Handle non-financial business case

The more a business case can provide a sound financial rationale with a positive return on investment with benefits being substantially bigger than costs, the better. Everything is easier when the money can do the talking. However, the reality is that many benefits provide a challenge. Financial impact related to the benefit cannot be measured directly. The challenge does not mean that this type of benefit that some call soft benefits do not belong in the business case. There are multiple ways to deal with the challenge:

  • Make soft benefits tangible (whenever possible, make benefits concrete; if it is not possible to do it in financial terms, use other measures).
  • Relate the benefits to important business objectives (benefits may contribute to important and strategic business objectives that, in themselves, are difficult to measure in financial terms).
  • Estimate contribution to business objectives (define in percentage how much a benefit contributes to a business objective). If the business objective has a financial value, a financial value of the benefit can also be derived.
  • Rank the benefits in the business case. Ask decision makers to rank benefits. It may show that benefits that are difficult to measure in financial terms are given a higher rank than benefits with a clear financial value.


The more benefits without a clear financial value are included in the business case and the more these benefits are the main contributors on the benefits side, the more important it is to involve key decision makers during case development to ensure buy-in and understanding of the case logic.  If they are not involved, there is a risk when the case is presented that included benefits are not considered relevant, that derived financial value are not understood, and that the business case is rejected.

If the project is initiated without buy-in from key decision makers, the project is exposed to the risk of misalignment regarding the purpose of the project.


Detailed activities

  • Identify benefits and benefits that are difficult to measure
  • Define method to make the benefits tangible
  • Involve key decision makers to obtain buy-in
  • Summarize benefits in business case