Wednesday, June 30
11:15 AM-12:15 PM
Pier 4

Workshop: Developing the Business Case for a Major e-Learning Courseware or Infrastructure Project

Roundtable ID: 28954
  1. aaa
    Saul Carliner
    Concordia University

Abstract: One of the most significant challenges facing e-learning professionals is that of receiving support for a major e-learning project, such as an investment in e-learning infrastructure or development of a high-visiblity, high-impact (and high-cost) project. But memos with requests for funds often get turned down, because decision makers seek a more thorough analysis. This workshop explains how to develop such an analysis—called a business case. A business case is a prospectus for investing in a project, serving the same role as prospectuses for financial investments. In this workshop, explore each of the 6 key parts of an effective business case and explore a template for preparing each. Also how to identify and analyze the options available, compare them, and recommend an alternative. In addition, receive tips for effectively presenting the business case to decision makers and influencers. Last, use this workshop to begin preparation of a business case for a project in your environment.


After completing this workshop, participants should be able to: • Describe the purpose of a business case • Describe the purpose of each of the 6 sections of a business case. • Describe the criteria for selecting possible alternatives. • Provide a complete description of each feasible alternative considered. • Assess the financial impact of each alternative. • Recommend an appropriate alternative, given the constraints of the project. • Effectively present the proposal to decision makers.

Topical Outline

1. Opening case (25 minutes). a. Participants play the roles of decision makers, and decide whether to fund projects based on the information provided to them. b. Debrief the cases c. Overview of the workshop 2. Overview of a Business Case (15 minutes): a. Purpose of a business case. b. Explain why decision makers prefer business cases for significant investments c. Introduce learners to the template for a business case 3. Preparing the business case (2 hours —including a 15-minute break.) a. Cover letter. Explain the purpose, what to include in it, and what NOT to include. b. Executive Summary: Explain the purpose, what to include, and when to prepare it. c. Background of the situation. 1.) Explain why a background is needed, provide a format for quickly communicating the relevant background information, including an explanation of identifying a business objective for the project as well linking it to a strategic business need of the sponsoring organization. 2.) Give participants a chance to write notes about the background of an upcoming business case needed in their own environments (backup scenario to be provided for those who do not have a case). d. Criteria for selecting alternatives. 1.) Explanation 2.) Give participants a chance to write notes for their cases e. Analysis of the alternatives 1.) Explanation 2.) Give participants a chance to write notes for their cases f. Return and risk on each alternative. 1.) Explanation 2.) Give participants a chance to write notes for their cases g. Recommendation of an alternative. 4. Presenting the business case to decision makers (15 minutes) 5. Wrap-up (20 minutes) a. Provide a list of resources that they can consult for additional ideas b. Ask participants to share ideas from this workshop that they’ll use when making their next request for funding.


For administrators, instructors, managers, and senior instructional designers with responsibility for submitting proposals for major e-learning projects and investments in e-learning technology.

Experience Level



Saul Carliner is an associate professor of educational technology at Concordia University in Montreal, where he teaches courses on instructional design, educational communication, research methodology and reporting, and the management of educational technology groups. His research focuses on emerging forms of online learning and communication for the workplace, and the management of groups producing these materials. He has conducted several studies of management practice in training and technical communication departments, including studies of their management portfolios and practices, means of tracking and reporting effectiveness and productivity, and the perception of training groups by their customers. He has received research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Hong Kong University Grants Council, Society for Technical Communication, and Canadian Council for Learning. Also an industry consultant, Carliner has advised management on strategic planning and technology issues, with customers like IBM, Microsoft, ST Microelectronics, World Bank and several government agencies. Among his 7 books are several on e-learning, including The E-Learning Handbook: Past Promises, Present Challenges (with Patti Shank), Advanced Web-Based Training (with Margaret Driscoll), Designing e-Learning, and An Overview of Online Learning. He has published over 200 articles and serves on the editorial boards of Information Design Journal, Performance Improvement Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, and e-Learn Magazine. Also a popular speaker, he has delivered over 400 workshops, keynote speeches, and conference presentations. He is a Certified Training and Development Professional. He is a member of the board of the Canadian Society for Training and Development, past research fellow of the American Society for Training and Development, and a fellow and past international president of the Society for Technical Communication.
No presider for this session.


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