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The Business Case – A Key Artifact of A Project Managed As Per PRINCE2

One of the key deliverables in the process of initiating a project managed using the PRINCE2 methodology is to create the business case document. A project in PRINCE2 is defined as ‘A management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case’. What is a business case document? Why is it important to create one? What are the key decisions made using the business case document when initiating a project? How will the business case help in managing and controlling a project and in ensuring that the project continues to deliver business value? This article aims to address above questions.   Why create a Business Case document? A business case is mainly used to document the justification for undertaking the project, based on the estimated cost of development and implementation against the risks and anticipated business benefits and savings to be gained. It is a justification for an investment based on the costs versus the anticipated business benefits of the solution option selected for implementation.  The business case is a primary mechanism of project decision-making and is a means of assessing alternative and competing investment / solution options.  When should you create the Business Case document? For organizations following PRINCE2, to get to the point of creating a business case document itself involves a big process. Requirement for projects arise from different sources. For example strategic level stakeholders may have strategic objectives that they wish to fulfill which may result in projects. Similarly tactical managers, functional managers and even operational staff may have problems that need to be resolved or business opportunities that they want to take advantage of which may result in projects. The context or the environment that they operate in and the stakeholders involved too may have an impact in creating requirements for new projects. A project mandate would first of all be generated once a business need such as above is identified. The scope inclusions and exclusions of the project should be identified and will help identify solution options to meet such requirements. The initial group of individuals would then be generating solution options to solve the identified problems or opportunities. For each solution option a detailed feasibility study should be done along the four main feasibility study dimensions of operational feasibility, technical feasibility, time feasibility and cost-benefit feasibility. This would help the team identify the advantages and disadvantages of each solution option and help select the most suitable solution option. This analysis must also include an initial assessment of the cost, potential timelines and the risks involved. Creating the Business Case and sections of the document The business case documents the justification for undertaking the project, based on the estimated cost of development and implementation against the risks and anticipated business benefits and savings to be gained. The content for the document is based on the analysis explained above. The sections of a properly formulated business case are as listed below. Executive Summary – Summary of the content of the business case document including details about the organization, business problem  / opportunity, key stakeholders, solution options evaluated and the solution option selected. Reasons for the project – Reasons as to why the project is needed including analysis of the current state, the future state and an identification of the gap. Solution options – The different solution options evaluated outlining the rejected solution options and detailing out the preferred solution option. Feasibility analysis – A summary of the feasibility analysis done on the identified solution options. Expected benefits for the selected solution option with explanations and assumptions. Expected disbenefits for the selected solution option with explanations. Summary of project costs taken from the project plan. If the project plan is not created yet it would be good to have an outline cost for the selected solution option. Investment appraisal – The organization may do an ROI, NPV, IRR analysis to ascertain the potential viability and benefits from the project. Risk analysis listing out a risk log with positive and negative risks along with risk mitigation strategies. Timescales – Outline execution plan that will be detailed out in the Project Initiation Document (PID). Continual assessment of project progress using the Business Case The business case document provides a blueprint based on which project progress can be monitored by the project manager and the project board. It provides a means for continuing to assess the viability of the project. In PRINCE2, the Project Board normally reviews the business case at the project initiation stage, end of each project stage, when any exceptions arise and at stage or project closure. The business case would be the main input to create the Project Initiation Document (PID) for the selected solution option. Some teams put a summary of the business case findings as a section in the PID document itself and use it to make an elevator pitch to the business sponsor and other senior executives of the project board. Once the project is approved, the project manager is assigned and he would create the project charter document with key inputs from the business case. The Project Manager and the Project Board will monitor the ongoing viability of the project against the business case. At the end of each stage or iteration the relevant stakeholders will sit together, evaluate the deliverables related to both the product and the process against the expected benefits identified in the business case to ascertain whether the business value set out to achieve is being met. Decisions to get the project back on track would thus be based on the baseline intentions defined in the business case. Finally, the business case is used to assess whether benefits are achieved when the project is delivered through a post implementation review.  The business case is not a constant. It may change multiple times during the lifetime of the project. Evaluation at the end of each iteration or stage will help the project team and the project board realizes that changes are required in terms of objectives, expected business value, scope or even timelines. Hence, the initial business case may become invalid and thus be required to be updated with the consensus of the key stakeholders.  The discussion above is just an introduction to the ocean of creating business case documents. Hope this will inspire you to further dive into this ocean.
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The Business Case – A Key Artifact of A Project Managed As Per PRINCE2

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The Business Case – A Key Artifact of A Project Managed As Per PRINCE2

One of the key deliverables in the process of initiating a project managed using the PRINCE2 methodology is to create the business case document. A project in PRINCE2 is defined as ‘A management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case’.

What is a business case document? Why is it important to create one? What are the key decisions made using the business case document when initiating a project? How will the business case help in managing and controlling a project and in ensuring that the project continues to deliver business value? This article aims to address above questions.


 

Why create a Business Case document?

A business case is mainly used to document the justification for undertaking the project, based on the estimated cost of development and implementation against the risks and anticipated business benefits and savings to be gained. It is a justification for an investment based on the costs versus the anticipated business benefits of the solution option selected for implementation.  The business case is a primary mechanism of project decision-making and is a means of assessing alternative and competing investment / solution options. 



When should you create the Business Case document?

For organizations following PRINCE2, to get to the point of creating a business case document itself involves a big process. Requirement for projects arise from different sources. For example strategic level stakeholders may have strategic objectives that they wish to fulfill which may result in projects. Similarly tactical managers, functional managers and even operational staff may have problems that need to be resolved or business opportunities that they want to take advantage of which may result in projects. The context or the environment that they operate in and the stakeholders involved too may have an impact in creating requirements for new projects. A project mandate would first of all be generated once a business need such as above is identified.

The scope inclusions and exclusions of the project should be identified and will help identify solution options to meet such requirements. The initial group of individuals would then be generating solution options to solve the identified problems or opportunities. For each solution option a detailed feasibility study should be done along the four main feasibility study dimensions of operational feasibility, technical feasibility, time feasibility and cost-benefit feasibility. This would help the team identify the advantages and disadvantages of each solution option and help select the most suitable solution option. This analysis must also include an initial assessment of the cost, potential timelines and the risks involved.



Creating the Business Case and sections of the document

The business case documents the justification for undertaking the project, based on the estimated cost of development and implementation against the risks and anticipated business benefits and savings to be gained. The content for the document is based on the analysis explained above.

  • The sections of a properly formulated business case are as listed below.
  • Executive Summary – Summary of the content of the business case document including details about the organization, business problem  / opportunity, key stakeholders, solution options evaluated and the solution option selected.
  • Reasons for the project – Reasons as to why the project is needed including analysis of the current state, the future state and an identification of the gap.
  • Solution options – The different solution options evaluated outlining the rejected solution options and detailing out the preferred solution option.
  • Feasibility analysis – A summary of the feasibility analysis done on the identified solution options.
  • Expected benefits for the selected solution option with explanations and assumptions.
  • Expected disbenefits for the selected solution option with explanations.
  • Summary of project costs taken from the project plan. If the project plan is not created yet it would be good to have an outline cost for the selected solution option.
  • Investment appraisal – The organization may do an ROI, NPV, IRR analysis to ascertain the potential viability and benefits from the project.
  • Risk analysis listing out a risk log with positive and negative risks along with risk mitigation strategies.
  • Timescales – Outline execution plan that will be detailed out in the Project Initiation Document (PID).

Continual assessment of project progress using the Business Case

The business case document provides a blueprint based on which project progress can be monitored by the project manager and the project board. It provides a means for continuing to assess the viability of the project. In PRINCE2, the Project Board normally reviews the business case at the project initiation stage, end of each project stage, when any exceptions arise and at stage or project closure.

The business case would be the main input to create the Project Initiation Document (PID) for the selected solution option. Some teams put a summary of the business case findings as a section in the PID document itself and use it to make an elevator pitch to the business sponsor and other senior executives of the project board. Once the project is approved, the project manager is assigned and he would create the project charter document with key inputs from the business case.

The Project Manager and the Project Board will monitor the ongoing viability of the project against the business case. At the end of each stage or iteration the relevant stakeholders will sit together, evaluate the deliverables related to both the product and the process against the expected benefits identified in the business case to ascertain whether the business value set out to achieve is being met. Decisions to get the project back on track would thus be based on the baseline intentions defined in the business case. Finally, the business case is used to assess whether benefits are achieved when the project is delivered through a post implementation review. 

The business case is not a constant. It may change multiple times during the lifetime of the project. Evaluation at the end of each iteration or stage will help the project team and the project board realizes that changes are required in terms of objectives, expected business value, scope or even timelines. Hence, the initial business case may become invalid and thus be required to be updated with the consensus of the key stakeholders. 

The discussion above is just an introduction to the ocean of creating business case documents. Hope this will inspire you to further dive into this ocean.

Rumesh

Rumesh Wijetunge

Chief Innovation Officer - Zaizi Limited, Chief Operating Officer - LearntIn (Pvt) Ltd., Director /

Rumesh is an IT business leader with over 12 years of industry experience as a business analyst and project manager. He is currently the CIO of Zaizi Limited, a UK based data management company heading the operations in Sri Lanka, the COO of LearntIn, a global training institute based in Sri Lanka and is also a lecturer / trainer at multiple private universities on management, IT, business analysis and project management subjects. He is the current president of the IIBA Sri Lanka chapter and is one of the most qualified and sought after trainers in Sri Lanka. Refer his LinkedIn profile for more details and to see more articles he has written on linkedin

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The following ways will surely help you to become efficient in your study and get equipped with all the knowledge that you need to crack your PMP® exam:If you have access to the workshops conducted by PMI then that would be a big benefit for you. This will also help you to receive the bundle of 35 credit hours which are necessary to qualify for your PMP® application procedure. Attending a PMP® boot camp gives you access to numerous benefits. Few of them are:1.Review everything which you need to cover on the examEverybody is oblivious about what he or she is going to encounter during the PMP® certification exam. Whatever you will find in the exam is sure to be geared from the PMBOK®. This means you should be thorough with the PMBOK® guidelines to get PMP® certified at one go. But the PMBOK® consists of only 75% of what you will see in the exam. What about the rest? You need to seek for a PMP instructor’s guidance in order to fill the gap in learning to qualify your PMP® certification exam.2.Review how to study for the examAs discussed, the PMBOK® guide is a great resource for your PMP® certification exam. At times, even if the questions are lengthy with a situational circumstance, you need to bring it down to a rule that needs to be comprehended. Further, there are certain focus areas on which you need to invest more of your study time than others. It is always better to seek guidance from a professional rather than guessing what you should study.3.Informal questionsIf you lack the idea of how to implement cost, schedule, or risk structure, then it’s a great opportunity for you to understand it. You should learn to shed light on practical application using fundamental examples.You should change your study methods to prepare well for a continuously evolving exam process like the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. These days, this exam is based on PMBOK® Guide 6th edition and is a lot harder than it was in the past. The 4 partially correct choices which are provided for all the questions make it even confusing and raise the level of complication for the candidate.The following tricks are surely going to help you in shaping up your exam:Get aligned with the exam dynamics by spending 30 minutes every day on a free exam simulator.Follow the rule of 85%. Keep practicing mock exams until you score at least 85% in all the model exams. This indicates that you are ready to face the PMP® certification exam.Another important trick is to understand the ‘ITTO TRICK Sheet of 49 processes’ which you can find in the PMBOK® guide. This will really prove helpful to you in mapping all the processes inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques.In order to rightly utilize the 12 minutes after the exam, you need to read and memorize the Formula Trick Sheet. You need to print and paste the same on your desk in order to practice it every day because writing this after 4 hours exam will surely help you to track the questions and save significant time.You need to read and memorize the PMPBOK® 6th Edition 49 Process Chart. Print and paste the same on your desk and practice it every day until you can draw the chart within 8 minutes.To wrap it upWhen you begin with your preparation for PMP® certification, you should remember that attaining the PMP® certification shows your commitment to the profession of project management and demonstrates your credibility to earn more as well as raising the value of your resume above the non-certified professionals. Keeping these points in mind will surely help you to avoid getting discouraged during your certification process.You can also learn more about PMP® certification hereThis blog throws light on a few best practices along with some tips and tricks to smoothly proceed with your PMP® journey. It is important for you to set a standard time for your studies other than having a thorough understanding of the PMBOK® guide. So, start clearing your calendar to fit in your daily study time as PMP® needs a lot of thorough studies and is not an easy path to success.
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A Comprehensive Guide to PMP® Exam Preparation

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