Supplying to the NHS can sometimes feel like a complicated process.

A common barrier frequently cited to us is the business case. In simple terms, a business case puts forward a proposal requesting resource, whether that is money, people, or time, from an NHS organisation.

These resources are precious to the NHS and a clear and thorough business case can be make or break. It has importance as a source of consistency and understanding for all those involved. It also helps to set a benchmark and manage expectations.

Your business case will be subject to a thorough appraisal process and must answer all the questions and concerns a busy NHS organisation would have.

There are core components of an NHS business case including making a case for change; articulating value for money; commercial viability; affordability; and a capability to deliver.

To cover these core components in enough detail, you’ll need to dedicate time to research and information gathering before you start your business plan.

You may also want to consider these five tips:

1. Treat your NHS business case as unique

An NHS business case will go through different processes depending on the organisation’s governance requirements and the value of the contract. Always understand the status of the internal business case and the stages that will follow before you start the process.

Requirements for non-NHS business cases may be different, so make sure you treat this as a unique case. Your case for change must fit alongside other marketplace policies; pressures; and structures.

Make sure to concentrate on the detail before you start.

2. Know who your business case is for

Approval of your business case will involve multiple stakeholders, it’s essential that you know who this is to understand what information they are interested in. The way your innovation may be funded can be based on the type of organisation, so it’s important to know who you are making the business case for. For example, is it aimed at primary or secondary care? Are they a foundation trust or not?

3. Remember that value is relative

What you deem as ‘value’, may be very different to your NHS customer. Fully understanding your value proposition is a crucial step to getting this part of your business case right.

4. Ask yourself, will your calculations stand up to scrutiny?

Within your business case, you will need to include figures relating to value; finance; evidence; and required resources. Potential investors need to know these are accurate and if they aren’t this will have implications for your business case and the future project.

5. Your stakeholders will want to know ‘what if we choose to do nothing?’

Doing nothing could be an option for your audience. When setting out your case for change, you need to help them understand that doing nothing isn’t an option. This may include outcomes and risks associated with doing nothing, and an overview of what other approaches have been considered.

Further reading

If you’ve found this information useful, you may also be interested in the following resources from some of our heath innovation networks:

Access health innovation network support

Complete our company registration form to access support from your local heath innovation network to produce your business case:

If you would like to access support from a wider range of organisations like NICE; MHRA; NIHR, as well as the heath innovation networks, we’d advise that you apply to the NHS Innovation Service . There is no need to complete the Heath Innovation Network engagement form if you apply for the NHS Innovation Service. The heath innovation networks will be made aware of your application.