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Full Business Case Process

Full Business Case Process

All projects with more than £5 million total funding investment are required to follow the Better Business Case – using the five case model, for business case submission.

This is a three (3) stage process including:

  • Strategic Outline Case (SOC)
  • Outline Business Case (OBC)
  • Full Business Case (FBC)

This is an iterative process with information becoming more accurate and definitive as the business case moves through each stage.  It is important that each of these submission stages incorporates information to answer the five key cases:

  • Strategic Case
    • What is the strategic fit with government/organisational policies?
    • Is there a robust case for change?
    • Is it ‘fit-for-purpose’?
  • Economic Case
    • Does the proposal optimise value for money?
    • Is it appropriate?
    • Have different options been considered during this process?
  • Commercial Case
    • Is the proposal commercially viable?
    • How will it be procured?
    • Is it attractive?
  • Financial Case
    • Is the proposal financially viable?
    • Is it affordable?
    • Where will project match funding come from?
  • Management Case
    • Will the management structure deliver the project on time and budget?
    • How will it be achieved?

Summary guidance for SOC, OBC and FBC stages are given below.  For more guidance and information, please refer to our Business Case and publicity guidance.


This needs to:

  • confirm the strategic context of the investment proposal
  • set out the rationale
  • make a robust case for change at a strategic level
  • set the background to the proposal
  • explain the objectives that are to be achieved
  • provide stakeholders and customers with an early indication of the proposed way forward (not the preferred option).

The Strategic Case should be completed in full at this stage.  However, some revisions (refining of detail) are permissible at future iterations of the case (i.e. Outline and Full Business case).

  • The strategic policy context and the fit with wider public policy objectives should be satisfactorily explained. This information will be reviewed by key policy areas in DfES and needs to appropriately explain fit with their policy area;
  • show any interaction dependency with other policy programmes; and
  • identify the main stakeholder groups and any potential conflicts/competing demands.

Investment objectives are critical to the strategic case; these need to be strategic, measureable, accurate, realistic and timely (SMART).  They will form the benefit realisation plan of your project and ultimately demonstrate the return on investment.


The OBC is the second stage of the business case submission. The purpose and key elements to be assessed at OBC are :


  • Set out the procurement strategy, ownership of any assets and key contractual issues identified and explained


  • Contains a detailed analysis of affordability and any funding gaps


  • Develops in more details how the programme/project will be delivered with an outline of the proposed programme/project management plan and provides details of how the programme/project will be managed in accordance with the appropriate methodology.  


The FBC is the final stage of the business case submission. The purpose and key cases to be assessed at FBC are:


  • Identify the ‘market place opportunity’ which offers optimum VFM (value for money).  Set out the negotiated commercial and contractual arrangements for the project


  • Demonstrate that the project is fully affordable.


  • Put in place the detailed management arrangements for the successful delivery of the scheme.