Start with a 2-3 paragraph overview of the customer’s company. This should be very positive – since you’re going to detail a problem the customer was having, the last thing you want to do is make them sound like jerks. So compliment them. Feel free to adapt the overview from their own Website text, where they’re already placing themselves in the best possible light. Then move on to the business challenge. Don’t make the customer sound stupid or incompetent. The challenge should always be centered on something good that is happening to them – fast growth, industry prominence, strategic IT changes – whatever. Their challenge should be applicable to your readers’ own business issues.
No project goes perfectly, but save the debriefing for the longer-form trade journal article. These short case studies should report on the successful project by briefly discussing specific products and benefits.
Don’t go all over the map. If the project is fairly narrow or specific, you won’t have any trouble sticking with the main point. In the case of large and complex installations, concentrate on the main point. For example, Microsoft Great Plains has more modules than you can shake a stick at. Concentrate on the ones that had the most positive impact on your customer.
Always quantify improvement when you can. Numbers can be dollar savings, percentages, or other measures of saved staff time, more efficient workflows, better customer service, etc. Be sure that the benefits you list are the benefits the customer perceives – hard costs are most easily quantified, but soft costs may have the higher perceived benefit to a customer. Ideally you will list both.