7 steps to getting support for a new library idea

Making the case for your new opportunity

dv1984002The Library has an idea for a new policy, new service, new project, new resource, or even re-organisation. Having a clear one or two-page business case will help you when discussing your proposal with university decision-makers.
This gives you a framework to pitch your idea.

A business case will help you succinctly outline the what and the why of the solution your propose.

The process of drawing up your business case will sharpen up your ideas and get the value of what you propose crystal clear.

Just follow the 7 business case development steps using one of your own library cases and see it for yourself.

1       The opportunity

Define the current opportunity in one clear sentence.

2       The issue

Describe the current situation and problem at hand in brief.

3       The objective

Outline your main objective succinctly here. I.e. to solve the x or y pain? Or to gain a, b, c, d or e.

4       The options

Present several options to your discussion partner/stakeholder giving them a choice.
List several options, including the status quo. Do not propose more than 4, ideally 3.
Briefly analyse each option and include the benefits, costs, and timeframes. Back them up with data where possible.
Your favourite option provides the best evidence.

5       The pros and cons

List the pros and cons of each option.

6       The recommendation

6.1        Benefits

List the benefits of your proposal.
Think with your discussion partner/stakeholder. What is critical to him/her? What are their priorities? Concerns or even pet hates?

6.2        Costs

Estimate the costs for the solution proposed.
In addition, use cost-benefit measures where possible such as Return on Investment to back up your case.

6.3        Assumptions and risks and preventing those risks

List the assumptions behind your case as well as
the risks and how you will prevent these from impacting your proposal.

6.4        Key results / milestones

What is the key result you expect to achieve? What important milestones do you envisage?

6.5        Summary of recommendation and benefit

Finally, wrap up and briefly summarise the recommendation once more shortly and succinctly.

7       The summary

Draw up a one-pager summarising your business case and share this with your stakeholder in advance.

  • The one-sentence opportunity
  • The alternatives, including pros and cons
  • The recommendation

This summary will form an excellent basis for your discussion.

Send this to your stakeholder in advance of your meeting: ideally when you propose a meeting to discuss your new proposal.


I have used this model to support several clients for ideas big and small. It has brought small and large fruits, including a 400,000 euro project.

Guus van den Brekel, Central Medical Library (UMCG), the Netherlands has used it and says:

“As someone who has lots of ideas, this tool helped me get my project idea clear in my mind first and foremost. Once sending it through, it unexpectedly quickly got me an appointment with a very busy decision maker, who consequently approved the idea on the spot!”

Try it yourself, or ask me for a short skype, and I can draft such a business case for you.


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