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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)
Table of Contents
What is a business case, how to write a business case, business case template, watch our business case training video, key elements of a business case, how projectmanager helps with your business case.
A business case is a project management document that explains how the benefits of a project overweigh its costs and why it should be executed. Business cases are prepared during the project initiation phase and their purpose is to include all the project’s objectives, costs and benefits to convince stakeholders of its value.
A business case is an important project document to prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the project proposal you’re pitching is a sound investment. Below, we illustrate the steps to writing one that will sway them.
The need for a business case is that it collects the financial appraisal, proposal, strategy and marketing plan in one document and offers a full look at how the project will benefit the organization. Once your business case is approved by the project stakeholders, you can begin the project planning phase.
Projects fail without having a solid business case to rest on, as this project document is the base for the project charter and project plan. But if a project business case is not anchored to reality, and doesn’t address a need that aligns with the larger business objectives of the organization, then it is irrelevant.
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Use this free Business Case Template for Word to manage your projects better.
The research you’ll need to create a strong business case is the why, what, how and who of your project. This must be clearly communicated. The elements of your business case will address the why but in greater detail. Think of the business case as a document that is created during the project initiation phase but will be used as a reference throughout the project life cycle.
Whether you’re starting a new project or mid-way through one, take time to write up a business case to justify the project expenditure by identifying the business benefits your project will deliver and that your stakeholders are most interested in reaping from the work. The following four steps will show you how to write a business case.
Step 1: Identify the Business Problem
Projects aren’t created for projects’ sake. They should always be aligned with business goals . Usually, they’re initiated to solve a specific business problem or create a business opportunity.
You should “Lead with the need.” Your first job is to figure out what that problem or opportunity is, describe it, find out where it comes from and then address the time frame needed to deal with it.
This can be a simple statement but is best articulated with some research into the economic climate and the competitive landscape to justify the timing of the project.
Step 2: Identify the Alternative Solutions
How do you know whether the project you’re undertaking is the best possible solution to the problem defined above? Naturally, prioritizing projects is hard, and the path to success is not paved with unfounded assumptions.
One way to narrow down the focus to make the right solution clear is to follow these six steps (after the relevant research, of course):
- Note the alternative solutions.
- For each solution, quantify its benefits.
- Also, forecast the costs involved in each solution.
- Then figure out its feasibility .
- Discern the risks and issues associated with each solution.
- Finally, document all this in your business case.
Step 3: Recommend a Preferred Solution
You’ll next need to rank the solutions, but before doing that it’s best to set up criteria, maybe have a scoring mechanism such as a decision matrix to help you prioritize the solutions to best choose the right one.
Some methodologies you can apply include:
- Depending on the solution’s cost and benefit , give it a score of 1-10.
- Base your score on what’s important to you.
- Add more complexity to your ranking to cover all bases.
Regardless of your approach, once you’ve added up your numbers, the best solution to your problem will become evident. Again, you’ll want to have this process also documented in your business case.
Step 4: Describe the Implementation Approach
So, you’ve identified your business problem or opportunity and how to reach it, now you have to convince your stakeholders that you’re right and have the best way to implement a process to achieve your goals. That’s why documentation is so important; it offers a practical path to solve the core problem you identified.
Now, it’s not just an exercise to appease senior leadership. Who knows what you might uncover in the research you put into exploring the underlying problem and determining alternative solutions? You might save the organization millions with an alternate solution than the one initially proposed. When you put in the work on a strong business case, you’re able to get your sponsors or organizational leadership on board with you and have a clear vision as to how to ensure the delivery of the business benefits they expect.
Our business case template for Word is the perfect tool to start writing a business case. It has 9 key business case areas you can customize as needed. Download the template for free and follow the steps below to create a great business case for all your projects.
One of the key steps to starting a business case is to have a business case checklist. The following is a detailed outline to follow when developing your business case. You can choose which of these elements are the most relevant to your project stakeholders and add them to our business case template. Then once your business case is approved, start managing your projects with a robust project management software such as ProjectManager.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary is a short version of each section of your business case. It’s used to give stakeholders a quick overview of your project.
2. Project Definition
This section is meant to provide general information about your projects, such as the business objectives that will be achieved and the project plan outline.
3. Vision, Goals and Objectives
First, you have to figure out what you’re trying to do and what is the problem you want to solve. You’ll need to define your project vision, goals and objectives. This will help you shape your project scope and identify project deliverables.
4. Project Scope
The project scope determines all the tasks and deliverables that will be executed in your project to reach your business objectives.
5. Background Information
Here you can provide a context for your project, explaining the problem that it’s meant to solve, and how it aligns with your organization’s vision and strategic plan.
6. Success Criteria and Stakeholder Requirements
Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, the quality requirements will differ, but they are critical to the project’s success. Collect all of them, figure out what determines if you’ve successfully met them and report on the results .
7. Project Plan
It’s time to create the project plan. Figure out the tasks you’ll have to take to get the project done. You can use a work breakdown structure template to make sure you are through. Once you have all the tasks collected, estimate how long it will take to complete each one.
Project management software makes creating a project plan significantly easier. ProjectManager can upload your work breakdown structure template and all your tasks are populated in our tool. You can organize them according to your production cycle with our kanban board view, or use our Gantt chart view to create a project schedule.
8. Project Budget
Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.
9. Project Schedule
Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed. For a more impactful project schedule , use a tool to make a Gantt chart, and print it out. This will provide that extra flourish of data visualization and skill that Excel sheets lack.
10. Project Governance
Project governance refers to all the project management rules and procedures that apply to your project. For example, it defines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members and the framework for decision-making.
11. Communication Plan
Have milestones for check-ins and status updates, as well as determine how stakeholders will stay aware of the progress over the project life cycle.
12. Progress Reports
Have a plan in place to monitor and track your progress during the project to compare planned to actual progress. There are project tracking tools that can help you monitor progress and performance.
Again, using a project management tool improves your ability to see what’s happening in your project. ProjectManager has tracking tools like dashboards and status reports that give you a high-level view and more detail, respectively. Unlike light-weight apps that make you set up a dashboard, ours is embedded in the tool. Better still, our cloud-based software gives you real-time data for more insightful decision-making. Also, get reports on more than just status updates, but timesheets, workload, portfolio status and much more, all with just one click. Then filter the reports and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.
13. Financial Appraisal
This is a very important section of your business case because this is where you explain how the financial benefits outweigh the project costs . Compare the financial costs and benefits of your project. You can do this by doing a sensitivity analysis and a cost-benefit analysis.
14. Market Assessment
Research your market, competitors and industry, to find opportunities and threats
15. Competitor Analysis
Identify direct and indirect competitors and do an assessment of their products, strengths, competitive advantages and their business strategy.
16. SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis helps you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while the opportunities and threats are external.
17. Marketing Strategy
Describe your product, distribution channels, pricing, target customers among other aspects of your marketing plan or strategy.
18. Risk Assessment
There are many risk categories that can impact your project. The first step to mitigating them is to identify and analyze the risks associated with your project activities.
ProjectManager , an award-winning project management software, can collect and assemble all the various data you’ll be collecting, and then easily share it both with your team and project sponsors.
Once you have a spreadsheet with all your tasks listed, you can import it into our software. Then it’s instantly populated into a Gantt chart . Simply set the duration for each of the tasks, add any dependencies, and your project is now spread across a timeline. You can set milestones, but there is so much more you can do.
You have a project plan now, and from the online Gantt chart, you can assign team members to tasks. Then they can comment directly on the tasks they’re working on, adding as many documents and images as needed, fostering a collaborative environment. You can track their progress and change task durations as needed by dragging and dropping the start and end dates.
But that’s only a taste of what ProjectManager offers. We have kanban boards that visualize your workflow and a real-time dashboard that tracks six project metrics for the most accurate view of your project possible.
Try ProjectManager and see for yourself with this 30-day free trial .
If you want more business case advice, take a moment to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, in this short training video. She explains the steps you have to take in order to write a good business case.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference.
Today we’re talking about how to write a business case. Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen the market, or maybe organizations, companies or even projects, move away from doing business cases. But, these days, companies, organizations, and those same projects are scrutinizing the investments and they’re really seeking a rate of return.
So now, think of the business case as your opportunity to package your project, your idea, your opportunity, and show what it means and what the benefits are and how other people can benefit.
We want to take a look today to see what’s in the business case and how to write one. I want to be clear that when you look for information on a business case, it’s not a briefcase.
Someone called the other day and they were confused because they were looking for something, and they kept pulling up briefcases. That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about are business cases, and they include information about your strategies, about your goals. It is your business proposal. It has your business outline, your business strategy, and even your marketing plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Case?
And so, why is that so important today? Again, companies are seeking not only their project managers but their team members to have a better understanding of business and more of an idea business acumen. So this business case provides the justification for the proposed business change or plan. It outlines the allocation of capital that you may be seeking and the resources required to implement it. Then, it can be an action plan . It may just serve as a unified vision. And then it also provides the decision-makers with different options.
So let’s look more at the steps required to put these business cases together. There are four main steps. One, you want to research your market. Really look at what’s out there, where are the needs, where are the gaps that you can serve? Look at your competition. How are they approaching this, and how can you maybe provide some other alternatives?
You want to compare and finalize different approaches that you can use to go to market. Then you compile that data and you present strategies, your goals and other options to be considered.
And then you literally document it.
So what does the document look like? Well, there are templates out there today. The components vary, but these are the common ones. And then these are what I consider essential. So there’s the executive summary. This is just a summary of your company, what your management team may look like, a summary of your product and service and your market.
The business description gives a little bit more history about your company and the mission statement and really what your company is about and how this product or service fits in.
Then, you outline the details of the product or service that you’re looking to either expand or roll out or implement. You may even include in their patents may be that you have pending or other trademarks.
Then, you want to identify and lay out your marketing strategy. Like, how are you gonna take this to your customers? Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar store? Are you gonna do this online? And, what are your plans to take it to market?
You also want to include detailed information about your competitor analysis. How are they doing things? And, how are you planning on, I guess, beating your competition?
You also want to look at and identify your SWOT. And the SWOT is your strength. What are the strengths that you have in going to market? And where are the weaknesses? Maybe some of your gaps. And further, where are your opportunities and maybe threats that you need to plan for? Then the overview of the operation includes operational information like your production, even human resources, information about the day-to-day operations of your company.
And then, your financial plan includes your profit statement, your profit and loss, any of your financials, any collateral that you may have, and any kind of investments that you may be seeking.
So these are the components of your business case. This is why it’s so important. And if you need a tool that can help you manage and track this process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager .
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- The beginner’s guide to writing an effe ...
The beginner’s guide to writing an effective business case
Nearly every project needs to be approved—whether that means getting the simple go-ahead from your team or gaining the support of an executive stakeholder. You may be familiar with using a project plan or project charter to propose a new initiative and get the green light for a project. But if your proposed project represents a significant business investment, you may need to build a business case.
If you’ve never written a business case, we’re here to help. With a few resources and a little planning, you can write a business case that will help you get the resources and support you need to manage a successful project.
What is a business case?
A business case is a document that explains the value or benefits your company will gain if you pursue a significant business investment or initiative. This initiative can be anything from the messaging for a new product or feature launch, a proposal to increase spend on a current initiative, or a significant investment with a new agency or contractor—to name a few. A compelling business case will outline the expected benefits of this significant investment decision. Key stakeholders will use the business case you provide to determine whether or not to move forward with an initiative.
If you’ve never created a business case, it may sound similar to other early project planning documentation. Here’s how it stacks up:
The difference between a business case and business plan
A business case is a proposal for a new strategy or large initiative. It should outline the business needs and benefits your company will receive from pursuing this opportunity.
A business plan , on the other hand, is an outline for a totally new business. Typically, you’d draft a business plan to map out your business strategy, your mission and vision statements, and how you’re planning on getting there. There may be a case where you create a business plan for an already-existing business, but you’d only do so if you’re trying to take your business in a significantly new direction.
Business case vs. executive summary
Business case vs. project charter.
If you need to create an elevator pitch for your project but you don’t quite need the full business case treatment, you might need a project charter. Much like a business case, a project charter outlines key details of an initiative. Specifically, a project charter will cover three main elements of your project: project objectives, project scope, and key project stakeholders. Your management team will then use the project charter to approve further project development.
Do you need a business case?
Not every project needs a business case—or even a project charter. Plan to build a business case only for initiatives or investments that will require significant business resources. If you’re working on a smaller initiative, consider creating a project charter to pitch your project idea to relevant stakeholders.
Even if you don’t need to pitch your project to any stakeholders, you should be ready to answer basic questions about your proposed project, like:
What is this project’s purpose?
Why are we working on this project?
How does this project connect to organizational goals and objectives?
Which metrics will we use to measure the success of the project ?
Who is working on this project?
When is this project going to be completed?
5 steps for creating and pitching a business case
Your business case shouldn’t just include key facts and figures—it should also tell a story of why pursuing a particular investment or initiative is a good idea for your business. When in doubt, avoid jargon and be brief—but always focus on communicating the value of the project. If this is your first time creating a business case, don’t worry. Follow these five steps to create a solid one.
1. Gather input
You don’t have to write a business case on your own. Instead, make sure appropriate team members and stakeholders are contributing to the relevant sections. For example, the IT team should be involved in any tooling and timeline decisions, while the finance team should review any budget and risk management sections. If you’re creating a business case to propose a new initiative, product line, or customer persona, make sure you also consult subject matter experts.
2. Plan to write your business case out of order
Some of the first things that appear in your business case—like your executive summary—should actually be drafted last, when you have all of the resources and information to make an informed suggestion. Your executive summary will present all of your findings and make a recommendation for the business based on a variety of factors. By gathering all of those details first—like project purpose, financial information, and project risk—you can ensure your executive summary has all of the relevant information.
3. Build your business case incrementally
A business case describes a significant investment for your company. Similarly, simply writing a business case is a significant investment of your time. Not every initiative is right for your business—so make sure you’re checking your work with stakeholders as you go. You don’t want to sink hours and weeks into this document only for it to be rejected by executive stakeholders right off the bat.
Consider doing a “soft launch” with an outline of your business case to your project sponsor or an executive stakeholder you have a good relationship with to confirm this initiative is something you should pursue. Then, as you build the different sections of your business case, check back in with your key stakeholders to confirm there are no deal-breakers.
4. Refine the document
As you create sections of your business case, you may need to go back and refine other sections. For example, once you’ve finished doing a cost-benefit analysis with your financial team, make sure you update any budget-related project risks.
Before presenting your business case, do a final read through with key stakeholders to look for any sections that can be further refined. At this stage, you’ll also want to write the executive summary that goes at the top of the document. Depending on the length of your business case, your executive summary should be one to two pages long.
5. Present the business case
The final step is to actually present your business case. Start with a quick elevator pitch that answers the what, why, and how of your proposal. Think of this presentation as your chance to explain the current business need, how your proposal addresses the need, and what the business benefits are. Make sure to address any risks or concerns you think your audience would have.
Don’t go through your business case page by page. Instead, share the document with stakeholders before the presentation so they have a chance to read through it ahead of time. Then, after your presentation, share the document again so stakeholders can dig into details.
A business case checklist
Start with the why.
The first section of the business case is your chance to make a compelling argument about the new project. Make sure you draft an argument that appeals to your audience’s interests and needs. Despite being the first section in your business case, this should be the last section you write. In addition to including the traditional elements of an executive summary , make sure you answer:
What business problem is your project solving? This is your chance to explain why your project is important and why executive stakeholders should consider pursuing this opportunity.
What is your business objective ? What happens at the end of a successful project? How will you measure success—and what does a successful project mean for your business?
How does this business case fit into your overall company business strategy plan? Make sure your proposed business case is connected to important company goals . The initiative proposed in your business case should move the needle towards your company's vision statement .
Outline financials and the return on investment
At this point in your business case, you should outline the project finance fundamentals. Don’t expect to create this section on your own—you should draft this in partnership with your company’s finance team. In particular, this section should answer:
How much will this project cost? Even if the initiative is completely new to your company, do some research to estimate the project costs.
What does each individual component of the project cost? In addition to estimating the total overall cost, break down the different project costs. For example, you might have project costs for new tools and resources, competitive intelligence resourcing, agency costs, etc.
What is the expected return on investment (ROI)? You’ve talked about the costs—now talk about how your company will benefit from this initiative. Make sure to explain how you calculated the ROI, too.
How will this project impact cash flow? Cash flow is the amount of money being transferred into and out of your business. Significant investments are going to cost a lot of money, so they’ll negatively impact cash flow—but you should also expect a high ROI, which will positively impact cash flow.
What is the sensitivity analysis? Sensitivity analysis is a summary of how uncertain your numbers are. There will be a variety of variables that impact your business case. Make sure to explain what those variables are, and how that could impact your projections.
Preview project details
Your business case is proposing a new initiative. In addition to the financial risks, take some time to preview project details. For example, your business case should include:
Your project objectives and key project deliverables . What will happen at the end of the project? What are you expecting to create or deliver once the project is over?
Your project plan . A project plan is a blueprint of the key elements your team needs to accomplish in order to successfully achieve your project goals.
The project scope . What are the boundaries of your project? What exact goals, deliverables, and deadlines will you be working towards?
A list of relevant project stakeholders . Who are the important project stakeholders and key decision makers for this work? This can include the members of the project team that would be working on this initiative, executive stakeholders who would sponsor the project, and any external stakeholders who might be involved.
A general project roadmap in a Gantt-chart like view. At this stage in the process, you don’t need to provide a detailed project timeline, but you should outline a general sense of when each project stage will happen in relation to the others. To do this, create a project roadmap in Gantt-chart like software . Make sure to include any important project milestones in your roadmap as well.
Any important project dependencies. Is there anything that would get in the way of this project getting started? Does this work rely on any other work that’s currently in flight?
Discuss project risks
Once you’ve outlined the financial impact and important project details, make sure you include any potential project risks. If you haven’t already, create a project risk management plan for your business case. Project risk management isn’t the process of eliminating risk—instead, it’s about identifying, analyzing, and proactively responding to any potential project risks. Clearly defining each project risk and how that risk might impact your project can best equip you and the project team to manage and avoid those risks.
In the risk section of your business case, include:
A risk analysis of any potential project risks. What is the risk? How likely is it to happen? What is the priority level of this risk?
What, if any, assumptions you are making. In project risk management, assumptions are anything you think will be true about the project, without those details being guaranteed facts. Basing project decisions around an assumption can open your project up to risk. Make sure you ratify every project assumption to avoid jeopardizing project success.
Any comparable alternatives in the market. If you’re writing a business case to pitch a new product or angle in the market, evaluate anything that already exists. Could the alternative impact your financial assessment or project success?
Develop an action plan
In the final section of your business case, outline how you will turn this business case into an actionable project. This section should answer questions like:
How will decisions be made? Who is responsible for the project? Who is the project sponsor? If you haven’t already, consider creating a RACI chart to outline project responsibilities.
How will progress be measured and reported? Not every project stakeholder needs to be notified of every project change. Outline key parts of your project communication plan , as well as how you’ll communicate project status updates .
What is the next course of action? If the management team ratifies this business case, what next steps will you take to put this into action?
Bring your business case to life
You’ve built a solid business case and it’s been ratified—congratulations! The next step is to bring your business case to life. It can be intimidating to initiate large-scale change , and implementing your business case is no exception.
If you haven’t already, make sure you have a project management tool in place to manage and organize your new initiative. With a central source of truth to track who’s doing what by when, share status updates, and keep project stakeholders in the loop, you can turn a great business case into a successful project.
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How To Write the Perfect Business Case
Why do too many projects fail to deliver their objectives even though project management best practices appear to be used? Project management is naturally complicated, but it can be disastrous if you don’t have sufficient buy-in from the right parties. Writing a strong and complete business case can make all the difference.
In this how-to guide you will discover,
- What is a business case?
Why you need a business case
- Is the project worth doing?
When to use a business case
How to write a business case, the business case template, a business case example, 1. the executive summary, 2. the finance section, 3. the project definition, 4. project organization, managing the business case, making the case, frequently asked questions, what is a business case.
A business case is developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the why, what, how, and who necessary to decide if it is worthwhile continuing a project. One of the first things you need to know when starting a new project are the benefits of the proposed business change and how to communicate those benefits to the business.
While the project proposal focuses on why you want a project, it will only contain an outline of the project:
- business vision
- business need
- expected benefits
- strategic fit
- products produced
- broad estimates of time and cost
- and impact on the organization
In contrast, the business case, which is first developed during the project initiation phase , contains much more detail. It should be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, canceled, deferred, or revised.
Depending on the scale of the business change, the business case may need further development as part of a detailed investigation. Therefore, it should be developed incrementally so that time and resources aren’t unnecessarily wasted on the impractical.
Preparing the business case involves an assessment of:
- Business problem or opportunity
- Costs including investment appraisal
- Technical solutions
- Impact on operations
- Organizational capability to deliver the project outcomes
These project issues are an important part of the business case. They express the problems with the current situation and demonstrate the benefits of the new business vision.
The business case brings together the benefits, disadvantages, costs , and risks of the current situation and future vision so that executive management can decide if the project should go ahead.
Many projects start life as a walk in the fog, which is fine in itself, but never see the light of day or stumble along aimlessly for too long because the clarity of scope , time-scale, cost, and benefits are not defined adequately during the first stages of the project.
Is the project worth doing
Why are you starting a project? Chances are you’re doing it because you need to solve a problem.
Usually, the problem is something that gets in the way of achieving your goals . So, it seems a project is about achieving goals and your goals won’t be realized unless you deal with the problem (or opportunity or circumstance.)
If a project is worth doing you need to answer 4 simple questions:
- What is your goal?
- What’s stopping you from reaching the goal?
- How much change is needed to overcome the problem?
- Are you certain this will solve the problem?
Can you answer these questions quickly? Do you have evidence to support or refute your assumptions?
If not, it may not be worth starting a project.
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The business case is needed when resources or expenditure on a project has to be justified. Approval is usually sought from the project sponsor and other interested parties. For instance, the finance function may authorize funds and the IT department provide resources.
The purpose of the business case is communication. Therefore, each section should be written in the parlance of the intended audience.
Moreover, it should only contain enough information to help decision making. When writing a business case keep the following in mind:
- Be brief and convey only the essentials.
- Make it interesting, clear, and concise.
- Eliminate conjecture and minimize jargon.
- Describe your vision of the future.
- Demonstrate the value and benefits the project brings to the business.
- Ensure consistent style and readability.
The project sponsor is responsible for preparing the business case. However, all appropriate team members should contribute to its development. Likewise, subject matter experts from other functions ― finance, HR, IT, service delivery, and so on ― can provide specialist information.
Those writing the business case should have a thorough understanding of the project’s aims and be able to merge the varied and potentially complex plans into one document using the following business case template.
What follows are the four steps to writing a business case template for your project. It includes the following four sections:
- Executive Summary
- Project Definition
- Project Organization
This example of a business case is a simplified version for a small company with few staff. The bigger the project, the bigger the risk, which means the more detail you will need to provide for your investors and stakeholders.
In 2021, retail e-Commerce revenue reached 768 billion US dollars. People are expecting more digital experiences and want to interact and purchase what they need online.
Our current website is just a static page with no interaction available to possible customers. With a website upgrade to incorporate an e-Commerce store, we can entice users to purchase all their training online, in return increasing productivity and efficiency within the office. An estimated $25,000 could be saved a year through this upgrade.
1.1 Financial Appraisal
The expected cost of the new website is $15,000 with a $500 annual maintenance fee.
The training costs of the staff is estimated at $2,000, but the reduction of administration and manual handling of orders is estimated to save $25,000 annually.
1.2 Sensitivity Analysis
The alternatives include:
- Maintaining the current system, which costs $25,000 annually to maintain and run.
- Upgrading the website, but not including an e-Commerce store. This would cost $6,000, but the cost of processing the orders is still $25,000.
- Outsourcing the training purchases to a third-party site, which would cost between $49.99 - $100 per month. In the long run this would cost more and offer less development scope.
2. PROJECT DEFINITION
2.1 Background information
The World is digitizing and we, as a business, must keep up with consumer demand if we are to remain one of the most sought-after training providers.
Since 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19, many more people have been working remotely and wish to access their training requirements online. We need to update our systems to provide our customers with a purely online system that can provide them with their required training courses in a virtual environment, from purchase through to attendance. This new e-Commerce website is the first step in this process.
2.2 Business Objective
The goal is to provide an online platform where customers can purchase their training requirements.
The solution is to build an e-Commerce website.
This syncs with the business strategy, as it will increase efficiency and profits.
2.3 Benefits and Limitations
The benefits of this project far out-weigh the negatives. They include:
- Improvement in the quality of customer service and user journey
- Increased conversion rate through streamlined processes
- Cost savings through efficiencies
- Reduced working capital
- Increase in revenue generated
- Remain competitive in a digital world.
The limitations of this project remain with staffing, as we do not have a web designer or developer within our company, meaning this will still have to be outsourced if anything arises at a future date.
2.4 Option Identification & Selection
Options for the e-Commerce site include the following:
- WordPress website with WooCommerce store
- All-in-one website hosted on e-Commerce platform such as Shopify
- Use of third-party payment system, such as Stripe, PayPal, or Worldpay
- Ability to take payments directly through the website and acting as controller and processor of user’s sensitive data
- Inclusion of a blog
- Integration of CRM platform.
2.5 Scope, Impact, and interdependencies
The website will be built independently from the current site, so will not affect any current processes or user experience.
2.6 Outline Plan
The website will be built by an external agency and will take around 6 months to complete and push live.
One month before going live the staff will undertake essential training.
2.7 Market Assessment
Since retail e-Commerce has risen to $768 billion US Dollars, it’s time we also made the move to online sales.
2.8 Risk Assessment
The project will be completed out of house.
2.9 Project Approach
The project will be managed out of house.
2.10 Purchasing Strategy
We will enter a contractual agreement with the creative agency. Attached is a copy of the proposed contract.
3. PROJECT ORGANIZATION
3.1 Project Governance
Project will be managed by the agency and in-house by the Centre Executive.
3.2 Progress Reporting
The agency will report to the Centre Executive.
Depending on the length of the business case you may want to include a high-level summary of the project.
The executive summary is the first section of the business case and the last written. It is a short summary of the entire business case. It succinctly conveys vital information about the project and communicates the entire story to the reader.
First impressions are important. Get this right!
The finance section of an effective business case is primarily for those who approve funding. The finance function will be interested in this plus the first half of the project definition.
When you prepare the financial appraisal seek advice on content and presentation from the finance function. In the case of capital developments, consult subject matter experts.
The purpose of a financial appraisal is to:
- Identify the financial implications for the project
- Compare project costs against the forecast benefits
- Ensure the project is affordable
- Assess value for money
- Predict cash flow.
Sensitivity analysis concerns project risk and looks at alternative futures by measuring the impact on project outcomes or assumptions of changing values in which there is uncertainty.
In effect, sensitivity analysis lets the project accountant experiment with possible scenarios.
This is the largest part of the business case and is for the project sponsor, stakeholders, and project team. It answers most of the why, what, and how questions about your project.
The purpose of this section is to give a clear introduction to the business case and project. It should contain a brief overview of the reasons why the project or business change has come about: the problem, opportunity, or change of circumstances.
If necessary, refer to related programs, projects, studies, or business plans.
This part describes why you are doing the project. The business objective answers the following questions:
- What is needed to overcome the problem?
- How will the project support the business strategy?
Benefits and limitations.
The benefits and limitations section describes the financial and non-financial benefits in turn. The purpose is to explain why you need a project.
For instance, to:
- Improve quality
- Save costs through efficiencies
- Reduce working capital
- Generate revenue
- Remain competitive
- Improve customer service
- Align to corporate strategy
The business case should also include any limitations since these present potential risk to the project.
Option identification and selection.
Identify the potential solutions to the problem and describe them in enough detail for the reader to understand.
For instance, if the business case and proposed solution makes use of technology, make sure to explain how the technology is used and define the terms used in a glossary. Since most problems have multiple solutions an option appraisal is often needed. This will explore the potential solutions and recommend the best option.
When writing the initial business case, the option appraisal is likely to contain a long list of options and will cover many possibilities. As the project continues a few options will be rejected. The final business case may contain three to five options ― the short list ― that includes a do nothing or benchmark option.
Scope, impact, and interdependencies.
This section of the business case template describes the work needed to deliver the business objective and identifies those business functions affected by the project.
Moreover, the project scope, impact, and interdependencies section should state the project’s scope and boundaries. It describes what is included and what is excluded plus the key interdependencies with other projects. It is important for the business case to consider the failure of other interrelated projects and show how such dependencies make impact benefits.
The outline plan provides a summary of the main activities and overall timescale ― project schedule ― for the project.
A project should be divided into stages with the decisions to make preceding each stage. Use this section to answer the following questions:
- What is required?
- How is it done?
- Who does what?
- When will things happen?
This outline plan lists the major deliverables and includes a brief project description plus accountabilities for each activity.
It is important that the business case provides its readers with a thorough assessment of the business context ― the market assessment. In other words, make the underlying business interests explicit.
Therefore, the market assessment should show a complete understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates.
A good starting point is the inclusions of a PESTLE ― political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental ― analysis.
The risk assessment summarizes the significant project risks and opportunities and how they are managed. Include any risks that could arise from your project, as well as the organization’s ability to deliver change.
This section answers the following questions:
- What risks are involved?
- What are the consequences of a risk happening?
- What opportunities may emerge?
- What plans are in place to deal with the risks?
- Every project should include a risk log
When writing a business case, make sure this is included as it explains how risk and opportunity are managed.
The project approach describes how the project is tackled. That is, the way in which work is done to deliver the project.
For instance, a project with much of the work contracted out is likely to take a different approach to a project that develops an in-house solution.
This section describes how a project is to be financed and whether a decision to buy, lease, or outsource should be taken by the organization before purchasing.
Moreover, the purchasing strategy should describe the purchasing process used. A formal procurement process may save time and money and reduce project risk.
The last section of the business case template is of most interest to the project manager, project team, and managers responsible for delivering work to the project. This project organization section describes how the project is set up.
This section of the business case template shows the reader how the project is structured and the different levels of decision-making. Usually, a business will already have implemented a project governance framework that will support the project through each stage.
If your organization does not use a structured project management process framework use this section to include:
- Roles and responsibilities (RACI Chart)
- Project tolerances
- Project standards
- Review points
- How decisions are made.
Finally, the business case should define how project progress is recorded and the project board updated on project performance. Usually, the project manager does this by preparing a concise progress report or highlight report at regular intervals.
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The completed business case provides structure for the project and project organization throughout the project lifecycle . Therefore, it should be used routinely for reference and not consigned to the shelf.
Accordingly, the project sponsor and project board should review and update the business case at key stages to check that the project remains viable and the reasons for doing it are still valid. Ideally, the review should take place before starting a new stage to avoid unnecessary investment in time and money.
In this article we showed you how to write a business case. We covered a lot of ground and may give the impression that the resulting business case is a large and unwieldy document.
This is not the case.
A business case should be concise and to the point. For small projects it may run to a few pages. For larger projects and complex business change endeavors the document will be large.
Therefore, be sure to keep the intended audience in mind when preparing each section and include supporting information in an appendix.
For instance, the option appraisal section may summarize each option with the details contained elsewhere for reference.
To conclude, the purpose of a business case is to outline the business rationale for undertaking a project and to provide a means to continually assess and evaluate project progress.
What is the difference between a business case and a business plan?
The focus of the business case is an action, which is usually the purchase of capital equipment or a service. In comparison, the focus of the business plan is to outline the future of a business proposal, it’s margins, revenue growth over several years and what the business goals and strategies will encompass.
What should be included in a business case?
Writing a business case can seem like a daunting task, which is why we have provided you with a business case template and example to help you make a start.
The four sections include:
What is a business case template?
A business case template provides you with a structure and format to present your case to relevant stakeholders and investors. It’s essential that this document communicate the essence of your project’s goals and benefits, while aligning with the company’s strategies and objectives.
How to Write Business Case Studies – Examples and Format
Business case studies can help you sell your services to prospects. Here’s how to write a case study that you can share with others so they can see how you have helped others. Plus, use this business case study format to create your own.
Table of Contents
What is a Business Case Study?
A business case study is a story about one of your clients and how you solved a problem for them. It allows your prospects to see how your solutions address their needs.
Think of it as painting a picture for a prospect to illustrate what a solution to their problem could look like. Business case studies allow a potential customer to understand how your company can help someone like them. When you pick a client to highlight in your business case study, your prospects can see another company who is similar in size, focus, industry, or other characteristics.
The purpose of a business case study is to make your prospects feel more comfortable with working with you. The fact that you solved a related issue for a customer very much like them will provide comfort and offer ideas.
It also serves as a customer testimonial from an existing client, which is a solid stamp of endorsement about your capabilities. Your business case studies can also include benefits such as return on investment, cost savings or other metrics that prospects want to see.
You might also like our sample Go To Market Case Study, which includes a very detailed example that you can copy/paste.
Go To Market Strategy Case Study →
Here are some steps on how to choose your subject, format the study, and display the final product on your site.
Find the Right Client for Your Business Case Study
You’ve just completed a project with a client. All the issues are resolved and everything is running smoothly. They’re pleased with the results and so are you. So what should you do now?
Take advantage of your customer success story by documenting the situation and solution in a business case study, and placing it on your website. In doing so, you’ve just equipped yourself with a highly effective marketing document.
If your client has experienced outstanding results from using your services, particularly if their issues were more complicated than most, see if they would allow you to develop their story into business case studies.
Once they grant permission, discuss what details they are comfortable with using such as their company name and location. You’ll also need to provide a Case Study Release Form to ensure you have documented legal permission to use your client’s information.
How to Write Case Studies
Use the following business case study example and format to create your own. Make sure you have your facts about the case study straight by asking your client some detailed questions and then carefully documenting the answers:
The Initial Problem
- Can you describe the problem that prompted you to seek our services?
- What were the areas where you were facing some problems, such as inefficient processes, inaccurate results, expensive or slow solutions?
- Did you already have a department or company that was not able to find a solution to your dilemma?
The Quest for a Solution
- How did you go about searching for a solution?
- Did you have a specific solution in mind when you were looking for help?
- Why did you choose us over our competitors?
The Results and Outcome
- What benefits have you received from using our company?
- How have our services saved you time and money?
Create a Colorful and Visual Case Study Template
Decide on a case study template and use it consistently for all future business case studies so they are easy to read and look consistent. This is important in order to keep your branding consistent. Choose a good-sized, easy-to-read font, and color to offset your subheads. The goal is to make the study skimmable . That way people can read it quickly without having to go over every word. Charts, infographics, and videos can also enhance the message.
Here’s a list of subheads you might want to include in your business case study template:
- Client Information
- Support Needs
- Situation (Problem)
- Success Factors
TEK Systems has an interesting approach to its case studies. When you click on a subhead, a paragraph at a time is displayed. In order to view the entire case study, you need to download a PDF where greater detail is available. You might want to consider this if you want to use the downloadable PDF to generate new leads .
Tell Your Customer Success Story Carefully
Once you have gathered your detail and settled on a template, try to write the content of the case study as if writing a customer story, because it is! You’re retelling the story of your company’s professional victory.
Using 1st and 2nd person keeps the case study more personal and relatable. Detail, including specific numbers, and information on hardware and software systems, helps reinforce the valuable support your managed services company has provided.
Make Business Case Studies Easy to Find
Now that the case studies are developed, decide the best place to locate them on your website menu. You should provide a clear path so the case studies are accessible.
You can also categorize your business case studies to make them easier to locate. Possible categorizations could include industry, company size, or technology. If you hope to find more clients within the same industry, providing a case study of a similar company is a great way to build a niche market . You’ll have written proof that your company is well equipped to meet the particular needs of their profession.
A business case study is more than a list of the client, problem, and solution; it’s a powerful illustration of your company’s powerhouse of problem-solving arsenal. If used effectively, you will be armed with another strong marketing tool to build your business.
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Case writing is a vital force behind research at HBS. Nearly 80 percent of cases used at business schools worldwide are developed by HBS faculty. HBS case studies have helped refine the skills and business judgment of tens of thousands of students, practitioners, and academics across the world. The School is continually expanding and refreshing course content as HBS faculty write new cases that span the globe, industries, disciplines, and organizational forms in the public, private for profit, and non-profit spaces. As its faculty continues to develop case studies, the School is shaping business learning and educating future leaders in a positive way for years to come.
What is a case study?
The HBS case study is a teaching vehicle that presents students with a critical management issue and serves as a springboard to lively classroom debate in which participants present and defend their analysis and prescriptions. The average case is 15 to 20 pages long (about 7 to 12 pages of prose and 5 to 7 pages of tables and figures). The two main types of cases at the School are field cases based on onsite research, and library cases written solely from public sources. HBS also writes "armchair" cases based entirely on faculty’s general knowledge and experience. Moreover, in 1995, the School’s Educational Technology Services began producing multimedia cases that provide a rich learning experience by bringing together video, audio, graphics, animation, and other mediums.
Case research and writing
At HBS, academic research and case development are connected and mutually reinforcing. Cases provide the opportunity for faculty to assess and develop ideas, spark insights on nascent research questions early in a project, illustrate theory in practice, and get feedback in the classroom on those very concepts. In addition, case writing provides faculty a means to collaborate and to develop research ideas both across disciplines and across institutions.
Field case development is a dynamic and collaborative process in which faculty engage business or governmental leaders, sometimes working together with a colleague at HBS or at other academic institutions. The Case Studies for Harvard Business School brochure is a helpful resource to organizations interested in working with the School on a case. Case leads are identified based on a faculty’s teaching purpose and may arise as the result of a past relationship with an executive, a former student, or from a professor’s interest in exploring with a company’s management team a situation that would provide a meaningful learning experience. HBS works closely with host organizations to guarantee confidentiality.
Field cases typically take two months to complete - from obtaining a host organization’s approval to move forward on a case, to conducting onsite interviews, and drafting a case that paints a picture of the management issue and provides a mix of real-world uncertainty and information required for decision-making analysis.
A vast array of case-writing support is available to HBS faculty. Support is provided by case writers who work as individual research associates or are available on a project by project basis through our on-campus Case Research and Writing Group and eight regional research centers ( Asia-Pacific , California , Europe , India , Japan , Latin America , Harvard Center Shanghai , and Istanbul). Baker Library’s extensive business collection and specialist librarians comprise another invaluable research and case-writing resource.
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How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)
By Kat Boogaard , May 19, 2022 - 10 min read
A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business , and your strategies for achieving those goals.
But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else?
A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.
The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template .
What is a business case?
A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.
The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem.
Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this:
- Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers.
- Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results.
- End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects.
In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.
Examples of business cases
The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell.
Consider the example of Febreze . In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint.
P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.
But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer.
After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.
That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”:
Business Case: ABC Widgets
Section 1: summary.
Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.
ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget.
Section 2: Project Scope
This section should include the following:
- Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold.
- Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers.
- Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue.
- Plan . Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks.
- Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah.
This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed?
How do you write and develop a business case?
When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.
But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.
Challenges of writing a good business case
Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one.
“The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte , communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.
The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.
A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working.
How do you present a business case?
The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.
Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”
If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.
The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own:
- Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case . No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up.
- Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through.
- Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers.
- Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point.
If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be.
Business case checklist
Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself):
- Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward?
- Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next.
- Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action.
- Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize.
- Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?
With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together.
Business case template
A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner.
Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include:
- Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business
- Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information
- SWOT analysis : An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors
- Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them
- Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project
- Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved
Let's see what that might look like.
How to write a business case with Wrike
Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.
The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process.
If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template . This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.
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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template
Updated: October 10, 2023
Published: January 12, 2023
Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a struggle. Before you can even begin to expect to earn their business, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on what your product or service promises.
Sure, you could say that you're great at X or that you're way ahead of the competition when it comes to Y. But at the end of the day, what you really need to win new business is cold, hard proof.
One of the best ways to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. In fact, HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so compelling that they are the fifth most commonly used type of content used by marketers.
Below, I'll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what you need to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic. To jump to different areas of this post, click on the links below to automatically scroll.
Case Study Definition
Case study templates, how to write a case study.
- How to Format a Case Study
Business Case Study Examples
A case study is a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they've chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.
In professional settings, it's common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client. Perhaps the success you're highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company's services in action.
When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers and help you attract new clients.
Free Case Study Templates
Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.
- Data-Driven Case Study Template
- Product-Specific Case Study Template
- General Case Study Template
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Why write a case study?
I know, you’re thinking “ Okay, but why do I need to write one of these? ” The truth is that while case studies are a huge undertaking, they are powerful marketing tools that allow you to demonstrate the value of your product to potential customers using real-world examples. Here are a few reasons why you should write case studies.
1. Explain Complex Topics or Concepts
Case studies give you the space to break down complex concepts, ideas, and strategies and show how they can be applied in a practical way. You can use real-world examples, like an existing client, and use their story to create a compelling narrative that shows how your product solved their issue and how those strategies can be repeated to help other customers get similar successful results.
2. Show Expertise
Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on a given topic or industry. This is where you get the opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills and how you’ve generated successful outcomes for clients you’ve worked with.
3. Build Trust and Credibility
In addition to showing off the attributes above, case studies are an excellent way to build credibility. They’re often filled with data and thoroughly researched, which shows readers you’ve done your homework. They can have confidence in the solutions you’ve presented because they’ve read through as you’ve explained the problem and outlined step-by-step what it took to solve it. All of these elements working together enable you to build trust with potential customers.
4. Create Social Proof
Using existing clients that have seen success working with your brand builds social proof . People are more likely to choose your brand if they know that others have found success working with you. Case studies do just that — putting your success on display for potential customers to see.
All of these attributes work together to help you gain more clients. Plus you can even use quotes from customers featured in these studies and repurpose them in other marketing content. Now that you know more about the benefits of producing a case study, let’s check out how long these documents should be.
How long should a case study be?
The length of a case study will vary depending on the complexity of the project or topic discussed. However, as a general guideline, case studies typically range from 500 to 1,500 words.
Whatever length you choose, it should provide a clear understanding of the challenge, the solution you implemented, and the results achieved. This may be easier said than done, but it's important to strike a balance between providing enough detail to make the case study informative and concise enough to keep the reader's interest.
The primary goal here is to effectively communicate the key points and takeaways of the case study. It’s worth noting that this shouldn’t be a wall of text. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, charts, and other graphics to break up the content and make it more scannable for readers. We’ve also seen brands incorporate video elements into case studies listed on their site for a more engaging experience.
Ultimately, the length of your case study should be determined by the amount of information necessary to convey the story and its impact without becoming too long. Next, let’s look at some templates to take the guesswork out of creating one.
To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, we've put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates for creating your own.
Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today:
And to give you more options, we’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs. But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done.
1. General Case Study Template
Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product Specific case study template will help.
This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction. As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.
4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template
You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.
In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service. Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.
5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template
It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced. A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.
If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.
Now that we’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.
- Get started with case study templates.
- Determine the case study's objective.
- Establish a case study medium.
- Find the right case study candidate.
- Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
- Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
- Download a case study email template.
- Define the process you want to follow with the client.
- Ensure you're asking the right questions.
- Layout your case study format.
- Publish and promote your case study.
1. Get started with case study templates.
Telling your customer's story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.
If you're just getting started with case studies, we recommend you download HubSpot's Case Study Templates we mentioned before to kickstart the process.
2. Determine the case study's objective.
All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.
Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you're featuring. In other words, what will the client have succeeded in doing by the end of the piece?
The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.
Your case study can focus on one of the following client objectives:
- Complying with government regulation
- Lowering business costs
- Becoming profitable
- Generating more leads
- Closing on more customers
- Generating more revenue
- Expanding into a new market
- Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient
3. Establish a case study medium.
Next, you'll determine the medium in which you'll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?
Case studies don't have to be simple, written one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels. For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel.
Here are some different case study mediums to consider:
Written Case Study
Consider writing this case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form for readers to fill out before downloading the piece, allowing this case study to generate leads for your business.
Video Case Study
Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers.
Infographic Case Study
Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom. As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.
Podcast Case Study
Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they'll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.
4. Find the right case study candidate.
Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story. You need permission, quotes, and a plan. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.
It helps to select a customer who's well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, he or she can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense for future customers.
Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they're more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want prospects to feel, too.
One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced unexpected success from your product or service. When you've provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don't usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.
While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own. In fact, 89% of consumers say they'll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.
Customers that came to you after working with a competitor help highlight your competitive advantage and might even sway decisions in your favor.
5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication. That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having those is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.
Most importantly at this point, however, is getting your subject's approval. When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study's objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in the first two steps above.
To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study? Although you're writing this for your own company's benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them.
Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate
Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.
Explain to your subject to whom this case study will be exposed, and how this exposure can help increase their brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry. In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one's own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name's reach.
Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees. When this is an option for them, their brand isn't the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too. This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.
This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they're a current customer of yours. If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank-you for their help creating your case study.
Backlinks and Website Traffic
Here's a benefit that is sure to resonate with your subject's marketing team: If you publish your case study on your website, and your study links back to your subject's website — known as a "backlink" — this small gesture can give them website traffic from visitors who click through to your subject's website.
Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject's page authority in the eyes of Google. This helps them rank more highly in search engine results and collect traffic from readers who are already looking for information about their industry.
6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
So you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, it’s time that you prepare the resources needed for if and when they agree to participate, like a case study release form and success story letter.
Let's break those two down.
Case Study Release Form
This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case studies once they are completed. That said, you should typically aim to include the following in the Case Study Release Form:
- A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
- A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
- An explanation of what you expect from the participant, beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback, and do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
- A note about compensation.
Success Story Letter
As noted in the sample email, this document serves as an outline for the entire case study process. Other than a brief explanation of how the customer will benefit from case study participation, you'll want to be sure to define the following steps in the Success Story Letter.
7. Download a case study email template.
While you gathered your resources, your candidate has gotten time to read over the proposal. When your candidate approves of your case study, it's time to send them a release form.
A case study release form tells you what you'll need from your chosen subject, like permission to use any brand names and share the project information publicly. Kick-off this process with an email that runs through exactly what they can expect from you, as well as what you need from them. To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email:
8. Define the process you want to follow with the client.
Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.
First, you'll need to receive internal approval from the company's marketing team. Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It's also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.
To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you'll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation. That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.
Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview, which should include a series of custom questions related to the customer's experience with your product or service.
The Draft Review
After the case study is composed, you'll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.
The Final Approval
Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.
Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it's best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives. Don't be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.
9. Ensure you're asking the right questions.
Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you're setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions. What do those look like? Here are a few examples to get you started:
- What are your goals?
- What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
- What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
- What did your decision-making process look like?
- How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)
Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview. And once you get to that stage, we recommend that you follow the "Golden Rule of Interviewing." Sounds fancy, right? It's actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.
If you're looking to craft a compelling story, "yes" or "no" answers won't provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, "Can you describe ...?" or, "Tell me about ..."
In terms of the interview structure, we recommend categorizing the questions and flowing them into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they'll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.
Open with the customer's business.
The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company's current challenges and goals, and how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many employees do you have?
- What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?
Cite a problem or pain point.
To tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer's need with your solution. Sample questions might include:
- What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
- What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
- Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?
Discuss the decision process.
Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. Sample questions might include:
- How did you hear about our product or service?
- Who was involved in the selection process?
- What was most important to you when evaluating your options?
Explain how a solution was implemented.
The focus here should be placed on the customer's experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:
- How long did it take to get up and running?
- Did that meet your expectations?
- Who was involved in the process?
Explain how the solution works.
The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:
- Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
- Who is using the product or service?
End with the results.
In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:
- How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
- In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
- How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?
10. Lay out your case study format.
When it comes time to take all of the information you've collected and actually turn it into something, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What's the best way to structure it?
To help you get a handle on this step, it's important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study. They can be very visual, which you'll see in some of the examples we've included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text.
Here are the sections we suggest, which we'll cover in more detail down below:
- Title: Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
- Subtitle: Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
- Executive Summary : A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You'll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
- About the Subject: An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
- Challenges and Objectives: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer's challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
- How Product/Service Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
- Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
- Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
- Future Plans: Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what's ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
- Call to Action (CTA): Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you've gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.
11. Publish and promote your case study.
Once you've completed your case study, it's time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.
But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:
Lead Gen in a Blog Post
As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client's success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they'd like to read the rest in your PDF.
Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.
Published as a Page on Your Website
As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.
Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a "Case Studies" or "Testimonials" button along your homepage's top navigation bar.
Format for a Case Study
The traditional case study format includes the following parts: a title and subtitle, a client profile, a summary of the customer’s challenges and objectives, an account of how your solution helped, and a description of the results. You might also want to include supporting visuals and quotes, future plans, and calls-to-action.
The title is one of the most important parts of your case study. It should draw readers in while succinctly describing the potential benefits of working with your company. To that end, your title should:
- State the name of your custome r. Right away, the reader must learn which company used your products and services. This is especially important if your customer has a recognizable brand. If you work with individuals and not companies, you may omit the name and go with professional titles: “A Marketer…”, “A CFO…”, and so forth.
- State which product your customer used . Even if you only offer one product or service, or if your company name is the same as your product name, you should still include the name of your solution. That way, readers who are not familiar with your business can become aware of what you sell.
- Allude to the results achieved . You don’t necessarily need to provide hard numbers, but the title needs to represent the benefits, quickly. That way, if a reader doesn’t stay to read, they can walk away with the most essential information: Your product works.
The example above, “Crunch Fitness Increases Leads and Signups With HubSpot,” achieves all three — without being wordy. Keeping your title short and sweet is also essential.
Your subtitle is another essential part of your case study — don’t skip it, even if you think you’ve done the work with the title. In this section, include a brief summary of the challenges your customer was facing before they began to use your products and services. Then, drive the point home by reiterating the benefits your customer experienced by working with you.
The above example reads:
“Crunch Fitness was franchising rapidly when COVID-19 forced fitness clubs around the world to close their doors. But the company stayed agile by using HubSpot to increase leads and free trial signups.”
We like that the case study team expressed the urgency of the problem — opening more locations in the midst of a pandemic — and placed the focus on the customer’s ability to stay agile.
3. Executive Summary
The executive summary should provide a snapshot of your customer, their challenges, and the benefits they enjoyed from working with you. Think it’s too much? Think again — the purpose of the case study is to emphasize, again and again, how well your product works.
The good news is that depending on your design, the executive summary can be mixed with the subtitle or with the “About the Company” section. Many times, this section doesn’t need an explicit “Executive Summary” subheading. You do need, however, to provide a convenient snapshot for readers to scan.
In the above example, ADP included information about its customer in a scannable bullet-point format, then provided two sections: “Business Challenge” and “How ADP Helped.” We love how simple and easy the format is to follow for those who are unfamiliar with ADP or its typical customer.
4. About the Company
Readers need to know and understand who your customer is. This is important for several reasons: It helps your reader potentially relate to your customer, it defines your ideal client profile (which is essential to deter poor-fit prospects who might have reached out without knowing they were a poor fit), and it gives your customer an indirect boon by subtly promoting their products and services.
Feel free to keep this section as simple as possible. You can simply copy and paste information from the company’s LinkedIn, use a quote directly from your customer, or take a more creative storytelling approach.
In the above example, HubSpot included one paragraph of description for Crunch Fitness and a few bullet points. Below, ADP tells the story of its customer using an engaging, personable technique that effectively draws readers in.
5. Challenges and Objectives
The challenges and objectives section of your case study is the place to lay out, in detail, the difficulties your customer faced prior to working with you — and what they hoped to achieve when they enlisted your help.
In this section, you can be as brief or as descriptive as you’d like, but remember: Stress the urgency of the situation. Don’t understate how much your customer needed your solution (but don’t exaggerate and lie, either). Provide contextual information as necessary. For instance, the pandemic and societal factors may have contributed to the urgency of the need.
Take the above example from design consultancy IDEO:
“Educational opportunities for adults have become difficult to access in the United States, just when they’re needed most. To counter this trend, IDEO helped the city of South Bend and the Drucker Institute launch Bendable, a community-powered platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other.”
We love how IDEO mentions the difficulties the United States faces at large, the efforts its customer is taking to address these issues, and the steps IDEO took to help.
6. How Product/Service Helped
This is where you get your product or service to shine. Cover the specific benefits that your customer enjoyed and the features they gleaned the most use out of. You can also go into detail about how you worked with and for your customer. Maybe you met several times before choosing the right solution, or you consulted with external agencies to create the best package for them.
Whatever the case may be, try to illustrate how easy and pain-free it is to work with the representatives at your company. After all, potential customers aren’t looking to just purchase a product. They’re looking for a dependable provider that will strive to exceed their expectations.
In the above example, IDEO describes how it partnered with research institutes and spoke with learners to create Bendable, a free educational platform. We love how it shows its proactivity and thoroughness. It makes potential customers feel that IDEO might do something similar for them.
The results are essential, and the best part is that you don’t need to write the entirety of the case study before sharing them. Like HubSpot, IDEO, and ADP, you can include the results right below the subtitle or executive summary. Use data and numbers to substantiate the success of your efforts, but if you don’t have numbers, you can provide quotes from your customers.
We can’t overstate the importance of the results. In fact, if you wanted to create a short case study, you could include your title, challenge, solution (how your product helped), and result.
8. Supporting Visuals or Quotes
Let your customer speak for themselves by including quotes from the representatives who directly interfaced with your company.
Visuals can also help, even if they’re stock images. On one side, they can help you convey your customer’s industry, and on the other, they can indirectly convey your successes. For instance, a picture of a happy professional — even if they’re not your customer — will communicate that your product can lead to a happy client.
In this example from IDEO, we see a man standing in a boat. IDEO’s customer is neither the man pictured nor the manufacturer of the boat, but rather Conservation International, an environmental organization. This imagery provides a visually pleasing pattern interrupt to the page, while still conveying what the case study is about.
9. Future Plans
This is optional, but including future plans can help you close on a more positive, personable note than if you were to simply include a quote or the results. In this space, you can show that your product will remain in your customer’s tech stack for years to come, or that your services will continue to be instrumental to your customer’s success.
Alternatively, if you work only on time-bound projects, you can allude to the positive impact your customer will continue to see, even after years of the end of the contract.
10. Call to Action (CTA)
Not every case study needs a CTA, but we’d still encourage it. Putting one at the end of your case study will encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
It will also make it easier for them to reach out, if they’re ready to start immediately. You don’t want to lose business just because they have to scroll all the way back up to reach out to your team.
To help you visualize this case study outline, check out the case study template below, which can also be downloaded here .
You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you're left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.
To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.
1. "Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization," by HubSpot
What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.
Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So, while case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.
2. "New England Journal of Medicine," by Corey McPherson Nash
When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that's what they do. So in building the case study for the studio's work on the New England Journal of Medicine's integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client's digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.
Notice that the case study does include some light written copy — which includes the major points we've suggested — but lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio's services.
3. "Designing the Future of Urban Farming," by IDEO
Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — "The Challenge" and "The Outcome."
Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study's major pillars. And while that's great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM's challenge — it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.
4. "Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament," by WatchGuard
Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly. Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Boosts Social Media Engagement and Brand Awareness with HubSpot
In the case study above , HubSpot uses photos, videos, screenshots, and helpful stats to tell the story of how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used the bot, CRM, and social media tools to gain brand awareness.
6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello
This case study from Trello is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.
It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.
7. Facebook's Mercedes Benz Success Story
Facebook's Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.
Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it's organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.
Showcasing Your Work
You work hard at what you do. Now, it's time to show it to the world — and, perhaps more important, to potential customers. Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, we hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling good about it.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in July 2021.
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Showcase your company's success using these free case study templates.
5 Steps for Writing a Case Study for Business (+Templates)
Get professional tips for writing a case study that drives business impact. Learn the best format and research method to use alongside examples & templates.
7 minute read
What is a case study.
- Open with an introductory overview
- Explain the problem in question
- Detail the solutions that solved the problem
- Refer to key results
- Finish with recommendations and next steps
Why you need a case study
“I climbed Mount Everest and I did it all by myself.” “Yeah mate, pics or it didn’t happen.” The same logic applies to case studies. In business, it’s “case studies or it didn’t happen.” A well-written case study legitimizes your product or services. It proves the impact your actions have on the bottom line and is the single most important element of building trust amongst prospective clients. But… How do you write a *perfect* case study? One that engages readers and makes them care about your offering and excited to work with you?
In business, a case study , or customer success story, is a marketing tool that showcases how your product or service helped clients overcome business challenges. It uses statistics, quotes, and specific examples to convincingly highlight your ability to produce results.
What is the purpose of a case study?
The purpose of a case study, usually, is to provide your prospective clients with specific examples of how your products or services can help solve business problems they might be facing.
Case studies legitimize your business activities allowing you to go beyond explaining what you do and focus on how well you do it. (And, in case you were wondering just HOW important case studies are, here’s an item of data to ponder: according to a DemandGen report , 78% of B2B buyers want to review case studies before making a purchase decision.)
There’s no magic behind it. Just a proven, simple formula I’m about to share with you. Spend the next 7 minutes reading this guide and you’ll learn how to write case studies better than any case study you’ve created in the past. Important caveat: this article explains how to write a case study for business purposes. If you’re interested in writing research case studies for academia, refer to this excellent guide by University of Southern California. If, in turn, you’re struggling with putting together a medical case study, here’s a fantastic 101 by the BMJ . I’m not going to pretend I know better than these guys do.
For your reference, here’s an example of our very own case study, showing how, at Storydoc, we helped the Spot company boost some of their key metrics: Learn How Spot by NetApp boosted their conversion rates 2x.
Spot's team used this deck to boost their conversion 2x
By drawing the bigger picture even deep-tech software products can be easily explained.
Browse interactive case study templates
No matter how great the contents of your case study might be, if you fail to present it in an eye-pleasing way, most likely, no one will really read it. The good news? I’ve put together a gallery of the most professional, attention-grabbing case study templates available online. You can find it here: Case Study Templates & Design Tips Or, take a shortcut to great case study design and use our presentation maker . Have a look below to see what your case study might look like.
And now, let’s get to the case study 101. (If you’re only interested in a specific section of a case study, simply click on a jump-to link in the table of contents below.
Here's how to write a case study:
1. Open with an introductory overview
The last thing you want is for someone to open your case study, give it a quick glance, and decide to skip. See— People don’t usually read case studies. At least not immediately. First, they skim the contents to see if the subject is relevant enough. How to make sure your case study sticks? At the beginning, place an introductory overview (also called an “executive summary”). Provide an overview of the whole case. It’s not supposed to be a catchy intro but a full synopsis, detailing the problem at hand, your assumptions, the solutions implemented, and the results achieved.
How to write a case study introduction?
Introduce the purpose of the case study—specify exactly what you were aiming to achieve.
Define the problem or the most significant challenge. For instance, low conversion rates, a technological issue or high costs. (It could also be a combination of such factors!)
Explain briefly what the solution to the problem was.
Share the most important results your actions produced. Don’t go into too much detail, a few key points will do. It’s best if you can quantify the results: numbers pop!
Keep it short. Usually, 2–4 paragraphs + a few bullet points with key results will do.
While, as its name implies, this section comes at the beginning of your case study, write it last. First, craft the rest of your document, then pick the most important bits and compile them into the introductory overview.
2. Explain the problem in question
“Adam caught a flat tire. In the middle of the desert. He had no spare, no signal, no food, and only enough water to keep him alive for 48 hours.” Oh dear, poor Adam! What could possibly be done to help him?! See, in your case study, make the client seem like Adam so that, later on, you can paint your company like the miraculous savior. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but only so much. The purpose of the “problem” section in a case study is to arouse emotions from the readers. Ideally, in such a way that they can picture themselves as Adam. Highlight a problem your product or services solve and present an example of when that problem was troubling a client really badly.
How to write a “problem” section in a case study?
In a single sentence, describe your customer’s business challenges and objectives.
Explain the problem your customer faced that prevented them from achieving those objectives prior to working with you.
If that was the case, mention other solutions your client experimented with that didn’t work out and explain why.
Make it clear how the issue or problem impacted the client’s business results so that it’s easy to understand why a solution was badly needed.
3. Detail the solutions implemented to solve the problem
Here comes the moment to toot your own horn a bit (and also that moment when you can get slightly technical). Present your solutions in reference to the issue your client was dealing with and make it obvious that those are easily replicable for all future cases. Of course, the exact formula for this section will depend on your industry and mode of operation. Sometimes a 2–3 paragraph summary will be enough, in other cases, you’ll need to include more detailed technical specs regarding the solution you implemented.
How to write a solutions section in a case study?
Focus on your customer’s experience in using your product or services.
Explain the process: say how long it took to get the solution up and running and what teams on your customer’s end were involved.
Highlight the features of your product or service that turned out to be the most beneficial to your customer.
If possible, attach or link to relevant assets that will work as real-life examples of your solution (unless, of course, the information is highly sensitive).
Always run your case study by your client’s marketing team before you go live. Even if you’re using direct quotes or verifiable results, it’s ultimately their decision whether or not to make certain information freely available.
4. Refer to key results
In business, nothing speaks louder than ROI and you know it. Prospective customers reading your case study won’t be bothered to take notice of your state-of-the-art technology or innovative approach. Neither will they care about your past customers’ happiness. What they want to know is this: Will that help me save or make money? When writing a case study, your job is to present results in a way that answers the above question with a resounding YES. You need to make it blatantly obvious that your solutions heavily impact the bottom line of the client in question and that such results are easily replicable.
Here’s how to write about results:
In a few bullet points, list numerical results your solution delivered to the client.
Ideally, you’ll want to include revenue-related data: increase in clients’ base, more demos booked, higher conversion rates, or optimized pricing.
If you can’t (or aren’t allowed to) share hard sales numbers, refer to softer KPIs: time saved, customer happiness scores, expanding the community, or enhancing brand visibility.
If possible, by all means include quotes from your client. Results should speak for themselves, obviously, but showing the real human whose problems you solved makes for a much more powerful narrative. Plus, it further adds credibility to the case study. Start by preparing a list of powerful case study questions to guide your client interviews.8
5. Finish with recommendations and next steps
Everyone enjoys a solid epilogue. To end on a high note, include a list of key findings from your case study. Even if a given reader won’t decide to get in touch with you, at least you’ll provide them with a valuable source of knowledge—sometimes that’s enough to keep your company top of mind in the future. Plus, if you’re planning to continue working with the subject of your case study, definitely mention that! It shows that your support is valuable enough to warrant long-term collaboration, not just a one-off endeavor. Now, not every case study requires a call to action (especially if your main purpose is to inform and educate rather than convert, which is okay, too), but for those more commercially-oriented ones, do add it. Make your CTA singular and clear —if the most desired action is to reach out to you, leave your contact details, if you’d rather direct prospects to a landing page or a welcome screen, add a button.
And that’s a wrap!
Here are the key points to keep in mind when writing a case study:
Put an introductory overview at the beginning.
Present the problem you were solving and your exact solutions to that problem.
Include numerical, verifiable results your product or services delivered for the client.
Explain what the next steps are, especially if you plan to continue working with the client.
Finish with a strong, clear CTA, making it easy for prospects to reach out to you.
Thanks for reading the guide. Keeping my fingers crossed for your case study and wishing many successful cases so that you’ll always have something to write about.
Hi, I'm John, Editor-in-chief at Storydoc. As a content marketer and digital writer specializing in B2B SaaS, my main goal is to provide you with up-to-date tips for effective business storytelling and equip you with all the right tools to enable your sales efforts.
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How to Write a Business Case Study
by Julia McCoy | Dec 1, 2016 | How to Write
Business case studies can have a massive impact on your marketing, done right.
While they cost time and effort to create, they can be a stellar tactic to draw new customers to your business and help you earn new clients.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t sure how to start when it’s time to write copy for them.
If you’re one of the many individuals who wants to learn how to write a business case study, but just aren’t sure where to get started, my simple guide is here to help you step-by-step – another installment of our #howtowrite series!
What is a Case Study?
A case study is a piece of content, published by a company, that outlines their success or effectiveness in dealing with a client. It’s commonly used as a piece of marketing content and can be incredibly useful since it helps would-be clients understand how the agency or professional has excelled in the past.
Virtually every successful online company uses case studies, and Express Writers is no different! Earlier this year, in fact, we published a case study that showcases how we helped a client boost their revenue by 77% after creating some product descriptions for them.
Case studies are more than just a piece of self-congratulating marketing material (this is an incorrect assumption that many people hold about these unique content types), though. In fact, they’re meant less to stroke the company in question’s ego than they are to help would-be clients understand how a given company can assist them.
The Top 4 Benefits of Why You Should Learn How to Write a Business Case Study
So, why go to all the time to create your own case study? (It IS a ton of time and effort!)
If the “what is” didn’t argue in favor already, here are key reasons to spend your time finding out how to write a business case study, and putting one of your own together.
Business case studies have many advantages . The top four are as follows:
1. Case studies allow a company to use storytelling to bring their product to life
Whether it’s a service or a hard-and-fast consumer product, a case study is an excellent way to illustrate it and help bring it to life for new customers. Just like any great novel, a good case study has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a conflict and a resolution. It’s a wildly effective way to make somewhat complex products real and can go a long way toward improving the way your clients perceive your offerings, especially for new businesses .
2. Case studies provide peer-to-peer influence
Peer-to-peer influence is a massively important thing, and case studies are wonderful at fulfilling it because they offer the view of a customer rather than a company. While it’s a company that publishes a case study, the entire thing is dedicated to recounting a customer’s experience. Direct quotes, statistics, and more are standard, and these things are fantastic for helping would-be clients to see the value in a company.
3. Case studies offer real-life examples
We’ve all heard about how critical customer reviews are for conversion rates, and case studies take this one step further. By providing real-life examples of your product at work, paired with glowing customer reviews, they can help new customers feel more confident in your company and take the leap to convert.
For an example, check out this case study excerpt (from our own clientele based case study ):
4. Case studies are powerful word-of-mouth advertising
Because a company must ask permission from a client to use his or her data in a case study, the inclusion of a customer in a case study often leads to some brand evangelism that can help boost your company’s visibility and improve your conversion rates.
How to Write a Business Case Study: Your Complete Guide in 5 Steps
So, you want to write a case study, but you’re not sure where to begin! This guide will help you get started.
1. Identify your best possible avenue for data
When it comes time to write a case study, you might have multiple cases to choose from. The first part of being successful, though, is narrowing these things down. For your case study to succeed, it must contain just the right information, and it’s critical to ensure this from the get-go. To determine which of your various cases would be the best fit for a study, look at them and evaluate whether or not they contain the following elements:
- A significant challenge . This could be a tight timeline, a complicated issue, low sales numbers, or even a need for entirely new software integration.
- A satisfying solution . For your case study to fall into the realm of storytelling, it needs a solution that customers can relate to.
- A series of substantial benefits. The final component in a case study is the benefit. An excellent case study should feature several benefits that your customers can relate to deeply. The benefits will be even more compelling if they’re solid statistics like we used when we say we boosted the client’s sales by 77% year-over-year. The more granular, the better in this case.
2. Write your case study (5 key tips)
Now comes the tough part – the writing! While it’s true that writing a case study requires a different set of skills and a different voice than everyday writing, it’s far from impossible.
To ace your DIY case study, follow these tips:
- Choose your voice carefully
Depending on your brand and the content of the case study, you can write it in either the first or third person. Either approach will work, and most case studies use a mixture of both.
EXAMPLE: Our client-based case study at Express Writers does this, and it flows quite nicely. If you’re going to use a combination of both the first and the third person, though, be sure that you’re enhancing the third-person parts with direct quotes from the client, as straight third-person voice can sound overly narrated after a while.
- Make your title specific and attention-grabbing
The title is a critical component of the case study. To make it as attention-grabbing as possible, include percentages and strong action verbs. Here are some good examples from real-life case studies:
- “ How Fake News Goes Viral: a Case Study ”
- “ HubSpot Partner Agency Element Three Doubles Yearly Revenue ”
- “ How KISSmetrics Increased Webinar Sign-Up Rates by 1,000% ”
Remember: titles perform better when they are as accurate as possible. That’s why phrases like “by 1,000%” and “doubles yearly revenue” appear in these wide-ranging case studies.
- Keep your language simple
Many people think that learning how to write a business case study involves incorporating jargon and corporate-speak into the writing. Fortunately, this isn’t true. In fact, writing a business case study requires you to keep your language simple rather than making it more complicated. The more you can avoid corporate jargon in your case studies, the better.
In addition to making them more natural and approachable, this will also allow non-customers to approach your case study without being intimidated away by overly complicated case study language.
- Add real numbers to your case study
When you look at the case study titles above, most people would agree that “increased webinar sign-up rates by 1,000%” is the most memorable phrase up there. In addition to the fact that this is a shocking number, it’s also so precise that it grabs reader attention.
With this in mind, follow KISSmetrics’s lead and include real numbers in your case studies. While phrases like “doubled this” or “tripled that” are powerful, they just don’t have the added oomph they need to take your case study to the top.
- Write from the beginning to the end
A case study is not the place to leave out critical data. Instead, write from the beginning to the end and keep it as accurate and chronological as possible. This will help flesh out the entire circumstances surrounding your interaction with the client and allow your readers to understand your impact more effectively.
3. Finish the case study with all of your relevant contact information
Since a case study is designed, at least in part, for press distribution, it should be outfitted with your contact information and details. This will allow other companies, customers, and more to contact you regarding the case study, and will help to make the information within it more accessible to other people.
While there are different standards for which information you “should” include in a case study, most sources recommend including your phone number, website, email, and one or two social profiles, along with a short bio. This will provide enough information for interested parties to contact you and can help boost the ROI of your case study down the road.
4. Hire a designer to finish the product
Don’t forget that every good case study needs a great design, and it can be helpful to bring in a designer to add some visual interest to the piece. Simple things, like using text boxes to pull out key facts, statistics, and quotes, and inputting related graphics and charts can make all of the difference in your case study and should be used liberally to enhance its value and interest.
We can help – our lead designer is familiar with how to take copy and create custom, beautiful designs in Adobe to match! Check out our case study service here.
5. Publish the case study
Publishing your case study is the final step in creating it. To get the most success from your case study, you’ll want to post it in the places your real audience and prospective customers frequent. This may mean publishing the case study on your blog, reaching out to relevant publishing platforms, or gating the case study and using it to drive email sign-ups for your company.
Alternately, KISSmetrics recommends appealing to different types of learners by breaking your case study into unexpected formats, like a podcast, a YouTube video, or an infographic!
We published ours in a few different forms.
Then, as a landing page.
What About Hiring a Specialist to Write the Case Study?
Writing a case study requires a very particular voice, and if you don’t have the time or confidence to do it yourself, it’s in your best interests to hire someone specifically who knows how to write case studies and has done it before. In addition to making your case studies more efficient, this will also help you create the best possible case study and not drive yourself into the ground as you do it.
No matter how good the writer you hire is, you’ll have to provide them with some specific information about your case study.
Ideally, you should give the author a very clear overview of what you’d like from the case study. This should include the following components:
- The products, goods, or services you’d like the case study to promote
- The benefits you provided for the client
- The struggle the client faced
- The specific way you went about resolving it
- The result (percentages, direct quotes from the customer, and facts are helpful here)
- The deadline for the case study
These things are critical for helping your writer create the best possible case study, and they’ll go a long way toward making the process more lucrative and enjoyable for you, as well.
The Case for Case Studies
Case studies are an incredibly useful tool and can have a massive positive impact on your content marketing.
While most companies don’t think they can create case studies, learning how to write a business case study is simple, as long as you’re willing to put in some time and work.
In addition to helping your customers understand the benefits of your services, case studies also provide an essential platform for new clients to see your products at work, which can be all they need to convert and become brand evangelists.
By following my tips above, you can learn how to write business case studies from scratch. Simple, effective, and critical for your company, this is one ROI-boosting move you simply will not regret.
Don’t want to D-I-Y? Trust our marketing team of experts: we’ve crafted successful case studies for businesses of all types. Talk to us today about your case study writing & creation needs!
Download your Free copy of How to Write a Business Case Study
How to Write a Case Study Analysis
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When writing a business case study analysis , you must first have a good understanding of the case study . Before you begin the steps below, read the business case carefully, taking notes all the while. It may be necessary to read the case several times to get all of the details and fully grasp the issues facing the group, company, or industry.
As you are reading, do your best to identify key issues, key players, and the most pertinent facts. After you are comfortable with the information, use the following step-by-step instructions (geared toward a single-company analysis) to write your report. To write about an industry, just adapt the steps listed here to discuss the segment as a whole.
Step 1: Investigate the Company’s History and Growth
A company’s past can greatly affect the present and future state of the organization. To begin, investigate the company’s founding, critical incidents, structure, and growth. Create a timeline of events, issues, and achievements. This timeline will come in handy for the next step.
Step 2: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Using the information you gathered in step one, continue by examining and making a list of the value creation functions of the company. For example, the company may be weak in product development but strong in marketing. Make a list of problems that have occurred and note the effects they have had on the company. You should also list areas where the company has excelled. Note the effects of these incidents as well.
You're essentially conducting a partial SWOT analysis to get a better understanding of the company's strengths and weaknesses. A SWOT analysis involves documenting things like internal strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) and external opportunities (O) and threats (T).
Step 3: Examine the External Environment
The third step involves identifying opportunities and threats within the company’s external environment. This is where the second part of the SWOT analysis (the O and the T) comes into play. Special items to note include competition within the industry, bargaining powers, and the threat of substitute products. Some examples of opportunities include expansion into new markets or new technology. Some examples of threats include increasing competition and higher interest rates.
Step 4: Analyze Your Findings
Using the information in steps 2 and 3, create an evaluation for this portion of your case study analysis. Compare the strengths and weaknesses within the company to the external threats and opportunities. Determine if the company is in a strong competitive position, and decide if it can continue at its current pace successfully.
Step 5: Identify Corporate-Level Strategy
To identify a company’s corporate-level strategy, identify and evaluate the company’s mission , goals, and actions toward those goals. Analyze the company’s line of business and its subsidiaries and acquisitions. You also want to debate the pros and cons of the company strategy to determine whether or not a change might benefit the company in the short or long term.
Step 6: Identify Business-Level Strategy
Thus far, your case study analysis has identified the company’s corporate-level strategy. To perform a complete analysis, you will need to identify the company’s business-level strategy. (Note: If it is a single business, without multiple companies under one umbrella, and not an industry-wide review, the corporate strategy and the business-level strategy are the same.) For this part, you should identify and analyze each company’s competitive strategy, marketing strategy, costs, and general focus.
Step 7: Analyze Implementations
This portion requires that you identify and analyze the structure and control systems that the company is using to implement its business strategies. Evaluate organizational change, levels of hierarchy, employee rewards, conflicts, and other issues that are important to the company you are analyzing.
Step 8: Make Recommendations
The final part of your case study analysis should include your recommendations for the company. Every recommendation you make should be based on and supported by the context of your analysis. Never share hunches or make a baseless recommendation.
You also want to make sure that your suggested solutions are actually realistic. If the solutions cannot be implemented due to some sort of restraint, they are not realistic enough to make the final cut.
Finally, consider some of the alternative solutions that you considered and rejected. Write down the reasons why these solutions were rejected.
Step 9: Review
Look over your analysis when you have finished writing. Critique your work to make sure every step has been covered. Look for grammatical errors , poor sentence structure, or other things that can be improved. It should be clear, accurate, and professional.
Business Case Study Analysis Tips
Keep these strategic tips in mind:
- Know the case study backward and forward before you begin your case study analysis.
- Give yourself enough time to write the case study analysis. You don't want to rush through it.
- Be honest in your evaluations. Don't let personal issues and opinions cloud your judgment.
- Be analytical, not descriptive.
- Proofread your work, and even let a test reader give it a once-over for dropped words or typos that you no longer can see.
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7 Favorite Business Case Studies to Teach—and Why
- Case Teaching
- Course Materials
FEATURED CASE STUDIES
The Army Crew Team . Emily Michelle David of CEIBS
ATH Technologies . Devin Shanthikumar of Paul Merage School of Business
Fabritek 1992 . Rob Austin of Ivey Business School
Lincoln Electric Co . Karin Schnarr of Wilfrid Laurier University
Pal’s Sudden Service—Scaling an Organizational Model to Drive Growth . Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School
The United States Air Force: ‘Chaos’ in the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron . Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School
Warren E. Buffett, 2015 . Robert F. Bruner of Darden School of Business
To dig into what makes a compelling case study, we asked seven experienced educators who teach with—and many who write—business case studies: “What is your favorite case to teach and why?”
The resulting list of case study favorites ranges in topics from operations management and organizational structure to rebel leaders and whodunnit dramas.
1. The Army Crew Team
Emily Michelle David, Assistant Professor of Management, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)
“I love teaching The Army Crew Team case because it beautifully demonstrates how a team can be so much less than the sum of its parts.
I deliver the case to executives in a nearby state-of-the-art rowing facility that features rowing machines, professional coaches, and shiny red eight-person shells.
After going through the case, they hear testimonies from former members of Chinese national crew teams before carrying their own boat to the river for a test race.
The rich learning environment helps to vividly underscore one of the case’s core messages: competition can be a double-edged sword if not properly managed.
Executives in Emily Michelle David’s organizational behavior class participate in rowing activities at a nearby facility as part of her case delivery.
Despite working for an elite headhunting firm, the executives in my most recent class were surprised to realize how much they’ve allowed their own team-building responsibilities to lapse. In the MBA pre-course, this case often leads to a rich discussion about common traps that newcomers fall into (for example, trying to do too much, too soon), which helps to poise them to both stand out in the MBA as well as prepare them for the lateral team building they will soon engage in.
Finally, I love that the post-script always gets a good laugh and serves as an early lesson that organizational behavior courses will seldom give you foolproof solutions for specific problems but will, instead, arm you with the ability to think through issues more critically.”
2. ATH Technologies
Devin Shanthikumar, Associate Professor of Accounting, Paul Merage School of Business
“As a professor at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business, and before that at Harvard Business School, I have probably taught over 100 cases. I would like to say that my favorite case is my own, Compass Box Whisky Company . But as fun as that case is, one case beats it: ATH Technologies by Robert Simons and Jennifer Packard.
ATH presents a young entrepreneurial company that is bought by a much larger company. As part of the merger, ATH gets an ‘earn-out’ deal—common among high-tech industries. The company, and the class, must decide what to do to achieve the stretch earn-out goals.
ATH captures a scenario we all want to be in at some point in our careers—being part of a young, exciting, growing organization. And a scenario we all will likely face—having stretch goals that seem almost unreachable.
It forces us, as a class, to really struggle with what to do at each stage.
After we read and discuss the A case, we find out what happens next, and discuss the B case, then the C, then D, and even E. At every stage, we can:
see how our decisions play out,
figure out how to build on our successes, and
address our failures.
The case is exciting, the class discussion is dynamic and energetic, and in the end, we all go home with a memorable ‘ah-ha!’ moment.
I have taught many great cases over my career, but none are quite as fun, memorable, and effective as ATH .”
3. Fabritek 1992
Rob Austin, Professor of Information Systems, Ivey Business School
“This might seem like an odd choice, but my favorite case to teach is an old operations case called Fabritek 1992 .
The latest version of Fabritek 1992 is dated 2009, but it is my understanding that this is a rewrite of a case that is older (probably much older). There is a Fabritek 1969 in the HBP catalog—same basic case, older dates, and numbers. That 1969 version lists no authors, so I suspect the case goes even further back; the 1969 version is, I’m guessing, a rewrite of an even older version.
There are many things I appreciate about the case. Here are a few:
It operates as a learning opportunity at many levels. At first it looks like a not-very-glamorous production job scheduling case. By the end of the case discussion, though, we’re into (operations) strategy and more. It starts out technical, then explodes into much broader relevance. As I tell participants when I’m teaching HBP's Teaching with Cases seminars —where I often use Fabritek as an example—when people first encounter this case, they almost always underestimate it.
It has great characters—especially Arthur Moreno, who looks like a troublemaker, but who, discussion reveals, might just be the smartest guy in the factory. Alums of the Harvard MBA program have told me that they remember Arthur Moreno many years later.
Almost every word in the case is important. It’s only four and a half pages of text and three pages of exhibits. This economy of words and sparsity of style have always seemed like poetry to me. I should note that this super concise, every-word-matters approach is not the ideal we usually aspire to when we write cases. Often, we include extra or superfluous information because part of our teaching objective is to provide practice in separating what matters from what doesn’t in a case. Fabritek takes a different approach, though, which fits it well.
It has a dramatic structure. It unfolds like a detective story, a sort of whodunnit. Something is wrong. There is a quality problem, and we’re not sure who or what is responsible. One person, Arthur Moreno, looks very guilty (probably too obviously guilty), but as we dig into the situation, there are many more possibilities. We spend in-class time analyzing the data (there’s a bit of math, so it covers that base, too) to determine which hypotheses are best supported by the data. And, realistically, the data doesn’t support any of the hypotheses perfectly, just some of them more than others. Also, there’s a plot twist at the end (I won’t reveal it, but here’s a hint: Arthur Moreno isn’t nearly the biggest problem in the final analysis). I have had students tell me the surprising realization at the end of the discussion gives them ‘goosebumps.’
Finally, through the unexpected plot twist, it imparts what I call a ‘wisdom lesson’ to young managers: not to be too sure of themselves and to regard the experiences of others, especially experts out on the factory floor, with great seriousness.”
4. Lincoln Electric Co.
Karin Schnarr, Assistant Professor of Policy, Wilfrid Laurier University
“As a strategy professor, my favorite case to teach is the classic 1975 Harvard case Lincoln Electric Co. by Norman Berg.
I use it to demonstrate to students the theory linkage between strategy and organizational structure, management processes, and leadership behavior.
This case may be an odd choice for a favorite. It occurs decades before my students were born. It is pages longer than we are told students are now willing to read. It is about manufacturing arc welding equipment in Cleveland, Ohio—a hard sell for a Canadian business classroom.
Yet, I have never come across a case that so perfectly illustrates what I want students to learn about how a company can be designed from an organizational perspective to successfully implement its strategy.
And in a time where so much focus continues to be on how to maximize shareholder value, it is refreshing to be able to discuss a publicly-traded company that is successfully pursuing a strategy that provides a fair value to shareholders while distributing value to employees through a large bonus pool, as well as value to customers by continually lowering prices.
However, to make the case resonate with today’s students, I work to make it relevant to the contemporary business environment. I link the case to multimedia clips about Lincoln Electric’s current manufacturing practices, processes, and leadership practices. My students can then see that a model that has been in place for generations is still viable and highly successful, even in our very different competitive situation.”
5. Pal’s Sudden Service—Scaling an Organizational Model to Drive Growth
Gary Pisano, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
“My favorite case to teach these days is Pal’s Sudden Service—Scaling an Organizational Model to Drive Growth .
I love teaching this case for three reasons:
1. It demonstrates how a company in a super-tough, highly competitive business can do very well by focusing on creating unique operating capabilities. In theory, Pal’s should have no chance against behemoths like McDonalds or Wendy’s—but it thrives because it has built a unique operating system. It’s a great example of a strategic approach to operations in action.
2. The case shows how a strategic approach to human resource and talent development at all levels really matters. This company competes in an industry not known for engaging its front-line workers. The case shows how engaging these workers can really pay off.
3. Finally, Pal’s is really unusual in its approach to growth. Most companies set growth goals (usually arbitrary ones) and then try to figure out how to ‘backfill’ the human resource and talent management gaps. They trust you can always find someone to do the job. Pal’s tackles the growth problem completely the other way around. They rigorously select and train their future managers. Only when they have a manager ready to take on their own store do they open a new one. They pace their growth off their capacity to develop talent. I find this really fascinating and so do the students I teach this case to.”
6. The United States Air Force: ‘Chaos’ in the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron
Francesca Gino, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
“My favorite case to teach is The United States Air Force: ‘Chaos’ in the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron .
The case surprises students because it is about a leader, known in the unit by the nickname Chaos , who inspired his squadron to be innovative and to change in a culture that is all about not rocking the boat, and where there is a deep sense that rules should simply be followed.
For years, I studied ‘rebels,’ people who do not accept the status quo; rather, they approach work with curiosity and produce positive change in their organizations. Chaos is a rebel leader who got the level of cultural change right. Many of the leaders I’ve met over the years complain about the ‘corporate culture,’ or at least point to clear weaknesses of it; but then they throw their hands up in the air and forget about changing what they can.
Chaos is different—he didn’t go after the ‘Air Force’ culture. That would be like boiling the ocean.
Instead, he focused on his unit of control and command: The 99th squadron. He focused on enabling that group to do what it needed to do within the confines of the bigger Air Force culture. In the process, he inspired everyone on his team to be the best they can be at work.
The case leaves the classroom buzzing and inspired to take action.”
7. Warren E. Buffett, 2015
Robert F. Bruner, Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business
“I love teaching Warren E. Buffett, 2015 because it energizes, exercises, and surprises students.
Buffett looms large in the business firmament and therefore attracts anyone who is eager to learn his secrets for successful investing. This generates the kind of energy that helps to break the ice among students and instructors early in a course and to lay the groundwork for good case discussion practices.
Studying Buffett’s approach to investing helps to introduce and exercise important themes that will resonate throughout a course. The case challenges students to define for themselves what it means to create value. The case discussion can easily be tailored for novices or for more advanced students.
Either way, this is not hero worship: The case affords a critical examination of the financial performance of Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, and reveals both triumphs and stumbles. Most importantly, students can critique the purported benefits of Buffett’s conglomeration strategy and the sustainability of his investment record as the size of the firm grows very large.
By the end of the class session, students seem surprised with what they have discovered. They buzz over the paradoxes in Buffett’s philosophy and performance record. And they come away with sober respect for Buffett’s acumen and for the challenges of creating value for investors.
Surely, such sobriety is a meta-message for any mastery of finance.”
More Educator Favorites
Emily Michelle David is an assistant professor of management at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Her current research focuses on discovering how to make workplaces more welcoming for people of all backgrounds and personality profiles to maximize performance and avoid employee burnout. David’s work has been published in a number of scholarly journals, and she has worked as an in-house researcher at both NASA and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Devin Shanthikumar is an associate professor and the accounting area coordinator at UCI Paul Merage School of Business. She teaches undergraduate, MBA, and executive-level courses in managerial accounting. Shanthikumar previously served on the faculty at Harvard Business School, where she taught both financial accounting and managerial accounting for MBAs, and wrote cases that are used in accounting courses across the country.
Robert D. Austin is a professor of information systems at Ivey Business School and an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Medical School. He has published widely, authoring nine books, more than 50 cases and notes, three Harvard online products, and two popular massive open online courses (MOOCs) running on the Coursera platform.
Karin Schnarr is an assistant professor of policy and the director of the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where she teaches strategic management at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels. Schnarr has published several award-winning and best-selling cases and regularly presents at international conferences on case writing and scholarship.
Gary P. Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie, Jr. Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean of faculty development at Harvard Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. Pisano is an expert in the fields of technology and operations strategy, the management of innovation, and competitive strategy. His research and consulting experience span a range of industries including aerospace, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, health care, nutrition, computers, software, telecommunications, and semiconductors.
Francesca Gino studies how people can have more productive, creative, and fulfilling lives. She is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author, most recently, of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life . Gino regularly gives keynote speeches, delivers corporate training programs, and serves in advisory roles for firms and not-for-profit organizations across the globe.
Robert F. Bruner is a university professor at the University of Virginia, distinguished professor of business administration, and dean emeritus of the Darden School of Business. He has also held visiting appointments at Harvard and Columbia universities in the United States, at INSEAD in France, and at IESE in Spain. He is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books on finance, management, and teaching. Currently, he teaches and writes in finance and management.
All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study
What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.
What Is a Case Study?
A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.
What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?
While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.
Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.
The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.
Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:
Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.
Types of Case Studies
The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:
- Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
- Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
- Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
- Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
- Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.
Case Study Format
The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:
- Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
- Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
- Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
- Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
- Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
- Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
- References. Provide all the citations.
How to Write a Case Study
Let's discover how to write a case study.
Setting Up the Research
When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:
- Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
- Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
- Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
- Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
- Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.
Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'
Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:
- Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
- Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
- Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
- Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
- Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
- Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
- Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
- Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.
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Case Study Outline
Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.
- Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
- Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
- Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
- Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
- Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
- Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
- Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
- Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
- Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
- Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
- Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
- Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.
Writing a Case Study Draft
After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:
- Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
- In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
- Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
- Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
- At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.
Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study
Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :
With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.
Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.
Finalizing the Draft: Checklist
After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:
- Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
- Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
- Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
- Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?
Problems to avoid:
- Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
- Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
- Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.
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How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study
Let's see how to create an awesome title page.
Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:
- A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
- The title should have the words “case study” in it
- The title should range between 5-9 words in length
- Your name and contact information
- Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.
Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:
There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.
Citation Example in MLA Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.
Case Study Examples
To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.
Eastman Kodak Case Study
Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany
To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .
Get Help Form Qualified Writers
Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.
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How to Write a Case Study | Examples & Methods
What is a case study?
A case study is a research approach that provides an in-depth examination of a particular phenomenon, event, organization, or individual. It involves analyzing and interpreting data to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject under investigation.
Case studies can be used in various disciplines, including business, social sciences, medicine ( clinical case report ), engineering, and education. The aim of a case study is to provide an in-depth exploration of a specific subject, often with the goal of generating new insights into the phenomena being studied.
When to write a case study
Case studies are often written to present the findings of an empirical investigation or to illustrate a particular point or theory. They are useful when researchers want to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific phenomenon or when they are interested in exploring new areas of inquiry.
Case studies are also useful when the subject of the research is rare or when the research question is complex and requires an in-depth examination. A case study can be a good fit for a thesis or dissertation as well.
Case study examples
Below are some examples of case studies with their research questions:
These examples demonstrate the diversity of research questions and case studies that can be explored. From studying small businesses in Ghana to the ethical issues in supply chains, case studies can be used to explore a wide range of phenomena.
Outlying cases vs. representative cases
An outlying case stud y refers to a case that is unusual or deviates significantly from the norm. An example of an outlying case study could be a small, family-run bed and breakfast that was able to survive and even thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, while other larger hotels struggled to stay afloat.
On the other hand, a representative case study refers to a case that is typical of the phenomenon being studied. An example of a representative case study could be a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations that faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reduced demand for hotel rooms, increased safety and health protocols, and supply chain disruptions. The hotel chain case could be representative of the broader hospitality industry during the pandemic, and thus provides an insight into the typical challenges that businesses in the industry faced.
Steps for Writing a Case Study
As with any academic paper, writing a case study requires careful preparation and research before a single word of the document is ever written. Follow these basic steps to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial details when composing your case study.
Step 1: Select a case to analyze
After you have developed your statement of the problem and research question , the first step in writing a case study is to select a case that is representative of the phenomenon being investigated or that provides an outlier. For example, if a researcher wants to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, they could select a representative case, such as a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations, or an outlying case, such as a small bed and breakfast that was able to pivot their business model to survive during the pandemic. Selecting the appropriate case is critical in ensuring the research question is adequately explored.
Step 2: Create a theoretical framework
Theoretical frameworks are used to guide the analysis and interpretation of data in a case study. The framework should provide a clear explanation of the key concepts, variables, and relationships that are relevant to the research question. The theoretical framework can be drawn from existing literature, or the researcher can develop their own framework based on the data collected. The theoretical framework should be developed early in the research process to guide the data collection and analysis.
To give your case analysis a strong theoretical grounding, be sure to include a literature review of references and sources relating to your topic and develop a clear theoretical framework. Your case study does not simply stand on its own but interacts with other studies related to your topic. Your case study can do one of the following:
- Demonstrate a theory by showing how it explains the case being investigated
- Broaden a theory by identifying additional concepts and ideas that can be incorporated to strengthen it
- Confront a theory via an outlier case that does not conform to established conclusions or assumptions
Step 3: Collect data for your case study
Data collection can involve a variety of research methods , including interviews, surveys, observations, and document analyses, and it can include both primary and secondary sources . It is essential to ensure that the data collected is relevant to the research question and that it is collected in a systematic and ethical manner. Data collection methods should be chosen based on the research question and the availability of data. It is essential to plan data collection carefully to ensure that the data collected is of high quality
Step 4: Describe the case and analyze the details
The final step is to describe the case in detail and analyze the data collected. This involves identifying patterns and themes that emerge from the data and drawing conclusions that are relevant to the research question. It is essential to ensure that the analysis is supported by the data and that any limitations or alternative explanations are acknowledged.
The manner in which you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard academic paper, with separate sections or chapters for the methods section , results section , and discussion section , while others are structured more like a standalone literature review.
Regardless of the topic you choose to pursue, writing a case study requires a systematic and rigorous approach to data collection and analysis. By following the steps outlined above and using examples from existing literature, researchers can create a comprehensive and insightful case study that contributes to the understanding of a particular phenomenon.
Preparing Your Case Study for Publication
After completing the draft of your case study, be sure to revise and edit your work for any mistakes, including grammatical errors , punctuation errors , spelling mistakes, and awkward sentence structure . Ensure that your case study is well-structured and that your arguments are well-supported with language that follows the conventions of academic writing . To ensure your work is polished for style and free of errors, get English editing services from Wordvice, including our paper editing services and manuscript editing services . Let our academic subject experts enhance the style and flow of your academic work so you can submit your case study with confidence.
How to write a case study that will help you convert more clients
Courting new clients can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of agency or freelance work. But there’s one tool that...
Courting new clients can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of agency or freelance work. But there’s one tool that can help ease and expedite that process: showcasing your work through case studies. Case studies are the most trusted form of marketing content according to 60% of clients, customers, and consumers, far surpassing visual content (34%) or blog posts (31%) according to a recent survey conducted by Marketing research firm Ascend2 .
With case studies, you have the chance to demonstrate your skills and emphasize the outcomes of your work. In effect, you’re drawing a line between your work and the results, whether that’s measured in terms of engagement, revenue or another impact. And what you get is instant credibility. It’s like being vouched for — not with a testimonial or recommendation, but with examples and evidence.
Still, it’s important to present this evidence in a way that’s appealing and memorable to your prospective clients, ensuring that they both take the time to look at it and keep it in mind as they shop around.
Here’s how to write a case study that will help you attract new clients and grow your business.
What is a case study?
A case study in marketing is an in-depth example of how a product or service has helped past clients. It usually explains the process in detail from start to finish and shows measurable results.
A case study is normally laid out as follows:
Visuals are often included showcasing the product or service, and the results are usually displayed in a graph or other illustration. When successfully executed, the result is a story that lets prospective clients imagine what it would be like to work with you and convinces them you’re the best match for their needs.
What is the purpose of a case study for marketing?
Case studies are powerful tools for those looking to grow their business by attracting new clients, especially in the B2B space. When a business is shopping around for a marketing agency, a set of compelling case studies on hand can ultimately be the deciding factor in choosing one agency partner over another.
Unlike standalone samples that show off top-tier work, a great case study incorporates storytelling, allowing prospects to see how your agency is different in terms of the quality of your work and your processes. And for marketers who are performance-driven, it offers a glimpse at potential outcomes and ROI.
A case study can be a particularly important tool for individuals who are fielding agencies. When you give them strong reasons to put you at the top of the stack, it makes their jobs easier, and it makes them look good, too.
How to write a good case study
First, you’ll want to identify 1) who your audience is and 2) what you’re trying to demonstrate before choosing the right client and project to feature in a case study.
Next, gather all of the background on the project that you’ll need in order to paint a compelling picture. Now, it’s easy enough to start plugging the information at hand into your case study outline.
A case study can be made up largely of images or video, but typically, they also contain a few hundred to a few thousand words of text. Your needs might vary; you know your business and your audience best. The most important thing to consider is how to attract and hold your potential client’s attention. Remember: No one wants to spend valuable time consuming overly long, self-important reports.
Therefore, case studies should be no more than a few pages in length and should contain some visual elements (like photos or charts) to break up the text. They’re usually sectioned off for easier reading — and though the headers of each section might vary, they should align roughly with the elements below.
Here are the four essential parts to include when writing a case study:
1. Introduce the client or customer
Case studies always start with an introduction to the client or customer. The reader of the case study will want to understand if this example is directly relatable to their company and business needs. That doesn’t mean that the client featured in your case study needs to be identical to the prospective client who’s reading it, but they might have a few things in common, such as size, industry or budget. An engaging headline and intro serve as a useful “hook,” which makes the reader want to keep reading.
2. Explain the project’s objectives
Why did the case study’s client or customer approach you? They likely had a problem they needed to solve or a goal they were hoping to achieve. Further details, such as aspirations and challenges, that inform how the project developed could be introduced here.
3. Describe your product or service
This is where you’ll explain how you created the final product or carried out your service in order to solve the client’s problem or meet their goals. Be sure to explain your rationale: Why was this the right product or service for them in particular, at this time? Include your process step by step.
4. Report the results
Finally, you have the chance to share the data that backs up why your instincts were correct. Here are some questions to address in this section:
Why did you choose these KPIs?
What process was used to measure the results?
What length of time was assessed?
Were there any other unexpected positive outcomes?
Help the reader stay engaged with graphics and charts. Tie the results back to the original objectives in order to paint the greater story arc. A testimonial from the client about their experience and results can be a great way to close.
[Related: How to generate leads in Wix Marketplace ]
Pro tips for writing a good case study
Following the steps outlined above can help you create a compelling case study, but there are a few additional tips to keep in mind that will take your work to the next level and can help your case study stand out from others that follow this standard recipe.
1. Make your client the hero of the story
It’s important that your prospective clients can see themselves in your case studies. Therefore, they shouldn’t be all about your work and how great your team is, which is likely to come across as promotional. (Besides, in a well-written case study, those elements will shine through anyway.) The hero of the story is your client: What drove them to find you in the first place? How did they feel once they realized you were successfully helping them resolve their original challenge? This is the heart of good storytelling. Explain the experience from their point of view.
2. Customize your case studies
As with all client engagement and marketing efforts, it’s important to understand your audience. This way, you can be sure to share case studies that address all of their questions, concerns, hopes and needs. (This might ultimately entail creating a small suite of case studies to resonate with your various lead types.) For example, if you’re targeting mom-and-pop shops, you might lose them with a case study featuring a huge global corporation.
3. Rely on eye-catching visuals and strong writing
Don’t forget the importance of eye-catching graphic elements and well-crafted copy. These aspects are vital to a solid case study — and what sets it apart from a dry and boring business report. Draw in your audience first, then drive your message home. Think of this as yet another chance to show off your skills.
4. Add concrete data and relevant metrics
As stated earlier, it’s not only important to showcase your awesome skills — it’s imperative to prove the results of that work. The more you can lean on measurable metrics to showcase how your work benefited previous clients and campaigns, the more obvious it will be that you’re the best choice as a business and creative partner.
Time to write a case study
Take some time to analyze some case study templates or examples online. See if you can dig up any case studies by other agencies in your niche, taking note of how you could take things up a notch or differentiate yourself from them. After all, just as with any marketing collateral, the goal isn’t to look like everyone else but to showcase what makes your brand unique.
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