The business case for your next digital project

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

by Aerin Bowers


Have you ever been asked to build a business case in order to move a project forward in your organization? Did the mere thought of it cause anxiety and confusion? Aren’t business cases just … for business?

I was fortunate to attend several sessions at the recent DAM and Museums conference, one of which focused on the emergence of the business case and its growing importance in all aspects of evidence-based and transparent organizational decision making. The panel covered a lot of ground, and it was really interesting to dig into the business side of the GLAM sector.

It is abundantly apparent that securing funding and access to grants has become incredibly competitive. The pandemic has negatively impacted the traditional revenue streams for this sector and forced institutions to pivot, embrace blue sky thinking, and explore new ideas.

Moving collections and projects online has become essential, and the need to create engaging and informative online experiences through platforms such as Quartex has necessitated conversations about budgets, funding, and of course, ROI (Return on Investment.) And here is where a solid business case becomes a competitive advantage.


Align your strategic vision with value

In my experience, building a business case for a new project, initiative, or technology is one of the best things you can do to align the strategic vision of your organization, be it a museum, library, or gallery, with a definition or expression of value.

ROI can be expressed or quantified/qualified through many different metrics, and a good business case that identifies these parameters is the place to start. The intended benefits of your project may or not be tangible, but a well thought out business case defines value and presents costs and benefits, while allowing a creative vision to shine through.

Your stakeholders, external and internal, will also benefit from having access to a strong business case. A business case can serve as a communications piece, as well as a tool to guide decision makers into making the right decisions, within the right parameters. Looking for buy in? Start with a business case, and you may find that it makes a big impact on your internal negotiations.


What are the elements of an effective business case?

  1. Your current position – describe your current successes and challenges
  2. The concept – detailed description of your proposed venture
  3. What you aim to achieve – explain the goals and identify the challenges it solves
  4. Your target market – who is the intended audience of your venture, and what do you know about them?
  5. Market outreach – once you’ve identified the people above, how will you engage/inspire/educate/serve them?
  6. Who does what – explain the roles and their responsibilities, and how they will be accountable to the project
  7. Costs and earnings – what is your budget, projected expenses, and potential return?
  8. Measuring success – how will you know you’ve got it right, and how will you measure success? Metrics can vary but may include revenue generated, physical traffic, online traffic, stakeholder interviews, impact statements, etc.
  9. Timeline – how and when you’ll get the agreed venture up and running
  10. Your statement of recommended action


Clarify your objectives and proposed outcomes

There are lots of business case templates available online, and most follow the format above. That’s not to say that you can’t get creative. A proposed venture might not come with a great deal of revenue, but it might further a non-financial objective such as community engagement or education. In the GLAM sector, qualitative objectives can often hold as much importance as revenue generation.

One last important consideration in developing your business case is that of resources, and whether the project creates efficiencies (such as selecting a digital asset management (DAM) system to replace multiple other services), or puts a strain on existing resources, human or financial.

A thorough business case development exercise can help to refine your organizational goals through a realistic and creative lens.



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