Before you start gathering content for your proposal, it pays to figure out the answers to these five questions:

Question 1: Who will approve your proposal?

Many organisations have clear guidelines about the management level that has the delegation to sign off proposals: while the answer may vary according to the project scope, budget and impact, it pays to know the process before you begin.

Question 2: What’s the best timing?

It’s smart strategy to complete your business case proposal in time to feed into budget discussions or to meet any deadlines for external funding.

Question 3: Are there established templates you need to follow?

While some companies will consider a business case in any format, others have established templates which must be followed. Make sure the format you choose meets any internal or external criteria, or it may get unnecessarily delayed.

Question 4: How accurate do your figures need to be?

Generally, projects that involve large capital investments will require a high level of accuracy (typically ±10 per cent). Smaller projects with access to operational funds or which involve process changes (rather than policy changes) may require a lower level of accuracy (±30 per cent or more).

Question 5: Who can you call on for advice?

If you are relatively new to an organisation you might need advice identifying the key people to involve. It can also be useful to chat with people in your organisation who have been successful in obtaining funds or lobbying for policy change.