How to structure a case study

Many clients have been asking for help with design and execution of case studies.  And we’ve been giving a pretty similar answer for each cases, so we want to share that answer with you!

For those of you not in the know, a case study is a business term for a business example that illustrates some sort of strategic or financial decision.  They’re critical to include when trying to convince someone of what you’re talking about, be it to build a new business, invest in a current one, etc.  They should also all be parallel to each other:  meaning that they’re structured the same way, written in the same tenses, and visually in the same template.

The basic structure for all case studies is:  Situation, Approach, Impact.  They can be broken down into different variations with slightly different elements, but the core of the case is still the same.  So, let’s chat about that a bit more:

Situation:  What was the issue?  Talk about who the players are, what problem they were trying to solve (great if you can include a problem statement), when this happened, etc.  Anything that will help set the stage.

Approach:  How did you solve the issue, what did you pull in to do the work?  This could be visual models of a process, a quick paragraph explaining any methodology or research that was done to solve the problem.

Impact:  What was accomplished?  Money saved, earned, cost cutting, income streams, who was saved.  Anything that provided a definitive measure.  Typically positive, but can be negative as well.

It makes sense to include company logos, business frameworks, data-charts or any other visuals that differentiate the various cases from each other.  Just make sure none of your images are less than 1/12 of the page so your audience can actually see them.

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