How to Create A Business Case with the SARIE Method

When making a large investment in our lives, we very often evaluate our current situation, explore options, and weigh the value or benefits that the investment will bring. When purchasing a new home or a car for example, we will often do so because our current home or car is too small/big or possibly too old. We weigh factors like the cost of maintenance, commute to work/friends/family, etc. When considering a new one, we look at the features and the pros and cons it will bring with it. Finally, upon purchase, many of us will look at the outcome and consider or confirm if this was the best option.

This is, essentially, the same process that companies now undertake to justify investment in a new project – theirs is just a little more complex. It’s become common practice for businesses to want to understand the value of an investment before they allocate funds, time, and efforts toward it. And why wouldn’t they? No one wants to invest in a project that is not thought through or is doomed to fail. So we must create a plan to support the solutions we’re going to propose. 

To do so, we need to create a Business Case.

What Is A Business Case?

A business case is a document that is usually developed during the beginning stages of a project. It’s used to outline the problem, the approximate cost, the anticipated value in the solution, the necessary team involved, and a strategy for how to proceed with execution. 

It’s important to be knowledgeable of the value that the new project will bring and the proper way to communicate those benefits to the decision-makers. At this point, you might be wondering, doesn’t a Project Proposal do the same thing? The two documents are similar, but the proposal only focuses on the problem and the value in solving it. The Business Case expands on those details to provide more insight into potential solution options and their costs. For this reason, the Business Case is often the primary document for gaining approvals to move forward with the project or product.

Why Make A Business Case?

There are many reasons why you need to make a business case. Preparing a business case helps you take a more disciplined approach to critically examining the opportunity, potential alternatives, different stages, and financial investment necessary to take the best course of action. By assessing all these different variables, you have the opportunity to make the decision that provides the most business value. 

Spending extra time to develop an effective business case provides you with the opportunity to make a more informed and dedicated proposal. That helps increase the benefit and value of the project. Simultaneously, it allows you a chance to identify, assess, and reduce the potential risks that a project may present.

How To Create A Business Case (SARIE Method)

Now that you understand how Business Cases are used and why they are important, I’ll teach you how to create one. There are several methods that can be employed, but we will be explaining it using the five-step SARIE method.

Define the Situation

The first step in the process involves you defining the situation completely. It involves identifying the business and user needs. These details include a detailed explanation of the business problems and potential opportunities that might arise.

It’s crucial to provide an accurate representation of the situation. Painting an exaggerated rosy or catastrophic picture does the organization a disservice. But by providing an accurate and constructive representation of the situation, you put yourself in the best position to analyze and recommend what the business needs to address.

Analyze The Origin Of The Problem

One of the most significant reasons why you should develop a business case is that it allows you to analyze and solve issues. That’s what the second stage of the SARIE method is all about. It’s about analyzing why a particular problem is occurring before moving on to present a solution or take advantage of an opportunity.

There are a few important business tools that can help in the analysis stage. Creating Mind Maps, Fishbone Diagrams, and Process Diagrams are a great help in the high-level analysis of a problem. And, as needed, further analysis could be done using other techniques such as Relationship Diagrams, Pareto Diagrams, and Scatter Diagrams to gain further details on the problem and its root cause.

Propose a Recommendation

After successfully identifying the root causes of an issue, organizations can move towards listing and similarly analyzing all possible options that could negate the problem. This would include a broad description of the solution, its anticipated costs, and the projected outcomes. Once all the solution options are properly discussed, a solution recommendation is made.

But prior to identifying solutions, we must first define the solution scope. The solution scope explains the extent of the business that this change could affect. This could include departments, teams, processes, systems, etc. By clearly defining the scope of the change first, it’s easier to analyze the solutions and determine which will best satisfy the identified needs.

Plan the Implementation

The fourth stage of the SARIE method is the Implementation stage. It essentially describes how the solution is going to be delivered. At this stage, you will consider the many details of implementing the proposed solution.

This includes important questions like updating versus new, buying versus building, and outsourcing or not. This plan will inform the organization of the anticipated approach to facilitate change and satisfy the end goal.

Evaluate the Solution

The last step in the process is to anticipate and evaluate the expected outcomes of the project. This analysis provides information that enables informed decision-making.

The correct implementation will help ensure that the decision-maker(s) can easily judge the cost-effectiveness of the solution when compared to the anticipated benefits. It also allows them to properly compare the recommended solution with any potential alternatives.


Now that you’re equipped with all the necessary information and these key steps, it’s time to get working on your business case. Follow the SARIE method to ensure that you cover all details and showcase the true value of a business initiative to your organization! Still not sure how to get started? No problem – check out my course ‘Plan the Project’ to learn more about how to tackle your project effectively.

Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide


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