THE BUSINESS CASE 5 – Is The Value Achievable?

Making sure your approach is feasible and the best possible approach

CIO brings you an ongoing series on project management from Jed Simms on a vital component of any project: the business case.

Having a value proposition is only of value if it is deliverable. In this section you need to show that the approach you’re proposing (including any technical solutions you are adopting) are feasible and the best approach, and that the associated risks are manageable.

There is always more than one way of approaching any project so what is your proposed approach and why will this deliver the best value to the organization as quickly as possible?

I’m not a great believer in cluttering up the business case with detailed discussions and analyses of multiple alternative approaches; these should been assessed beforehand so that the business case is a clear, single value proposition (and does not give senior management an opportunity to become project delivery option experts). This is not to say that you cannot spell out the other alternatives considered and why they were rejected as part of the proposed approach’s justification.

Key in this section is the risk analysis — can we realise the value? What are the greatest risks? How are they going to be managed?

Hopefully your organisation has a set of common, systemic risks that are consistently scored so as to give you comparable risk profiles across the project portfolio. Systemic risks exist in relation to the delivery of the project, the benefits and risks from the project to the organization, its customers, brand, suppliers and other projects. All of these dimensions need to be assessed on a comparable basis so that management can assess the level of risk this project is proposing vis-à-vis other proposed projects and programs.

High-risk projects can be done IF they are governed and managed as high risk projects. What tends to happen is that they are rated ‘high risk’ and then managed like any other project in the hope that the risks are being managed (somewhere, somehow). This is a recipe for disaster.

One of the best run projects I’ve seen in recent years was high, high risk; but was managed as such; with massive business commitment and involvement and the requisite risk management focus on the project. It was successful (but a lot of hard work).

As part of a project’s risk profile we include the stakeholders as their commitment (or lack of it) as this is always key to getting a successful result.

At the end of this section you need to have established

A) What your proposed approach is, and why it is the best approach for this solution

B) When you’ll deliver what aspects of the project – nb they’ll be looking for progressive delivery of value to reduce the net cost and attendant risks

C) What the risks and risk profiles of the project are, and how they’ll be managed

D) Who the key stakeholders are who you will need to enable and support your success.

How does your business case process compare? Tell me

Further support and useful tools to help you manage your investments, projects and portfolio are available from .

To view the first article in this series, click here.

To view the last article in this series, click here.