This section provides a brief summary on planning your business case proposal for an energy efficiency project. Further information is available on the site for developing the business case, writing the business case and influencing company culture, systems and processes.

Planning the development of your business case proposal

Depending upon the scope and complexity of your project, putting together a business case can be a challenging process. Good planning is essential. When planning your proposal, you should be asking yourself the following questions:

Who will be responsible for approving your proposal?

Most organisations have clear guidelines about the management level that has the delegation to sign off proposals, depending upon the size and complexity of the project. Very large projects may involve a dedicated project team to evaluate project options and develop a business case proposal. At the other end of the spectrum some smaller projects, particularly those that do not require funding, may be approved more informally at supervisor level.

When do you need to have the proposal completed?

You may need to complete your business case proposal in time to feed into budget discussions or to meet a deadline for external funding.

A good rule of thumb is to assume that it will take longer than expected to complete the proposal. Allow for sufficient time and if you realise that you cannot complete the proposal by the required deadline then negotiate a new delivery date or consider alternative funding opportunities.

Are there established guidelines or templates that you will need to follow?

To apply for internal or external funding there may be established protocols that must be followed and the proposal may need to be presented within a particular template.

What level of accuracy is required for your financial costings?

The level of accuracy will have a strong influence on the time and resources required to complete your proposal. If the engineering and costing work has already been done then your plan may be relatively straightforward. If however there is further analysis required then you may need to take more time and ensure that you have sufficient funds to complete your proposal. Generally projects that involve large capital investments will require a high level of accuracy (like ±10%). Smaller project including those that may be able to access operational funds or involve process changes may require a lower level of accuracy (like ±30% or more).

Are there people with experience and expertise that you can call on for advice as you develop your business case proposal?

Depending upon your experience in developing funding proposals, you may want to draw on other expertise to help you. If you are relatively new to an organisation then you might need someone to help you identify the key people to involve, to share their experiences and provide advice on what has and has not worked. It can also be useful to find out who else within your organisation has been successful in obtaining funds. Have a chat with them – you may learn some important “in-house” tips that can save you time and effort and improve the quality of your proposal.

How much time and resources are available to help you develop your business case proposal?

The time and resources required to develop a proposal can vary depending on the type of project. You may also find that as you work through the process you come up against particular challenges that were not anticipated. If you have not been allocated sufficient time and resources to complete the proposal adequately, you will need to discuss alternatives with your manager. Raise any issues as early as possible. This may provide you with more options, such as accessing additional personnel or external expertise if required.