The next step is to determine your focus. You need clarity on what you want to cover and who you need to influence. This will help to determine exactly what you need to consider.

This may seem obvious, but often it is only when you sit down and consider your project in detail that you discover exactly what factors you need to include, and the arguments you need to make in the business case. This first stage of planning is often overlooked.

The key questions to ask include:

  1. What are the parameters of this business case in terms of time and responsibility? Are there other projects that overlap with your project that you may need to factor in?
  2. What difference do you want to make through your engagement? How will you measure success? Is it increased trust, efficiency or improved service outcomes? Make sure you express this in as direct and clear language as you can. Also make sure that the measurement you use captures what you actually want to achieve.
  3. Do you need to cover the whole project? In some cases it is more realistic and useful to work out the costs and benefits of particular aspects of your project, for example a single event or a work strand which focuses on a particular group.
  4. How will you know if your benefits are linked to engagement and wouldn’t have happened anyway? Are there comparators that you can use? For example are there any similar areas where engagement hasn’t happened and can you compare the benefits there with your situation? See Stage 6 Present the business case for more information on comparators.

It is important to consider the target audience of your business case. Is it your Chief Executive, other senior decision makers, people outside your organisation or someone else? Think about what they will be looking for and what might persuade them.

When building the business case decisions need to be made about what to include and what to exclude. You may not be able to build a perfect model because some data elements may not be available. However, you can still create a convincing and well-evidenced case to demonstrate the value of engagement. A key decision is what perspective to take. Is the case for a particular service, the public sector as a whole, the local community or the UK as a whole?