time on your proposal to
make sure it is accurate and succinct. It will be the yardstick against which
senior management will judge the success of your project. Don’t spend so much
time on it that you delay the commencement of the project proper.
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