The business case

The business case underpins any project because it describes success in terms of measurable benefits. To forecast the intended benefits, much thought is needed and the results must find a place in the business case. The sponsor is best placed to develop the business case because it is the sponsor who will be charged with delivering the successful outcome and will probably have pushed for the project to be funded so far. Once completed, the business case should be submitted to the portfolio management team to be approved. If they do so, they should also provide the budget requested.

In practice, it is not unusual for the project manager (if one has been identified) to help to develop the business case, not only because it is an ideal way to become familiar with the project itself, but also because creating the document should be planned, monitored and controlled. However, this document must not be owned nor signed off by the project manager; if this happens, what clearer demonstration could there be of the business's lack of interest or dereliction of responsibility?

The success of a business case should be judged against the following criteria:

e Does it show the difference over time of the costs of the project compared with its intended benefits? e Are all identified risks accompanied by a mitigation?

e Where alternative solutions exist, does it propose a preferred option? e Can it be easily compared to other business cases when setting priorities?

e Does it consider not just the project costs alone, but also those that may be incurred beyond its closure? e Does it enable a clear approval decision to be made?

Table 8.1 lists what should be included in a business case.

Table S.1 The business case

Opportunity or problem

A description of the opportunity or problem that has led to the

need for what this project is intended to deliver.

Strategic fit

Shows what contribution the project will make to the

organisation's strategic direction.

Interdependencies

An analysis that illustrates the way in which this project may

affect, or be affected by, others.

Success criteria

A set of measures by which to describe a successful project

outcome.

Options considered

An overview, with supporting analysis, which describes the

alternatives to the chosen solution. This should include the

"do-nothing" option.

Selected option

A complete analysis of the selected option, including the

following:

- Risks

What are the risks of the venture?

- Benefits

What are the merits of the venture?

- Costs

What will be the whole-life costs of the venture?

- Cost/benefit analysis

How well, and when, will the benefits outweigh the costs?

- Deliverables and

What are the key deliverables and their due dates?

timescales

- Planning assumptions

What assumptions have been made in developing the business

case?

- Benefits realisation

How will the benefits be measured and delivered?

plan

- Management by

What incentives will be offered (if any) to encourage a

objectives

successful outcome?

How the business case is developed is largely up to the individuals, but what it should look like is more readily described.

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