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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)

ProjectManager

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.

business case study mean

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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.

Free Business Case Template for Word

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.

kanban card moving into next column on the board

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.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

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.

Gantt chart from ProjectManager

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.

how writing a business case for your project is good business strategy

Transcription:

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 .

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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What is a business case and how to write one (with template)

business case study mean

In this guide, we’ll define what a business case is, help you determine when you need one (and when you don’t), and walk you through a four-step process for creating a business case.

What Is A Business Case And How To Write One (With Template)

We’ll also outline what you should include in a business case and provide a free template you can use when writing a business case to secure stakeholder support for your next big project.

What is a business case?

Every project needs the support and approval of key stakeholders before it can launch. Many project and product leaders use a project plan or charter to communicate pertinent details to those involved.

Similarly, for large initiatives that require significant resources, potential investors are presented a business case outlining the costs, benefits, business need, and risks involved.

A business case is a document that defines the value it will deliver if executed and benefits the company over the costs involved. With a thorough understanding of the components to be included and necessary resources, it is possible to create a compelling business plan.

Why do you need a business case?

If a project is green-lit without a business case, it can lead to serious issues down the road. A project without clearly articulated expectations and goals can go on endlessly and aimlessly. This leads to wasted resources, money, and time with no outcome in the end.

A business case enables you to:

Align with strategy

Gain stakeholder support, prioritize projects, track outcomes.

A business case helps to showcase how a project is aligned with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. It clearly defines the problem or opportunity that the project is intended to address.

A business case also enables you to determine expected benefits and outcomes before you start a project or initiatives, thus projecting how the project contribute to achieving the organization’s goals.

A business case is a useful tool to provide a clear rationale for pursuing the project. A thorough business case can help key stakeholders decide whether to invest in the project by evaluating the feasibility, costs, risks and potential returns. A business case presentation gives stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and address concerns.

A business case defines the value that the project is expected to deliver. Based on the value delivered by each project, business and product leaders can prioritize projects for budget cuts or further investments. Proper prioritization helps the organization achieve the goals aligned with the business strategy.

A business case provides a roadmap for the project, including the goals, milestones, and key deliverables. Once the project starts, a roadmap helps you keep track of your progress toward project goals, including what has already been achieved and what will be delivered at the end. Providing a timely update on the project to the key stakeholders is critical for setting expectations.

When you don’t need a business case

A business case is certainly helpful for large initiatives requiring support from key stakeholders, but there are some situations where creating a business case might be a waste of time.

business case study mean

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business case study mean

For instance, small or low-risk projects that would not impact the organization in any negative way do not require a business case because it would not make sense to spend that much effort on a low-scale project.

A business case might also be considered superfluous for a project that is already ongoing. It can be tempting to create a business case post-launch for the sole purpose of documenting decisions made and milestones achieved. However, it’s typically not worth the time investment because such a business case rarely adds any value or insights.

Before you take on the task of creating a business case, it’s important to carefully consider the need and to ensure that doing so would produce valuable insights to the decision-making process. It is in the best interest of everyone to forgo the business case creation process in situations where it does not provide any additional value and to focus instead on other activities that directly impact the project.

Business case vs. business plan

A business plan is not the same thing as a business case.

A business case outlines a proposed project and its potential benefits to convince key stakeholders to invest. It typically includes analysis of costs, value to be delivered, and associated risks, along with ROI.

A business plan, on the other hand, outlines the overall strategy and goals for an entire organization. It defines the what, why, and who for the business, covering the products and services offered, target segment, marketing and sales strategy, and operational and financial projections over a period of time. A business plan is designed to help potential outside investors make informed decisions about whether the business is worth investing in.

The table below breaks down the differences between a business plan and a business case:

How to write a business case

Before we dive into steps to create a business case, let’s review what we’ve learned so far:

  • A business case is a document created during the initiation of the project but is referred throughout the project lifecycle
  • A strong business case helps in building confidence and gaining support of key stakeholders
  • A business case also helps you track a project’s progress over time
  • A weak business case that is not aligned with strategy can lead to project failure

To write a business case, follow this four-step process:

  • Identify the business need
  • Explore all possible solutions
  • Propose the best approach
  • Outline the implementation process

1. Identify the business need

Projects are initiated to solve a business need and achieve a value or a benefit aligned to the goals of the organization.

The first step to create a business case is to identify the business problem and define it clearly. Market research and any available data to justify the business need is helpful to include in the business case.

2. Explore all possible solutions

Once the business problem has been identified, the next step is to explore all the possible solutions for that problem. You can do this systematically by listing out all the possible solutions along with other parameters, such as:

  • The benefits of each approach
  • Feasibility
  • Time period
  • Assumptions

A detailed analysis of each option predicting the cash flows, ROI, and value delivered would help key stakeholders understand each solution and cross-question the assumptions, feasibility, and other parameters.

3. Propose the best approach

Set a criteria to showcase how you evaluate each solution and then come up with the best out of the list.

To set the criteria, identify attributes that closely align to the organization’s strategy. For example, if the organization’s goal is to increase revenue in the next year, then an important criterion might be the solution with maximum revenue projection.

List the top three-to-five attributes to evaluate alternative solutions against and rank each solution 1–5. Once you rank all of them, total the ranks for all the attributes to indicate a clear winner.

Document this process and present it to stakeholders to ensure they are on the same page with the selection process of the best solution.

4. Outline the implementation process

Once the best solution has been proposed, the next step is to think about how it will be implemented.

When it comes to planning the implementation process, you need to define:

  • Resources needed
  • Timeline from initiation till the end
  • Risks and how to mitigate
  • Milestones and when they will be achieved
  • Total cost involved and how much will be used by when

These four steps, when captured in detail, can help you win the support of key stakeholders and kick off your project with a solid foundation and a clear objective.

What is included in a business case?

Now that we’ve walked through the steps of how to create a business case, let us also take a look at what to include in the business case document to support the four steps outlined above.

Here’s what to include in a business case:

  • Executive summary — A quick overview of the project and the topics being covered in the business case
  • Business problem — A description of the business problem and why it is important to solve it
  • Possible solutions — A list of possible solutions and how the best possible solution is identified
  • Project definition — Define the business objectives to be achieved along with general information about the project
  • Project plan — Create the project plan with key elements your team needs to accomplish to successfully achieve your project goals
  • Project scope — Clearly define what would be covered as a part of the project and what is out of scope to avoid any confusion
  • Project budget — Estimated cost involved to complete the project needs to be captured with a detailed breakdown
  • Project roadmap — Projection of the estimated timeline for each stage of the project to be done. Be sure to include any important project milestones
  • Project financials — Financial metrics depicting the cash flow, such as NPV, IRR, ROI, and payback period to help stakeholders understand the financial value the project can bring in over a period of time
  • Risk assessment — Capture the risks involved and the steps planned to mitigate the risks
  • Project stakeholders — A list of key stakeholders involved can help anyone looking at the document to reach out to them when needed. The list can include the project team, sponsoring executives, and any external stakeholders who might be involved

Business case template

To help you get started writing a business case for your next big project or initiative, we created a business case template that you can download and customize for free.

Business Case Template

You can access this simple business case template by clicking here (be sure to select File > Make a copy from the main menu bar before editing the template).

Preparing the business case is only half the journey of initiating a project. The next step is to present the business plan to key stakeholders , answer their queries, and compel them to support the project.

Lastly, be sure to follow up with the attendees to make sure all the stakeholders are on the same page and aligned to support the project.

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  • The beginner’s guide to writing an effe ...

The beginner’s guide to writing an effective business case

Julia Martins contributor headshot

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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  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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business case study mean

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template

Braden Becker

Published: November 30, 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.

company conducting case study with candidate after learning how to write a case study

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.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

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.

business case study mean

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

case study templates: general

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

case study templates: bold social media business

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

case study templates: lead generation business

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.

Product Knowledge

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.

Remarkable Results

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.

Recognizable Names

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.

Brand Exposure

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.

Employee Exposure

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.

Product Discount

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:

sample case study email release form template

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.

The Acceptance

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.

The Questionnaire

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.

The Interview

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.

case study format: title

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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.

2. Subtitle

case study format: subtitle

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

case study format: 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

case study format: 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.

case study format: storytelling about the business

5. Challenges and Objectives

case study format: 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

case study format: how the 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.

case study format: results

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

case study format: quote

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)

case study format: call to action

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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What Is a Case Study and Why You Should Use Them

Case studies can provide more insights into your business while helping you conduct further research with robust qualitative data analysis to learn more.

If you're in charge of running a company, then you're likely always looking for new ways to run your business more efficiently and increase your customer base while streamlining as many processes as possible.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to determine how to go about implementing the proper program in order to be successful. This is why many business owners opt to conduct a case study, which can help significantly. Whether you've been struggling with brand consistency or some other problem, the right case study can identify why your problem exists as well as provide a way to rectify it.

A case study is a great tool that many businesses aren't even aware exists, and there are marketing experts like Mailchimp who can provide you with step-by-step assistance with implementing a plan with a case study. Many companies discover that not only do they need to start a blog in order to improve business, but they also need to create specific and relevant blog titles.

If your company already has a blog, then optimizing your blog posts may be helpful. Regardless of the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving all your professional goals, a case study can work wonders in helping you reverse this issue.

business case study mean

What is a case study?

A case study is a comprehensive report of the results of theory testing or examining emerging themes of a business in real life context. Case studies are also often used in the healthcare industry, conducting health services research with primary research interest around routinely collected healthcare data.

However, for businesses, the purpose of a case study is to help small business owners or company leaders identify the issues and conduct further research into what may be preventing success through information collection, client or customer interviews, and in-depth data analysis.

Knowing the case study definition is crucial for any business owner. By identifying the issues that are hindering a company from achieving all its goals, it's easier to make the necessary corrections to promote success through influenced data collection.

Why are case studies important?

Now that we've answered the questions, "what is a case study?" Why are case studies important? Some of the top reasons why case studies are important include:

 Importance of case studies

  • Understand complex issues: Even after you conduct a significant amount of market research , you might have a difficult time understanding exactly what it means. While you might have the basics down, conducting a case study can help you see how that information is applied. Then, when you see how the information can make a difference in business decisions, it could make it easier to understand complex issues.
  • Collect data: A case study can also help with data tracking . A case study is a data collection method that can help you describe the information that you have available to you. Then, you can present that information in a way the reader can understand.
  • Conduct evaluations: As you learn more about how to write a case study, remember that you can also use a case study to conduct evaluations of a specific situation. A case study is a great way to learn more about complex situations, and you can evaluate how various people responded in that situation. By conducting a case study evaluation, you can learn more about what has worked well, what has not, and what you might want to change in the future.
  • Identify potential solutions: A case study can also help you identify solutions to potential problems. If you have an issue in your business that you are trying to solve, you may be able to take a look at a case study where someone has dealt with a similar situation in the past. For example, you may uncover data bias in a specific solution that you would like to address when you tackle the issue on your own. If you need help solving a difficult problem, a case study may be able to help you.

Remember that you can also use case studies to target your audience . If you want to show your audience that you have a significant level of expertise in a field, you may want to publish some case studies that you have handled in the past. Then, when your audience sees that you have had success in a specific area, they may be more likely to provide you with their business. In essence, case studies can be looked at as the original method of social proof, showcasing exactly how you can help someone solve their problems.

What are the benefits of writing a business case study?

Although writing a case study can seem like a tedious task, there are many benefits to conducting one through an in depth qualitative research process.

Benefits of Case Studies

  • Industry understanding: First of all, a case study can give you an in-depth understanding of your industry through a particular conceptual framework and help you identify hidden problems that are preventing you from transcending into the business world.
  • Develop theories: If you decide to write a business case study, it provides you with an opportunity to develop new theories. You might have a theory about how to solve a specific problem, but you need to write a business case study to see exactly how that theory has unfolded in the past. Then, you can figure out if you want to apply your theory to a similar issue in the future.
  • Evaluate interventions: When you write a business case study that focuses on a specific situation you have been through in the past, you can uncover whether that intervention was truly helpful. This can make it easier to figure out whether you want to use the same intervention in a similar situation in the future.
  • Identify best practices: If you want to stay on top of the best practices in your field, conducting case studies can help by allowing you to identify patterns and trends and develop a new list of best practices that you can follow in the future.
  • Versatility: Writing a case study also provides you with more versatility. If you want to expand your business applications, you need to figure out how you respond to various problems. When you run a business case study, you open the door to new opportunities, new applications, and new techniques that could help you make a difference in your business down the road.
  • Solve problems: Writing a great case study can dramatically improve your chances of reversing your problem and improving your business.
  • These are just a few of the biggest benefits you might experience if you decide to publish your case studies. They can be an effective tool for learning, showcasing your talents, and teaching some of your other employees. If you want to grow your audience , you may want to consider publishing some case studies.

What are the limitations of case studies?

Case studies can be a wonderful tool for any business of any size to use to gain an in-depth understanding of their clients, products, customers, or services, but there are limitations.

One limitation of case studies is the fact that, unless there are other recently published examples, there is nothing to compare them to since, most of the time, you are conducting a single, not multiple, case studies.

Another limitation is the fact that most case studies can lack scientific evidence.

business case study mean

Types of case studies

There are specific types of case studies to choose from, and each specific type will yield different results. Some case study types even overlap, which is sometimes more favorable, as they provide even more pertinent data.

Here are overviews of the different types of case studies, each with its own theoretical framework, so you can determine which type would be most effective for helping you meet your goals.

Explanatory case studies

Explanatory case studies are pretty straightforward, as they're not difficult to interpret. This type of case study is best if there aren't many variables involved because explanatory case studies can easily answer questions like "how" and "why" through theory development.

Exploratory case studies

An exploratory case study does exactly what its name implies: it goes into specific detail about the topic at hand in a natural, real-life context with qualitative research.

The benefits of exploratory case studies are limitless, with the main one being that it offers a great deal of flexibility. Having flexibility when writing a case study is important because you can't always predict what obstacles might arise during the qualitative research process.

Collective case studies

Collective case studies require you to study many different individuals in order to obtain usable data.

Case studies that involve an investigation of people will involve many different variables, all of which can't be predicted. Despite this fact, there are many benefits of collective case studies, including the fact that it allows an ongoing analysis of the data collected.

Intrinsic case studies

This type of study differs from the others as it focuses on the inquiry of one specific instance among many possibilities.

Many people prefer these types of case studies because it allows them to learn about the particular instance that they wish to investigate further.

Instrumental case studies

An instrumental case study is similar to an intrinsic one, as it focuses on a particular instance, whether it's a person, organization, or something different.

One thing that differentiates instrumental case studies from intrinsic ones is the fact that instrumental case studies aren't chosen merely because a person is interested in learning about a specific instance.

business case study mean

Tips for writing a case study

If you have decided to write case studies for your company, then you may be unsure of where to start or which type to conduct.

However, it doesn't have to be difficult or confusing to begin conducting a case study that will help you identify ways to improve your business.

Here are some helpful tips for writing your case studies:

1. Your case study must be written in the proper format

When writing a case study, the format that you should be similar to this:

Case study format

Administrative summary

The executive summary is an overview of what your report will contain, written in a concise manner while providing real-life context.

Despite the fact that the executive summary should appear at the beginning of your case studies, it shouldn't be written until you've completed the entire report because if you write it before you finish the report, this summary may not be completely accurate.

Key problem statement

In this section of your case study, you will briefly describe the problem that you hope to solve by conducting the study. You will have the opportunity to elaborate on the problem that you're focusing on as you get into the breadth of the report.

Problem exploration

This part of the case study isn't as brief as the other two, and it goes into more detail about the problem at hand. Your problem exploration must include why the identified problem needs to be solved as well as the urgency of solving it.

Additionally, it must include justification for conducting the problem-solving, as the benefits must outweigh the efforts and costs.

Proposed resolution

This case study section will also be lengthier than the first two. It must include how you propose going about rectifying the problem. The "recommended solution" section must also include potential obstacles that you might experience, as well as how these will be managed.

Furthermore, you will need to list alternative solutions and explain the reason the chosen solution is best. Charts can enhance your report and make it easier to read, and provide as much proof to substantiate your claim as possible.

Overview of monetary consideration

An overview of monetary consideration is essential for all case studies, as it will be used to convince all involved parties why your project should be funded. You must successfully convince them that the cost is worth the investment it will require. It's important that you stress the necessity for this particular case study and explain the expected outcome.

Execution timeline

In the execution times of case studies, you explain how long you predict it will take to implement your study. The shorter the time it will take to implement your plan, the more apt it is to be approved. However, be sure to provide a reasonable timeline, taking into consideration any additional time that might be needed due to obstacles.

Always include a conclusion in your case study. This is where you will briefly wrap up your entire proposal, stressing the benefits of completing the data collection and data analysis in order to rectify your problem.

2. Make it clear and comprehensive

You want to write your case studies with as much clarity as possible so that every aspect of the report is understood. Be sure to double-check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and more, as you don't want to submit a poorly-written document.

Not only would a poorly-written case study fail to prove that what you are trying to achieve is important, but it would also increase the chances that your report will be tossed aside and not taken seriously.

3. Don't rush through the process

Writing the perfect case study takes time and patience. Rushing could result in your forgetting to include information that is crucial to your entire study. Don't waste your time creating a study that simply isn't ready. Take the necessary time to perform all the research necessary to write the best case study possible.

Depending on the case study, conducting case study research could mean using qualitative methods, quantitative methods, or both. Qualitative research questions focus on non-numerical data, such as how people feel, their beliefs, their experiences, and so on.

Meanwhile, quantitative research questions focus on numerical or statistical data collection to explain causal links or get an in-depth picture.

It is also important to collect insightful and constructive feedback. This will help you better understand the outcome as well as any changes you need to make to future case studies. Consider using formal and informal ways to collect feedback to ensure that you get a range of opinions and perspectives.

4. Be confident in your theory development

While writing your case study or conducting your formal experimental investigation, you should have confidence in yourself and what you're proposing in your report. If you took the time to gather all the pertinent data collected to complete the report, don't second-guess yourself or doubt your abilities. If you believe your report will be amazing, then it likely will be.

5. Case studies and all qualitative research are long

It's expected that multiple case studies are going to be incredibly boring, and there is no way around this. However, it doesn't mean you can choose your language carefully in order to keep your audience as engaged as possible.

If your audience loses interest in your case study at the beginning, for whatever reason, then this increases the likelihood that your case study will not be funded.

Case study examples

If you want to learn more about how to write a case study, it might be beneficial to take a look at a few case study examples. Below are a few interesting case study examples you may want to take a closer look at.

  • Phineas Gage by John Martin Marlow : One of the most famous case studies comes from the medical field, and it is about the story of Phineas Gage, a man who had a railroad spike driven through his head in 1848. As he was working on a railroad, an explosive charge went off prematurely, sending a railroad rod through his head. Even though he survived this incident, he lost his left eye. However, Phineas Gage was studied extensively over the years because his experiences had a significant, lasting impact on his personality. This served as a case study because his injury showed different parts of the brain have different functions.
  • Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect : This is a tragic case study that discusses the murder of Kitty Genovese, a woman attacked and murdered in Queens, New York City. Shockingly, while numerous neighbors watched the scene, nobody called for help because they assumed someone else would. This case study helped to define the bystander effect, which is when a person fails to intervene during an emergency because other people are around.
  • Henry Molaison and the study of memory : Henry Molaison lost his memory and suffered from debilitating amnesia. He suffered from childhood epilepsy, and medical professionals attempted to remove the part of his brain that was causing his seizures. He had a portion of his brain removed, but it completely took away his ability to hold memories. Even though he went on to live until the age of 82, he was always forced to live in the present moment, as he was completely unable to form new memories.

Case study FAQs

When should you do a case study.

There are several scenarios when conducting a case study can be beneficial. Case studies are often used when there's a "why" or "how" question that needs to be answered. Case studies are also beneficial when trying to understand a complex phenomenon, there's limited research on a topic, or when you're looking for practical solutions to a problem.

How can case study results be used to make business decisions?

You can use the results from a case study to make future business decisions if you find yourself in a similar situation. As you assess the results of a case study, you can identify best practices, evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention, generate new and creative ideas, or get a better understanding of customer needs.

How are case studies different from other research methodologies?

When compared to other research methodologies, such as experimental or qualitative research methodology, a case study does not require a representative sample. For example, if you are performing quantitative research, you have a lot of subjects that expand your sample size. If you are performing experimental research, you may have a random sample in front of you. A case study is usually designed to deliberately focus on unusual situations, which allows it to shed new light on a specific business research problem.

Writing multiple case studies for your business

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of writing a case study and it seems completely foreign, then you aren't alone. Writing a case study for a business is a very big deal, but fortunately, there is help available because an example of a case study doesn't always help.

Mailchimp, a well-known marketing company that provides comprehensive marketing support for all sorts of businesses, can assist you with your case study, or you can review one of their own recently published examples.

Mailchimp can assist you with developing the most effective content strategy to increase your chances of being as successful as possible. Mailchimp's content studio is a great tool that can help your business immensely.

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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

  • Nitin Nohria

business case study mean

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

  • Nitin Nohria is the George F. Baker Jr. Professor at Harvard Business School and the former dean of HBS.

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How to Write and Format a Business Case Study

Case Study Structure, Format and Components

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Business case studies are teaching tools that are used by many business schools, colleges, universities, and corporate training programs. This method of teaching is known as the case method . Most business case studies are written by educators, executives or heavily educated business consultants. However, there are times when students are asked to conduct and write their own business case studies. For example, students may be asked to create a case study as a final assignment or group project. Student-created case studies may even be used as a teaching tool or a basis for class discussion.

Writing a Business Case Study

When you write a case study, you must write with the reader in mind. The case study should be set up so that the reader is forced to analyze situations, draw conclusions, and make recommendations based on their predictions. If you aren't overly familiar with case studies, you may be wondering how to best organize your writing. To help you get started, let's take a look at the most common ways to structure and format a business case study. 

Case Study Structure and Format

Although every business case study is a little different, there are a few elements that every case study has in common. Every case study has an original title. Titles vary but usually include the name of the company as well as a little info about the case scenario in ten words or less. Examples of real case study titles include Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple and Starbucks: Delivering Customer Service.

All cases are written with a learning objective in mind. The objective might be designed to impart knowledge, build a skill, challenge the learner, or develop an ability. After reading and analyzing the case, the student should know about something or be able to do something. An example objective might look like this:

After analyzing the case study, the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge of approaches to marketing segmentation, differentiate between potential core customer bases and recommend a brand positioning strategy for XYZ's newest product.

Most case studies assume a story-like format. They often have a protagonist with an important goal or decision to make. The narrative is usually weaved throughout the study, which also includes sufficient background information about the company, situation, and essential people or elements. There should be enough detail to allow the reader to form an educated assumption and make an informed decision about the questions (usually two to five questions) presented in the case.

The Case Study Protagonist

Case studies should have a protagonist that needs to make a decision. This forces the case reader to assume the role of the protagonist and make choices from a particular perspective. An example of a case study protagonist is a branding manager who has two months to decide on a positioning strategy for a new product that could financially make or break the company. When writing the case, it is important to ensure that your protagonist is developed and compelling enough to engage the reader. 

The Case Study Narrative/Situation

The narrative of a case study starts with an introduction to the protagonist, her role and responsibilities, and the situation/scenario that she is facing. Information is provided on the decisions the protagonist needs to make. Details include challenges and constraints related to the decision (such as a deadline) as well as any biases the protagonist might have.

The next section offers up background information on the company and its business model, industry and competitors. The case study then covers challenges and issues faced by the protagonist as well as the consequences associated with the decision that the protagonist needs to make. Exhibits and extra documents, like financial statements, might be included in the case study to help students reach a decision about the best course of action. 

The Deciding Point

The conclusion of a case study returns to the main question or problem that must be analyzed and solved by the protagonist. Case study readers are expected to step into the role of the protagonist and answer the question or questions presented in the case studies. In most cases, there are multiple ways to answer the case question, which allows for classroom discussion and debate. 

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How to Write a Case Study: The Compelling Step-by-Step Guide

How to write a case study the compelling step by step guide

Is there a poignant pain point that needs to be addressed in your company or industry? Do you have a possible solution but want to test your theory? Why not turn this drive into a transformative learning experience and an opportunity to produce a high-quality business case study? However, before that occurs, you may wonder how to write a case study.

You may also be thinking about why you should produce one at all. Did you know that case studies are impactful and the fifth most used type of content in marketing , despite being more resource-intensive to produce?

Below, we’ll delve into what a case study is, its benefits, and how to approach business case study writing:

Definition of a Written case study and its Purpose

A case study is a research method that involves a detailed and comprehensive examination of a specific real-life situation. It’s often used in various fields, including business, education, economics, and sociology, to understand a complex issue better. 

It typically includes an in-depth analysis of the subject and an examination of its context and background information, incorporating data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and existing literature. 

The ultimate aim is to provide a rich and detailed account of a situation to identify patterns and relationships, generate new insights and understanding, illustrate theories, or test hypotheses.

Importance of Business Case Study Writing

As such an in-depth exploration into a subject with potentially far-reaching consequences, a case study has benefits to offer various stakeholders in the organisation leading it.

  • Business Founders: Use business case study writing to highlight real-life examples of companies or individuals who have benefited from their products or services, providing potential customers with a tangible demonstration of the value their business can bring. It can be effective for attracting new clients or investors by showcasing thought leadership and building trust and credibility.
  • Marketers through case studies and encourage them to take action: Marketers use a case studies writer to showcase the success of a particular product, service, or marketing campaign. They can use persuasive storytelling to engage the reader, whether it’s consumers, clients, or potential partners.
  • Researchers: They allow researchers to gain insight into real-world scenarios, explore a variety of perspectives, and develop a nuanced understanding of the factors that contribute to success or failure. Additionally, case studies provide practical business recommendations and help build a body of knowledge in a particular field.

How to Write a Case Study – The Key Elements 

How to Write a Case Study – The Key Elements

Considering how to write a case study can seem overwhelming at first. However, looking at it in terms of its constituent parts will help you to get started, focus on the key issue(s), and execute it efficiently and effectively.

Problem or Challenge Statement

A problem statement concisely describes a specific issue or problem that a written case study aims to address. It sets the stage for the rest of the case study and provides context for the reader. 

Here are some steps to help you write a case study problem statement:

  • Identify the problem or issue that the case study will focus on.
  • Research the problem to better understand its context, causes, and effects.
  • Define the problem clearly and concisely. Be specific and avoid generalisations.
  • State the significance of the problem: Explain why the issue is worth solving. Consider the impact it has on the individual, organisation, or industry.
  • Provide background information that will help the reader understand the context of the problem.
  • Keep it concise: A problem statement should be brief and to the point. Avoid going into too much detail – leave this for the body of the case study!

Here is an example of a problem statement for a case study:

“ The XYZ Company is facing a problem with declining sales and increasing customer complaints. Despite improving the customer experience, the company has yet to reverse the trend . This case study will examine the causes of the problem and propose solutions to improve sales and customer satisfaction. “

Solutions and interventions

Here are some steps to help you write a case study solution or intervention

Business case study writing provides a solution or intervention that identifies the best course of action to address the problem or issue described in the problem statement. 

Here are some steps to help you write a case study solution or intervention:

  • Identify the objective , which should be directly related to the problem statement.
  • Analyse the data, which could include data from interviews, observations, and existing literature.
  • Evaluate alternatives that have been proposed or implemented in similar situations, considering their strengths, weaknesses, and impact.
  • Choose the best solution based on the objective and data analysis. Remember to consider factors such as feasibility, cost, and potential impact.
  • Justify the solution by explaining how it addresses the problem and why it’s the best solution with supportive evidence.
  • Provide a detailed, step-by-step plan of action that considers the resources required, timeline, and expected outcomes.

Example of a solution or intervention for a case study:

“ To address the problem of declining sales and increasing customer complaints at the XYZ Company, we propose a comprehensive customer experience improvement program. “

“ This program will involve the following steps:

  • Conducting customer surveys to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement
  • Implementing training programs for employees to improve customer service skills
  • Revising the company’s product offerings to meet customer needs better
  • Implementing a customer loyalty program to encourage repeat business “

“ These steps will improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. We expect a 10% increase in sales within the first year of implementation, based on similar programs implemented by other companies in the industry. “

Possible Results and outcomes

Writing case study results and outcomes

Writing case study results and outcomes involves presenting the impact of the proposed solution or intervention. 

Here are some steps to help you write case study results and outcomes:

  • Evaluate the solution by measuring its effectiveness in addressing the problem statement. That could involve collecting data, conducting surveys, or monitoring key performance indicators.
  • Present the results clearly and concisely, using graphs, charts, and tables to represent the data where applicable visually. Be sure to include both quantitative and qualitative results.
  • Compare the results to the expectations set in the solution or intervention section. Explain any discrepancies and why they occurred.
  • Discuss the outcomes and impact of the solution, considering the benefits and drawbacks and what lessons can be learned.
  • Provide recommendations for future action based on the results. For example, what changes should be made to improve the solution, or what additional steps should be taken?

Example of results and outcomes for a case study:

“ The customer experience improvement program implemented at the XYZ Company was successful. We found significant improvement in employee health and productivity. The program, which included on-site exercise classes and healthy food options, led to a 25% decrease in employee absenteeism and a 15% increase in productivity . “

“ Employee satisfaction with the program was high, with 90% reporting an improved work-life balance. Despite initial costs, the program proved to be cost-effective in the long run, with decreased healthcare costs and increased employee retention. The company plans to continue the program and explore expanding it to other offices .”

Case Study Key takeaways

Key takeaways are the most important and relevant insights and lessons

Key takeaways are the most important and relevant insights and lessons that can be drawn from a case study. Key takeaways can help readers understand the most significant outcomes and impacts of the solution or intervention. 

Here are some steps to help you write case study key takeaways:

  • Summarise the problem that was addressed and the solution that was proposed.
  • Highlight the most significant results from the case study.
  • Identify the key insights and lessons , including what makes the case study unique and relevant to others.
  • Consider the broader implications of the outcomes for the industry or field.
  • Present the key takeaways clearly and concisely , using bullet points or a list format to make the information easy to understand.

Example of key takeaways for a case study:

  • The customer experience improvement program at XYZ Company successfully increased customer satisfaction and sales.
  • Employee training and product development were critical components of the program’s success.
  • The program resulted in a 20% increase in repeat business, demonstrating the value of a customer loyalty program.
  • Despite some initial challenges, the program proved cost-effective in the long run.
  • The case study results demonstrate the importance of investing in customer experience to improve business outcomes.

Steps for a Case Study Writer to Follow

Steps for a Case Study Writer to Follow

If you still feel lost, the good news is as a case studies writer; there is a blueprint you can follow to complete your work. It may be helpful at first to proceed step-by-step and let your research and analysis guide the process:

  • Select a suitable case study subject: Ask yourself what the purpose of the business case study is. Is it to illustrate a specific problem and solution, showcase a success story, or demonstrate best practices in a particular field? Based on this, you can select a suitable subject by researching and evaluating various options.
  • Research and gather information: We have already covered this in detail above. However, always ensure all data is relevant, valid, and comes from credible sources. Research is the crux of your written case study, and you can’t compromise on its quality.
  • Develop a clear and concise problem statement: Follow the guide above, and don’t rush to finalise it. It will set the tone and lay the foundation for the entire study.
  • Detail the solution or intervention: Follow the steps above to detail your proposed solution or intervention.
  • Present the results and outcomes: Remember that a case study is an unbiased test of how effectively a particular solution addresses an issue. Not all case studies are meant to end in a resounding success. You can often learn more from a loss than a win.
  • Include key takeaways and conclusions: Follow the steps above to detail your proposed business case study solution or intervention.

Tips for How to Write a Case Study

Here are some bonus tips for how to write a case study. These tips will help improve the quality of your work and the impact it will have on readers:

  • Use a storytelling format: Just because a case study is research-based doesn’t mean it has to be boring and detached. Telling a story will engage readers and help them better identify with the problem statement and see the value in the outcomes. Framing it as a narrative in a real-world context will make it more relatable and memorable.
  • Include quotes and testimonials from stakeholders: This will add credibility and depth to your written case study. It also helps improve engagement and will give your written work an emotional impact.
  • Use visuals and graphics to support your narrative: Humans are better at processing visually presented data than endless walls of black-on-white text. Visual aids will make it easier to grasp key concepts and make your case study more engaging and enjoyable. It breaks up the text and allows readers to identify key findings and highlights quickly.
  • Edit and revise your case study for clarity and impact: As a long and involved project, it can be easy to lose your narrative while in the midst of it. Multiple rounds of editing are vital to ensure your narrative holds, that your message gets across, and that your spelling and grammar are correct, of course!

Our Final Thoughts

A written case study can be a powerful tool in your writing arsenal. It’s a great way to showcase your knowledge in a particular business vertical, industry, or situation. Not only is it an effective way to build authority and engage an audience, but also to explore an important problem and the possible solutions to it. It’s a win-win, even if the proposed solution doesn’t have the outcome you expect. So now that you know more about how to write a case study, try it or talk to us for further guidance.

Are you ready to write your own case study?

Begin by bookmarking this article, so you can come back to it. And for more writing advice and support, read our resource guides  and  blog content . If you are unsure, please reach out with questions, and we will provide the answers or assistance you need.

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How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools

business case study mean

It’s a marketer’s job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving. One of the best methods for doing this is to share success stories that are relatable to prospects and customers based on their pain points, experiences, and overall needs.

That’s where case studies come in. Case studies are an essential part of a content marketing plan. These in-depth stories of customer experiences are some of the most effective at demonstrating the value of a product or service. Yet many marketers don’t use them, whether because of their regimented formats or the process of customer involvement and approval.

A case study is a powerful tool for showcasing your hard work and the success your customer achieved. But writing a great case study can be difficult if you’ve never done it before or if it’s been a while. This guide will show you how to write an effective case study and provide real-world examples and templates that will keep readers engaged and support your business.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a case study?

How to write a case study, case study templates, case study examples, case study tools.

A case study is the detailed story of a customer’s experience with a product or service that demonstrates their success and often includes measurable outcomes. Case studies are used in a range of fields and for various reasons, from business to academic research. They’re especially impactful in marketing as brands work to convince and convert consumers with relatable, real-world stories of actual customer experiences.

The best case studies tell the story of a customer’s success, including the steps they took, the results they achieved, and the support they received from a brand along the way. To write a great case study, you need to:

  • Celebrate the customer and make them — not a product or service — the star of the story.
  • Craft the story with specific audiences or target segments in mind so that the story of one customer will be viewed as relatable and actionable for another customer.
  • Write copy that is easy to read and engaging so that readers will gain the insights and messages intended.
  • Follow a standardized format that includes all of the essentials a potential customer would find interesting and useful.
  • Support all of the claims for success made in the story with data in the forms of hard numbers and customer statements.

Case studies are a type of review but more in depth, aiming to show — rather than just tell — the positive experiences that customers have with a brand. Notably, 89% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy, and 79% view case study content as part of their purchasing process. When it comes to B2B sales, 52% of buyers rank case studies as an important part of their evaluation process.

Telling a brand story through the experience of a tried-and-true customer matters. The story is relatable to potential new customers as they imagine themselves in the shoes of the company or individual featured in the case study. Showcasing previous customers can help new ones see themselves engaging with your brand in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

Besides sharing the perspective of another customer, case studies stand out from other content marketing forms because they are based on evidence. Whether pulling from client testimonials or data-driven results, case studies tend to have more impact on new business because the story contains information that is both objective (data) and subjective (customer experience) — and the brand doesn’t sound too self-promotional.

89% of consumers read reviews before buying, 79% view case studies, and 52% of B2B buyers prioritize case studies in the evaluation process.

Case studies are unique in that there’s a fairly standardized format for telling a customer’s story. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. It’s all about making sure that teams are clear on the goals for the case study — along with strategies for supporting content and channels — and understanding how the story fits within the framework of the company’s overall marketing goals.

Here are the basic steps to writing a good case study.

1. Identify your goal

Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

The answer is often found in one of the buyer personas that have been constructed as part of your larger marketing strategy. This can include anything from new leads generated by the marketing team to long-term customers that are being pressed for cross-sell opportunities. In all of these cases, demonstrating value through a relatable customer success story can be part of the solution to conversion.

2. Choose your client or subject

Who you highlight matters. Case studies tie brands together that might otherwise not cross paths. A writer will want to ensure that the highlighted customer aligns with their own company’s brand identity and offerings. Look for a customer with positive name recognition who has had great success with a product or service and is willing to be an advocate.

The client should also match up with the identified target audience. Whichever company or individual is selected should be a reflection of other potential customers who can see themselves in similar circumstances, having the same problems and possible solutions.

Some of the most compelling case studies feature customers who:

  • Switch from one product or service to another while naming competitors that missed the mark.
  • Experience measurable results that are relatable to others in a specific industry.
  • Represent well-known brands and recognizable names that are likely to compel action.
  • Advocate for a product or service as a champion and are well-versed in its advantages.

Whoever or whatever customer is selected, marketers must ensure they have the permission of the company involved before getting started. Some brands have strict review and approval procedures for any official marketing or promotional materials that include their name. Acquiring those approvals in advance will prevent any miscommunication or wasted effort if there is an issue with their legal or compliance teams.

3. Conduct research and compile data

Substantiating the claims made in a case study — either by the marketing team or customers themselves — adds validity to the story. To do this, include data and feedback from the client that defines what success looks like. This can be anything from demonstrating return on investment (ROI) to a specific metric the customer was striving to improve. Case studies should prove how an outcome was achieved and show tangible results that indicate to the customer that your solution is the right one.

This step could also include customer interviews. Make sure that the people being interviewed are key stakeholders in the purchase decision or deployment and use of the product or service that is being highlighted. Content writers should work off a set list of questions prepared in advance. It can be helpful to share these with the interviewees beforehand so they have time to consider and craft their responses. One of the best interview tactics to keep in mind is to ask questions where yes and no are not natural answers. This way, your subject will provide more open-ended responses that produce more meaningful content.

4. Choose the right format

There are a number of different ways to format a case study. Depending on what you hope to achieve, one style will be better than another. However, there are some common elements to include, such as:

  • An engaging headline
  • A subject and customer introduction
  • The unique challenge or challenges the customer faced
  • The solution the customer used to solve the problem
  • The results achieved
  • Data and statistics to back up claims of success
  • A strong call to action (CTA) to engage with the vendor

It’s also important to note that while case studies are traditionally written as stories, they don’t have to be in a written format. Some companies choose to get more creative with their case studies and produce multimedia content, depending on their audience and objectives. Case study formats can include traditional print stories, interactive web or social content, data-heavy infographics, professionally shot videos, podcasts, and more.

5. Write your case study

We’ll go into more detail later about how exactly to write a case study, including templates and examples. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your case study.

  • Be clear and concise. Readers want to get to the point of the story quickly and easily, and they’ll be looking to see themselves reflected in the story right from the start.
  • Provide a big picture. Always make sure to explain who the client is, their goals, and how they achieved success in a short introduction to engage the reader.
  • Construct a clear narrative. Stick to the story from the perspective of the customer and what they needed to solve instead of just listing product features or benefits.
  • Leverage graphics. Incorporating infographics, charts, and sidebars can be a more engaging and eye-catching way to share key statistics and data in readable ways.
  • Offer the right amount of detail. Most case studies are one or two pages with clear sections that a reader can skim to find the information most important to them.
  • Include data to support claims. Show real results — both facts and figures and customer quotes — to demonstrate credibility and prove the solution works.

6. Promote your story

Marketers have a number of options for distribution of a freshly minted case study. Many brands choose to publish case studies on their website and post them on social media. This can help support SEO and organic content strategies while also boosting company credibility and trust as visitors see that other businesses have used the product or service.

Marketers are always looking for quality content they can use for lead generation. Consider offering a case study as gated content behind a form on a landing page or as an offer in an email message. One great way to do this is to summarize the content and tease the full story available for download after the user takes an action.

Sales teams can also leverage case studies, so be sure they are aware that the assets exist once they’re published. Especially when it comes to larger B2B sales, companies often ask for examples of similar customer challenges that have been solved.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about case studies and what they should include, you may be wondering how to start creating great customer story content. Here are a couple of templates you can use to structure your case study.

Template 1 — Challenge-solution-result format

  • Start with an engaging title. This should be fewer than 70 characters long for SEO best practices. One of the best ways to approach the title is to include the customer’s name and a hint at the challenge they overcame in the end.
  • Create an introduction. Lead with an explanation as to who the customer is, the need they had, and the opportunity they found with a specific product or solution. Writers can also suggest the success the customer experienced with the solution they chose.
  • Present the challenge. This should be several paragraphs long and explain the problem the customer faced and the issues they were trying to solve. Details should tie into the company’s products and services naturally. This section needs to be the most relatable to the reader so they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
  • Share the solution. Explain which product or service offered was the ideal fit for the customer and why. Feel free to delve into their experience setting up, purchasing, and onboarding the solution.
  • Explain the results. Demonstrate the impact of the solution they chose by backing up their positive experience with data. Fill in with customer quotes and tangible, measurable results that show the effect of their choice.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that invites readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to nurture them further in the marketing pipeline. What you ask of the reader should tie directly into the goals that were established for the case study in the first place.

Template 2 — Data-driven format

  • Start with an engaging title. Be sure to include a statistic or data point in the first 70 characters. Again, it’s best to include the customer’s name as part of the title.
  • Create an overview. Share the customer’s background and a short version of the challenge they faced. Present the reason a particular product or service was chosen, and feel free to include quotes from the customer about their selection process.
  • Present data point 1. Isolate the first metric that the customer used to define success and explain how the product or solution helped to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 2. Isolate the second metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 3. Isolate the final metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Summarize the results. Reiterate the fact that the customer was able to achieve success thanks to a specific product or service. Include quotes and statements that reflect customer satisfaction and suggest they plan to continue using the solution.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that asks readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to further nurture them in the marketing pipeline. Again, remember that this is where marketers can look to convert their content into action with the customer.

While templates are helpful, seeing a case study in action can also be a great way to learn. Here are some examples of how Adobe customers have experienced success.

Juniper Networks

One example is the Adobe and Juniper Networks case study , which puts the reader in the customer’s shoes. The beginning of the story quickly orients the reader so that they know exactly who the article is about and what they were trying to achieve. Solutions are outlined in a way that shows Adobe Experience Manager is the best choice and a natural fit for the customer. Along the way, quotes from the client are incorporated to help add validity to the statements. The results in the case study are conveyed with clear evidence of scale and volume using tangible data.

A Lenovo case study showing statistics, a pull quote and featured headshot, the headline "The customer is king.," and Adobe product links.

The story of Lenovo’s journey with Adobe is one that spans years of planning, implementation, and rollout. The Lenovo case study does a great job of consolidating all of this into a relatable journey that other enterprise organizations can see themselves taking, despite the project size. This case study also features descriptive headers and compelling visual elements that engage the reader and strengthen the content.

Tata Consulting

When it comes to using data to show customer results, this case study does an excellent job of conveying details and numbers in an easy-to-digest manner. Bullet points at the start break up the content while also helping the reader understand exactly what the case study will be about. Tata Consulting used Adobe to deliver elevated, engaging content experiences for a large telecommunications client of its own — an objective that’s relatable for a lot of companies.

Case studies are a vital tool for any marketing team as they enable you to demonstrate the value of your company’s products and services to others. They help marketers do their job and add credibility to a brand trying to promote its solutions by using the experiences and stories of real customers.

When you’re ready to get started with a case study:

  • Think about a few goals you’d like to accomplish with your content.
  • Make a list of successful clients that would be strong candidates for a case study.
  • Reach out to the client to get their approval and conduct an interview.
  • Gather the data to present an engaging and effective customer story.

Adobe can help

There are several Adobe products that can help you craft compelling case studies. Adobe Experience Platform helps you collect data and deliver great customer experiences across every channel. Once you’ve created your case studies, Experience Platform will help you deliver the right information to the right customer at the right time for maximum impact.

To learn more, watch the Adobe Experience Platform story .

Keep in mind that the best case studies are backed by data. That’s where Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform and Adobe Analytics come into play. With Real-Time CDP, you can gather the data you need to build a great case study and target specific customers to deliver the content to the right audience at the perfect moment.

Watch the Real-Time CDP overview video to learn more.

Finally, Adobe Analytics turns real-time data into real-time insights. It helps your business collect and synthesize data from multiple platforms to make more informed decisions and create the best case study possible.

Request a demo to learn more about Adobe Analytics.

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/b2b-ecommerce-10-case-studies-inspire-you

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/business-case

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/what-is-real-time-analytics

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business case study mean

What is a business case study?

Explanation, tips, and advice on writing a response to a business case study when applying to Geneva Business School

When you apply to Geneva Business School to undertake a bachelor’s, master’s, or MBA program, you will be asked to write a 500-word written response to a business case study .

Business case studies explained

A business case study summarizes a real-life business issue faced by a company and looks at how it may affect society within a business context. A case study is a research tool and can form part of the research methods you will use in your final projects in our programs.

Here are examples of the cases you are required to write about for the application process:

  • Bachelor’s program
  • Master’s or MBA

Answering a business case study is an opportunity to improve your writing skills by applying theory to a real situation , analyzing the scenario, and drawing insights from your observations. This might be the first time you write a case study, so here are some pointers from our Academic Team to help guide you. Happy writing and good luck with your application!

How to respond to a business case study

business case study mean

1. Read the article and/or watch the video provided in the document.

Sometimes you will remember more information if you repeat watching or reading them a few times, or pause to write notes and then rewatch sections to understand them better.

2. Make notes as you go.

Write down important points, dates, names, roles, important events, and details in the case.

3. Look for things that stand out to you.

If something seems unusual, good, or bad it most likely will hold some importance in the reflection you will write. Reading and watching the materials provided multiple times will make it easier to spot these irregularities.

4. Organize your points to form a summary of your opinion.

A good technique is to arrange your thoughts by answering the following: who, what, where, when, and how to get the main details out as a list, and go from there.

5. Analyze the situation presented.

Ask yourself what really happened in the case.

  • What business is the case based on? Is it a product or a service?
  • What set of conditions caused the situation?
  • What happened?
  • Who was involved and what decisions were made?
  • What was the outcome? Evaluate it.
  • What impact did the case have on the wider community?

6. Look at the questions.

See which parts of your notes can answer each one and use these as a starting point as you flesh out your paragraphs. Start your response with a thesis statement and summarise what you intend to cover in your response. Write a topic sentence for each paragraph.

7. Look at the word count.

If the case study requires 500 words, keep that in mind as you split it up between your answers. Write a response that answers the questions without any extra information. Be economical with words.

business case study mean

Advice for answering a business case study

1. don’t just repeat the information given..

Repeating the business case study question will show that you did not think independently about your answer. Dedicate some time to think about the case study and ask yourself what you think about it.

2. Do not copy information from the internet.

Plagiarism is unacceptable, and who wants to make a bad first impression?

3. There is more than one correct answer.

Don’t write what you think you are expected to write – everyone’s response will be different and that’s how it should be. Use your critical thinking skills and personal reaction to the case study to shape an answer that reflects your own thoughts and opinions.

Watch how to write a business case study

Have any questions for us don't hesitate to get in touch..

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business case study mean

Business Case: Definition, Example, and Template

Fahad Usmani, PMP

November 29, 2022

Business Case

Projects have risks. Risks come in different forms, such as financial losses, reputation, market share, customer loyalty, etc. A business case can help reduce these risks.

Before initiating a project, organizations ensure the project is worth the investment of resources. A business case is a phase gate that determines whether a project will continue to the next phase, be terminated, or be modified.

Stakeholders measure the project’s success in terms of cost, scope, time, and delivering the intended value. A business case connects the project with its value or benefits.

Today’s blog post will discuss the business case and provides its example and a sample template.

What is a Business Case? Definition & Meaning

Definition & Meaning: A business case documents economic feasibility to justify an initiative and is a basis for project initiation.

It includes the feasibility study and explains why the opportunity is worth pursuing. It provides the commercial viability, affordability, and achievability of the project.

New business ventures, product development, IT investments, innovation, etc., require investments, so business analysis weighs the investment against the value the project will deliver.

The value indicates project success and includes outcomes from the user’s perspective. It focuses on the outcome of the deliverables.

Many stakeholders cannot see the project’s value or opportunities and need a winning business case. A winning business case speaks in facts and style. Business executives must possess presentation skills to present business cases to stakeholders and win their trust.

Top management, the company board, or business analysts carry out the business case study. It is the WHY for the project.

In most cases, it happens after the Needs Analysis and Feasibility Study and before studying the Benefits Management Plan.

when business case is performed

Benefit – Cost = Value (Tangible + Intangible)

The value becomes eroded if the benefit is at a higher cost. However, if the benefit outweighs the invested cost, the project is worth investing in. 

The business case is an economic outcome of the feasibility study and helps management make a go or no-go decision.

Project managers do not participate in the business case studies; instead, they receive the project charter , which includes some business case elements. 

However, they can request business case documents. This project document provides them with an understanding of the value of the project and the reasons for the project initiation. 

Project managers can use business case studies as a source of inspiration to motivate the project team members.

The calculation of financial indicators is a significant part of the business case.

  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR): This is the interest you earn as an investor for ‘lending’ money to the project. Mathematically, you can calculate it by summing all present values over the project’s life to zero.

irr business case

  • Return on Investment (ROI): This compares the money earned (or lost) on investment to the invested amount.

roi business case

  • Net Present Value (NPV): This is the value of all future cash flows over the entire life of an investment discounted to the present.
  • Payback Time (PBT): The minimum duration when the cash flow becomes positive. You measure it in months or years. It is one quick way of measuring profitability. In this case, shorter is better.
  • Cost-Benefit Ratio (CBR): This is the ratio of investment cost to the estimated benefit (which has been monetized).
  • Profitability Index (PI): This is the ratio of the present value of future cash flows to the investment cost.

pi in business case study

Business Case Decision-Making Table

decision making in business case study

Content of a Business Case

A business case can include the following elements.

  • Executive Summary: This shows the key points, particularly the project’s financial benefits. An executive summary should be clear, credible, and persuasive. Many stakeholders prefer to read the summary first; therefore, it must be convincing.
  • Introduction: This provides a brief background of the company’s strategic goal and mission, highlighting how the project aligns with the organization’s objectives.
  • Scope: This defines the project boundaries. This is the high-level scope and captures the proposed business solution. For example, for a procurement project, it will capture the freight, commissioning and installation, training, spares, etc.
  • Business Need: This is a statement of the problem to solve. It can be a need that is ill-met, unarticulated, or unmet. Thus, it is an opportunity for the organization to create value.
  • Alternatives: This shows an alternative analysis and how the proposed solution is the preferred way to proceed. Presenting alternatives further supports justification.
  • Benefits: This states the value proposition. A value proposition describes the unique benefit that the idea brings to the company. It could be revenue, cost savings, or non-economic (e.g., regulatory compliance). It states the strengths associated with the offering and how it aligns with the corporate strategy.
  • Cost: This highlights the funding requirements. It can include the bill of quantity, a proforma invoice, etc.
  • Financial Analysis: This expresses the cash flow expected or projected from the investment, then calculates financial indices such as IRR, NPV, PBT, and NCR, as explained earlier. Use figures and charts to communicate your investment viability, as shown below.
  • Conclusion: Here, a final appeal is expressed for approval of the business case.

How to Write a Business Case

A business case is a key to the project’s success and the basis of the project charter and project management plans. Writing a business case requires experience, industry and market knowledge, and authority to initiate the project.

The following four steps are required to write a business case:

#1. Identify the Problem

Businesses initiate to solve a problem. Every project has a goal and objective that aligns with the organizational objective. For example, businesses can create a project to create a new product, build a new factory, conduct market research, etc.

#2. Identify Multiple Solutions

A problem can have many solutions, and you must find the best solution. Therefore, identify multiple solutions for the problem and then analyze the best solution. Then, you can prioritize them using some parameters, e.g., the feasibility of the resolution, cost, duration, required skills, etc. 

#3. Suggest the Recommended Solution

Now you have multiple prioritized solutions. You will further build the case for the best-recommended solution and send it to the management for their final decision. 

#4. Explain the Implementation Approach

This is the last step, and here you explain to stakeholders how you will implement the solution to achieve the organizational goal. You will also explain how the project will benefit the organization. 

Keep the following point in your mind while writing a business case:

  • Keep it short and simple and include essential information
  • Do not use jargon, idioms, and phrases
  • Explain the vision
  • Show the project benefit
  • Ensure the business case is clear, interesting, and concise

Business Case Sample Template

The below image shows a business case sample template.

Business Case Template

Business Case Example

The below image shows a business case example using a different template.

Business-Case-Example

Differences Between a Business Case and Business Plan

Many professionals are often confused between the business case and business plan, though the difference is clear. 

The following table shows the difference between the business case and the business plan.

Differences Between a Business Case and Business Plan

Similarities Between a Business Case and Business Plan

  • Both examine an opportunity
  • Both consider financial analysis
  • Both are used in decision-making
  • Both investigate the future, complement each other, and are business documents.

Business Case Vs Executive Summary

An executive summary is the summary of a document. In project management, executing summary is the summary of all project management documents that stakeholders can read and understand quickly by going through them deeply.

The executive summary provides high-level key information about the document. In addition, the business case will also have a short executing summary for stakeholders to have a quick glance at the business case.

Business Case Vs Project Charter

A project charter is an official document that initiates the project assigns the project manager, and gives them authority and resources to complete the project.

The project charter includes high-level project information such as project objective, project description, executive summary of the business case, project duration, project budget, name of key stakeholders, high-level risks, key assumptions, and constraints.

Benefits of a Business Case

  • It explains the benefits of a business idea.
  • It is a tool used to convince stakeholders of the value of a business idea.
  • It provides details on how a project will benefit an organization.
  • It helps organizations make better investment decisions

Do You Always Need a Business Case?

Not all project requires a business. For example, if the problem is known and the solution is available, you do not need a detailed business case. In such a situation, you can have a simple business case, or you may not have one at all.

You will need a business case when the problem is unique, or you are handling it for the first time, and the solution is not clearly visible. 

Business cases provide all clarification that stakeholders need to decide whether to initiate the project.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. who creates the business case.

The project sponsor, top management, or business analyst creates the business case. However, they can take help from the project sponsor if required.

#2. When is the Business Case Developed?

The business case is developed before the project is approved and the charter is signed.

A business case is key to every project, as it establishes the justification for the project. It is a vital project document that aligns activities to their value and ensures the organization’s resources become invested in the right project.

  • https://www.business-case-analysis.com/blog/business-case-business-plan-know- difference/
  • PMBOK Guide, Project Management Institute, sixth edition, pg. 29-30
  • https://www.chasegroup.com.au/five-steps-to-develop-a-solid-business-case
  • https://walkerstone.com/2017/07/21/business-plans-and-business-cases/
  • https://medium.com/blackblot/the-difference-between-a-business-case-and-a- business-plan-fe95a2bf90e2
  • https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/sloan-school-of-management/15-401-finance-theory-i- fall-2008/video-lectures-and-slides/MIT15_401F08_lec18.pdf
  • https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/need-business-case-6730

business case study mean

I am Mohammad Fahad Usmani, B.E. PMP, PMI-RMP. I have been blogging on project management topics since 2011. To date, thousands of professionals have passed the PMP exam using my resources.

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What Is a Case Study & Customer Success Story?

Learn the definition of a business case study, its meaning, benefits & use in marketing. Get best methods to research, write & design business case studies.

business case study mean

Dominika Krukowska

10 minute read

What is a case study

Short answer

What is a business case study.

A case study, also called customer success story, is a product marketing document used to show how your clients solved a business problem with the aid of your product or service. Case studies include statistics, quotes, and concrete examples with the goal of credibly demonstrating your capability to deliver results.

Bad case studies are not just ineffective - they lead to lost sales

A poorly done business case study can be a real bottleneck in your marketing funnel.

Sure, you have to have them; they're a non-negotiable part of the buying process. But if they're not compelling, you might as well not waste your time on it.

It’s bad enough that it’s hard to make a case study that gets results. But making a weak case study can actually cause you to look less attractive than the competition and cost you leads and sales.

Sometimes more is less.

This post is your roadmap to transforming your case studies from forgettable fillers to customer magnets. And ultimately, turning more prospects into customers.

Let's jump in!

What are the benefits of case studies in business and marketing?

Case studies are an essential part of any well-oiled marketing engine. They demonstrate real-life applications, showcase your unique value, build trust, address concerns, and connect with your audience.

Let’s get a bit into detail.

Demonstrating real-life applications: Business case studies show your product or service in action, offering a peek into how it can be used in real-world situations. It's like offering a test drive before asking customers to commit.

Showing your unique value: Customer success stories let your product or service shine. They illustrate exactly what you bring to the table and why customers should choose you over anyone else.

Building trust: Think of business case studies as your brand's personal advocate. They show how you've helped others succeed, which makes potential customers more likely to trust you with their business.

Easing concerns and objections: Got customers sitting on the fence? Business case studies can gently nudge them towards you by addressing common doubts or worries. It's about showing potential customers that you can deliver what they need.

Connecting with your audience: A good business case study is like a mirror—your potential customers should be able to see themselves in it. It's all about tapping into their hopes, their worries, and their needs.

What to include in a case study?

A successful business case study is the product of a strategic blend of essential components. Each one carries its weight, shaping a narrative that is both engaging and impactful.

Introduction: Set the stage with a one-liner summarizing your unique value proposition. Tailor it to grab your readers' attention and pique their curiosity.

Company overview: Give your audience a snapshot of your customer's business, helping them understand who they are and what they do.

The problem/challenge: Dive into the nitty-gritty of the issue your customer was facing (from their perspective), making it relatable to your audience.

Your solution: Detail how your product or service swooped in as the game-changing solution, addressing the customer's problem.

Results: Showcase the impressive outcome of your solution, demonstrating tangible success that can't be ignored. Back it up with relevant data and metrics.

Customer quotes/testimonials: Add authenticity and credibility to your case study with direct quotes from the customer who experienced the transformation first-hand.

Next steps: Conclude with a call to action, guiding the reader on what to do next, whether it's contacting your company or booking a product demo.

Here's an example of a case study designed according to this structure:

UX case study example

UX Case study

This template for case studies in UX and UI comes with tons of space for text and many visual elements such as charts, timelines, or graphs. This one is perfect for those case studies in which you need to explain the process in greater detail.

What makes a good case study?

A good case study follows a story format of problem-solution-impact. It includes key details of the client’s problem, how they solved it with the help of your product, and the impact it brought them.

8 critical components of a successful case study:

  • Talking from the client’s perspective
  • Addressing well-defined business problem
  • Telling the WHY, not just the WHAT and the HOW
  • Giving concrete example
  • Backing the story with statistics and facts
  • Weaving quotes and testimonials into the story
  • Making the content interactive
  • Including a call to action

In principle, a top-tier business case study is more than a testimonial.

Think of it as a blockbuster movie, where your customer is the hero Luke Skywalker, the problem is the looming death star, and your solution is the trusted guide Obi-Wan Kenobi.

This gives readers an engaging narrative that not only captures interest but also propels action.

Now let's take a look behind-the-scenes. at the key elements that make a good business case study.

1. Story from the client’s perspective

The key to a captivating case study lies in whose story you're telling. Let your customer be the hero, not your product or service. By focusing on their journey, you'll create a narrative that resonates with your audience, making them more invested in the outcome.

A great example is Adobe’s case study with Under Armour :

In this case study, Adobe tells the story of how Under Armour used Adobe Experience Manager Assets to streamline and enhance their creative asset management. The case study is presented from Under Armour's point of view, providing a customer-centric perspective.

2. Common but well-defined business problem

The best case studies revolve around relatable, well-articulated problems. The issue should be common enough for your audience to identify with, yet specific enough to avoid being generic.

Shoot for the sweet spot that makes a specific segment of your prospective clients say, "That sounds like us!"

A great example is Slack’s case study with HubSpot :

HubSpot, a well-known inbound marketing , sales, and service software provider, grappled with the challenge of maintaining internal communication and collaboration across a rapidly expanding global team.

This case study by Slack outlines how they addressed HubSpot's problem - a common issue faced by many growing businesses.

3. Tell the WHY, not just the WHAT and the HOW

The magic of a compelling case study lies in the mystery of 'why' your solution works. It's crucial to share what happened and how, but digging into the reasons behind the decisions and outcomes adds mystery to your story and keeps your audience intrigued.

An example of this is Marketo’s case study with Panasonic :

In this business case study, Marketo digs into why Panasonic decided to implement a new marketing automation solution.

The case study doesn't just focus on the solutions Marketo provided, but also highlights the reasons behind Panasonic's decision, adding depth to the narrative.

4. Concrete examples

Details make your case study relatable and tangible. Incorporate specifics - who did what , when , where , and how . These concrete examples help your audience visualize the scenario, making your narrative more compelling and memorable.

Zendesk's case study with LendingClub presents concrete examples:

It follows how LendingClub used Zendesk's customer service software to improve their customer support operations.

The case study offers a clear narrative about the problems LendingClub faced, the solutions provided by Zendesk, and the impact these solutions had on LendingClub's business.

Numbers lend authority and credibility that words often cannot. They provide concrete evidence of your solution's impact, creating a stronger case for your product or service.

But remember, these stats should be significant, reliable, and, most importantly, show real impact on your customer’s bottom line.

Here's an example of a great animated numbers slide:

Animated numbers slide example

6. Quotes and testimonials

There's nothing like a testimonial from a happy customer to boost your credibility. Direct quotes add a personal touch and authenticity to your case study, making it more believable and trustworthy.

Here’s a great testimonial example from Hotjar:

Hotjar testimonials example

7. Interactive design

Incorporating interactive design elements will make your case studies stand out, but more importantly, drive high-engagement.

Use eye-catching graphics, use clickable elements like tabs, videos, and menus, include live graphs, animated flipbooks , and so on. Use these elements tactically in order to break up your text into digestible chunks and make your content easier to read and to navigate.

Here’s an example of an interactive business case study:

Marketing case study example

Marketing case study

White glove delivery with a focus on process optimization explained by a compelling story.

8. Call to action

A good case study doesn't just end; it leads your reader to the next step. Be it trying your product, booking a demo, getting in touch with your team, or reading another case study - your call to action should be clear, compelling, and easy to follow.

Here’s what a clear, singular call to action should look like:

Interactive deck with an embedded calendar

If you want to learn more practical tips, check out our post on how to create a business case study that converts .

How to use a case study in business and marketing?

Often underestimated and underused , business case studies have the power to leverage real-life narratives to shape opinions, influence decision-making, and ultimately, drive conversions.

Let me show you how you can use that power to your advantage.

1. Used as sales collateral

In the world of sales, your case study can be the difference between a polite “we’ll consider it” and a bought-in “show me how it works!”

Picture this: you're reaching out to potential clients, and you slip in a case study showcasing how you've helped a similar business overcome a common hurdle. It's not just a pitch, it's proof you can do it.

But the magic doesn't stop there. Weave these real-life success stories into your sales presentations , and watch as they accelerate your pipeline.

They provide tangible evidence of your value proposition, helping you remove objections, demonstrate value, and differentiate yourself in a crowded market.

2. Used as marketing collateral

I) Use on your website:

On the marketing front, case studies can significantly boost your self-serve conversion rate . By featuring them on your website, you're offering visitors a peek into your track record of success - letting them feel like they're missing out.

II) Add to brochures and product catalogs:

Just sprinkle in a few case studies, and you've just added an extra layer of credibility.

III) Leverage social media:

Share your case studies on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, to promote your business; and start a conversation around your brand.

IV) Include in PPC campaigns on Google AdWords:

Add case studies as site links to give potential customers another reason to click. It's like saying, "Don't just take our word for it, see how we've helped businesses like yours."

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Case study in site links

Obstacles for creating business case studies & how to overcome them

Creating captivating business case studies is essential, but let's be real: it's not a walk in the park.

So let's buckle up and navigate the most common roadblocks and learn how to steer around them.

Hurdle 1: Spotting the right stories feels like finding a needle in a haystack.

Hold on there! Locating customers ready to share their success tales might seem daunting, but it's not mission impossible. Here's the deal: people love to share success.

How to get clients to share their success stories

Collaborate with your customer success team to identify delighted or triumphant clients

Seek out customers who are scoring high on NPS

Team up with sales to single out recent renewals or upsells

Engage with super active customers on social media

Ask your team during meetings about any standout customers

Reach out to customers who have spoken at your events

Connect with Customer Advisory Board members

Do this and you're bound to uncover some star storytellers.

Hurdle 2: Customers might not want to get involved.

Let's flip the script! Instead of begging for a favor, portray this as an opportunity for customers to amplify their industry status.

Make it a hassle-free and rewarding experience for them. Provide data, draft points for discussion, and be their cheerleader throughout the journey.

Remember, appreciation is infectious. A heartfelt thank you can turn a one-time participant into a long-term advocate.

Hurdle 3: It’s a mammoth task.

Creating business case studies can feel like a marathon, particularly when you're juggling multiple roles.

Delegating the task to an experienced industry writer can save your team a ton of time and energy. You might find the right person within your network, or you might need to explore industry-specific job boards.

Creating a structured timeline and using a shared tool can help keep everyone on track and in the loop.

Here's how to streamline the process of creating a case study:

Extend an invitation to the potential customer

Connect them with the lead writer

Conduct an internal review of the first draft before sending it to the customer

Incorporate their feedback into the second draft

Get final approval for the final draft

Publish and promote your case study!

How to design a business case study?

Your case study design supports the text like your body language supports what you’re saying when you talk. It adds that extra layer of emotional meaning you can't quite put into words.

Luckily, even if you're not a design expert, there are tools to help you add that extra emotional depth to your content. Let’s review a few tools that help you design your case study.

Design using a website builder

If you’d prefer to get hands-on with your design, website builders like Wix or Squarespace offer a versatile platform for creating a business case study from scratch.

They provide a blank canvas and a wealth of design elements, giving you the liberty to choose each piece and place it just where you want it.

It takes time and a keen eye for design to make all the elements come together seamlessly, but the end result can be rewarding.

Design using a case study maker

A case study maker gives you pre-set elements ready for use. All you need to do is drop in your content, and the tool takes care of the aesthetics and user experience.

It's a much more efficient way to create a case study with all its unique building blocks than using a website builder.

We know, since we see how fast our users create astounding case studies using our own case study creator. Try for yourself .

Don’t design - use a template

Templates provide an immediate and easy to work with structure for your design and content.

But beyond that, our gallery of interactive case study templates gives you time-tested designs we know have high-engagement and killer conversion (based on more than 100K reading sessions we’ve analyzed).

Grab a template - and you can skip the long design process, save time, money and frustration, and simply start creating.

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Hi, I'm Dominika, Content Specialist at Storydoc. As a creative professional with experience in fashion, I'm here to show you how to amplify your brand message through the power of storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

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PESTLE Analysis

SWOT and Business Analysis Tools

What Is Business Case Analysis (BCA)?

Oct 15, 2019 by Thomas Bush

Business case analysis is a tool used to evaluate potential business decisions. It’s often used in the corporate world where project managers and other front-line employees need to convince company stakeholders for their support. The project manager , who is responsible for conducting the analysis, assesses the costs, risks, and benefits of a decision using their specialist knowledge. Then, company stakeholders review the analysis (in the form of a report) to determine whether or not they should approve the decision.

This valuable business analysis tool may sound daunting, but is surprisingly easy to use. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of business case analysis, discussing its key features, potential uses, and much more.

Key Features of Business Case Analysis

The basic purpose of a business case analysis is to assess a decision or action. In business terms, the most important criteria for this purpose are costs, risks, and benefits. In other words, a business case analysis report should answer three basic questions:

  • Costs: What are the costs of making this decision?
  • Risks: What are the risks of making this decision?
  • Benefits: What are the expected benefits of making this decision?

Ultimately, the goal of answering these questions is to assess whether or not to make the decision. If the expected benefits of the decision significantly outweigh the costs and risks, the decision should be made. If, however, the costs and risks outweigh the benefits, an alternative should be considered.

Business case analysis usually has a financial focus, whereby costs, risks, and benefits are compared in dollar terms. However, business case analysis can also use other quantitative or qualitative lenses . For example, the costs of a decision might be measured in time (instead of dollars). Similarly, the risks or benefits of a decision might be measured in changes to brand value, customer satisfaction, or even legal status. When business case analysis does not focus on financial impacts, it’s important to look for objective ways to compare these upsides and downsides, so that stakeholders can make an informed choice.

Business Case Analysis vs Business Case

You may be wondering what the difference is between a business case analysis and a business case. The truth is that both of these terms refer to the same business analysis tool . The difference is that business case usually refers to the report itself, whereas business case analysis refers to the overall approach to analysis.

Why Use Business Case Analysis

There are two powerful reasons to use business case analysis. The first is that it forces the individual creating the report to consider all of the costs, risks, and benefits of making a decision. When making a decision, it’s easy to focus on the desired results instead of realistically evaluating every possible outcome. When forced to think about exceptional or undesired outcomes, there’s a greater chance the correct decision will be made.

The second reason to use business case analysis is that it allows a subject-matter expert (in most cases, the product manager) to easily transfer and contextualize relevant knowledge to stakeholders. Without a comprehensive report from the expert, stakeholders may not see the significance of certain costs, risks, or benefits.

When to Use Business Case Analysis

Business case analysis is most often used in large companies where the project manager needs approval from stakeholders. In small and medium-sized companies, the project manager is usually the primary stakeholder, so there is no need for external approval.

With that said, it can still be beneficial to conduct business case analysis even in smaller companies. This is because it forces the decision-maker to consider all possibilities, as mentioned above.

Business Case Analysis for Comparing Actions

So far, we’ve discussed using business case analysis to evaluate a single decision. However, business case analysis can also be an extremely effective way to compare two or more courses of action. Once again, this is partially because conducting business case analysis forces you to consider a number of possibilities. While two courses of action may have the same expected benefits, they may have different risks or costs, making it much easier to decide which one to pursue.

Structuring Your Business Case

Like most types of business analysis , business case analysis is usually presented in the form of a written report (the business case). While there are no set rules for this kind of report, here is a simple structure that includes the basic elements:

  • Executive Summary: Like other corporate reports, a business case analysis report should begin with an executive summary. This section should summarize the results of the analysis and give appropriate recommendations regarding the decision in question.
  • Introduction: The main purpose of the introduction is to provide context for the report. It should discuss what is being analyzed and why (in other words, the objectives of the analysis)
  • Methods (Optional): Optionally, the report can include a section discussing methodology. If included, this section should discuss the approaches used to analyze the potential outcomes of the decision.
  • Expected Outcomes: A crucial part of the report is the outcomes section. This section should discuss the expected outcomes — in particular, costs and benefits — of the business decision.
  • Risk Assessment: Similarly important is the risk assessment section . Here, the report should discuss potential negative outcomes that may result if certain assumptions (leading to the expected outcomes) are not met. 
  • Conclusion: The report should close with a conclusion. This section should summarize the findings of the report and provide appropriate recommendations with those findings in mind.

Final Thoughts

Business case analysis is a decision-making tool whereby reports — called business cases — are created to discuss the costs, risks, and benefits of a given decision. Often employed in large companies, this type of analysis allows for knowledgeable project managers to evaluate decisions in a way that stakeholders can understand.

The business case itself should include an executive summary, introduction, expected outcomes, risks, and a conclusion. It may also include other sections, such as methodology. Most important, however, is an objective analysis of the positive and negative outcomes of the decision itself.

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7 Favorite Business Case Studies to Teach—and Why

Explore more.

  • 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)

business case study mean

“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.

business case study mean

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

business case study mean

“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

business case study mean

“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

business case study mean

“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

business case study mean

“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

business case study mean

“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

business case study mean

“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

CASE TEACHING

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.

business case study mean

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.

business case study mean

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.

business case study mean

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.

business case study mean

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.

business case study mean

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.

business case study mean

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.

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Case study definition

business case study mean

Case study, a term which some of you may know from the "Case Study of Vanitas" anime and manga, is a thorough examination of a particular subject, such as a person, group, location, occasion, establishment, phenomena, etc. They are most frequently utilized in research of business, medicine, education and social behaviour. There are a different types of case studies that researchers might use:

• Collective case studies

• Descriptive case studies

• Explanatory case studies

• Exploratory case studies

• Instrumental case studies

• Intrinsic case studies

Case studies are usually much more sophisticated and professional than regular essays and courseworks, as they require a lot of verified data, are research-oriented and not necessarily designed to be read by the general public.

How to write a case study?

It very much depends on the topic of your case study, as a medical case study and a coffee business case study have completely different sources, outlines, target demographics, etc. But just for this example, let's outline a coffee roaster case study. Firstly, it's likely going to be a problem-solving case study, like most in the business and economics field are. Here are some tips for these types of case studies:

• Your case scenario should be precisely defined in terms of your unique assessment criteria.

• Determine the primary issues by analyzing the scenario. Think about how they connect to the main ideas and theories in your piece.

• Find and investigate any theories or methods that might be relevant to your case.

• Keep your audience in mind. Exactly who are your stakeholder(s)? If writing a case study on coffee roasters, it's probably gonna be suppliers, landlords, investors, customers, etc.

• Indicate the best solution(s) and how they should be implemented. Make sure your suggestions are grounded in pertinent theories and useful resources, as well as being realistic, practical, and attainable.

• Carefully proofread your case study. Keep in mind these four principles when editing: clarity, honesty, reality and relevance.

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  1. How to Write a Business Case Study: Tips, Steps, Mistakes

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  2. What is a Business Case Study and How to Write with Examples

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  3. Business Case Analysis: Definition, Format & Examples of a Case Study

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  4. What is a Case Study? [+6 Types of Case Studies]

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  5. How to Write Business Case Studies

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  6. How to Write a Case Study (+10 Examples & Free Template!)

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  1. How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)

    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. ProjectManager's free business case template.

  2. What is a business case and how to write one (with template)

    A business case is a useful tool to provide a clear rationale for pursuing the project. A thorough business case can help key stakeholders decide whether to invest in the project by evaluating the feasibility, costs, risks and potential returns. A business case presentation gives stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and address concerns.

  3. What Is a Business Case? Definition and Examples

    A business case is a document presented to company stakeholders that outlines the reasons for pursuing a project or business decision. It's developed during a project's initial phase and examines how and why a company should address a specific business problem or opportunity. Presenting a business case requires more than a good idea and a ...

  4. The beginner's guide to writing an effective business case

    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.

  5. What Is a Case Study?

    Revised on November 20, 2023. A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research. A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are ...

  6. How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template

    Business Case Study Examples; Case Study Definition. 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 ...

  7. Business case

    A business case captures the reasoning for initiating a project or task. [1] Many projects, but not all, are initiated by using a business case. [2] It is often presented in a well-structured written document, [3] but may also come in the form of a short verbal agreement or presentation. The logic of the business case is that, whenever ...

  8. How to Write a Business Case (with Examples & Template to Help)

    The Most Important Components of a Business Case. A business case should convince key stakeholders of the importance and viability of your project. Be sure to include these things to create an effective business case: An executive summary, which is a concise overview of your project's definition and goals. Use this section to briefly explain ...

  9. Case Study: Definition, Types, Examples & More

    A case study is a comprehensive report of the results of theory testing or examining emerging themes of a business in real life context. Case studies are also often used in the healthcare industry, conducting health services research with primary research interest around routinely collected healthcare data.

  10. How to Write a Business Case: 6 Things You Need to Include

    Enumerate the requirements needed for the project to be successful, which may include infrastructure, a team, and a system. A complete business case will also include a "do nothing" option where you'll discuss the risks and benefits of not going forward with any course of action. 6. Recommendation.

  11. What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

    Summary. It's been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in ...

  12. How to Write and Format a Business Case Study

    Business case studies are teaching tools that are used by many business schools, colleges, universities, and corporate training programs. This method of teaching is known as the case method.Most business case studies are written by educators, executives or heavily educated business consultants. However, there are times when students are asked to conduct and write their own business case studies.

  13. Business Case Study: 12 Tips to Writing Compelling Stories

    Whenever feasible, include quotes from the customer to add authenticity and provide a personal touch to the case study. 9. Avoid direct praise. While testimonials are valuable, refrain from overtly praising your own company within the case study. Let the customer's success story speak for itself.

  14. How to Write a Case Study: The Compelling Step-by-Step Guide

    Definition of a Written case study and its Purpose A case study is a research method that involves a detailed and comprehensive examination of a specific real-life situation. It's often used in various fields, including business, education, economics, and sociology, to understand a complex issue better.

  15. How to write a case study

    1. Identify your goal. Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

  16. What is a business case study?

    Business case studies explained. A business case study summarizes a real-life business issue faced by a company and looks at how it may affect society within a business context. A case study is a research tool and can form part of the research methods you will use in your final projects in our programs. Here are examples of the cases you are ...

  17. Business Case: Definition, Example, and Template

    Definition & Meaning: A business case documents economic feasibility to justify an initiative and is a basis for project initiation. It includes the feasibility study and explains why the opportunity is worth pursuing. It provides the commercial viability, affordability, and achievability of the project.

  18. When to build a Business Case

    The Business Case is a reference point before, during, and after a project. As the project begins the Business Case establishes the ultimate goal of the project for all stakeholders—including the project manager and sponsor. There are invariably concepts in the minds of the key project participants of what they expect the project to accomplish.

  19. How to Write a Great Business Case

    6 QUALITIES OF GREAT CASE WRITERS. Curiosity. Comfort with ambiguity, since cases may have more than one "right" answer. Command of the topic or subject at hand. Ability to relate to the case protagonists. Enthusiasm for the case teaching method. Capacity for finding the drama in a business situation and making it feel personal to students.

  20. What Is a Case Study & Customer Success Story?

    A case study, also called customer success story, is a product marketing document used to show how your clients solved a business problem with the aid of your product or service. Case studies include statistics, quotes, and concrete examples with the goal of credibly demonstrating your capability to deliver results. Browse case study templates.

  21. What Is Business Case Analysis (BCA)?

    Final Thoughts. Business case analysis is a decision-making tool whereby reports — called business cases — are created to discuss the costs, risks, and benefits of a given decision. Often employed in large companies, this type of analysis allows for knowledgeable project managers to evaluate decisions in a way that stakeholders can understand.

  22. 7 Favorite Business Case Studies to Teach—and Why

    Francesca Gino, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School. FRANCESCA GINO Professor, 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 ...

  23. Best Case Study Writing Service

    The ordering process is fully online, and it goes as follows: • Select the topic and the deadline of your case study. • Provide us with any details, requirements, statements that should be emphasized or particular parts of the writing process you struggle with. • Leave the email address, where your completed order will be sent to.