The purpose of building a strong business case as the basis for initiating any kind of partnership is to ensure top management buy-in and formalise the objective and partnership design between the partner organisations. Equally, the business case helps create clarity and transparency on the individual value proposition for each of the involved partners. The business case may serve the following purposes:
- Secure top management buy-in for the partnership and project.
- Describe the value creation for all partners involved.
- Create clarity and transparency of the drivers and reasons for initiating the partnership.
- Safeguard alignment between partners on the objectives of the partnership.
- Present budget, estimated return on investment and resources required.
Your business case is the result of the preceding scoping process that should result in a first draft for the partnership business case. The business case, like the partnership process itself, is dynamic, and should be updated on a regular basis. The business case should as a minimum describe the following key elements:
1. Value creation
- What is the purpose of the partnership, e.g. increasing the top line/bottom line, business development, reputation, expertise, relationships, market/technology access, funding etc.?
- What is the need/challenge/opportunity that makes this partnership worthwhile?
- Who are the key stakeholders/beneficiaries?
- What is the strategic, organisational, and resource fit between the partnering organisations?
- What is the shared and individual value creation for each of the partner organisations?
2. Project design
- What is the concept and what are the solutions proposed by the partnership and project?
- What are the project objectives and targets (output, outcome, impact)?
- What is the funding model? What do you expect in terms of invested output, outcome and impact?
- What is the investment forecast?
- What is the timeframe for the partnership and project?
- What are the key risks that might get in the way of achieving the objectives?
- How is involvement of the target group/beneficiaries ensured?
- How is strong alignment between all partner organisations ensured on a continuous basis?
- How can the partnership and project be scaled up?
- How do you ensure a responsible handover/continuity after the project ends?
- How will learnings from the partnership contribute to organisational learning?
The joint objectives for the project should be complemented by clear project Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be used to track progress and results of the joint project. These should be documented in the business case and outlined in detail in your Project Monitoring and Evaluation framework, which should serve as your working document for monitoring and measuring progress and impact.