We do not need a business case.

Project Manager (PM) – I have looked at the ideas around the project you mentioned recently and wanted to talk about it.

Project Sponsor (PS) – What, you haven’t started the project yet?

PM – I have, but not in the way you are referring to. I have developed a business case which I want to talk through.

PS – What’s a business case?

PM – It is a process that among other things analyses;

• the business benefits of carrying out the project
• it looks at rates of return
• looks at initial risks
• looks at the priority of the project

There are some interesting things coming out of the business case study you should be aware of

PS – Such as?

PM –

• the business benefits – as I see it (others agree with me) there is one key benefit – improving throughput on processing by around 12%. The key question is this; is that benefit worth the 9 months of project management time, client time and the £55,000 training and software costs

• risks – this software you have suggested is untried. No one has used it before and I believe this is a big risk for us to take on. We are guinea pigs for the software company. Because it is so new, the software may need customising which will cost extra and take more time

• priority of this project – the southern team are undergoing a big re-organisation. There is already training scheduled for everyone on the new telephone system in place. Plus we are losing 4 staff in the next 3 months and recruitment freeze will mean extra pressure on the teams. I am unsure as to the priority of this project

• return on investment – this is more complex however finance have calculated that the return on this investment will take nearly 2 years. It is not a fixed estimate – more a quick look however it is something we should consider and look at in more detail

• the project team – we already have 4 major projects under way. With this and all of the above I do not think we should tackle this one.

Having heard all of this, what are your thoughts?

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4 Responses to We do not need a business case.

  1. Jeff Clark says:

    Every project should have a business case, and it should be the sponsor who assures it is developed. This scenario is backward, the PM bringing a business case to the sponsor unrequested.
    What the business case covers, the level of detail and financial accuracy and the extend to which proposed benefits are tracked is subject ot the corporate culture at the time. In a mature organization the timing, responsibilities and consequence of business case are well understood by everyone.
    Finally, when that next reorganization comes around, it is far better to have already completed this as you explain why you’re working on it.

  2. As the Monty Python crowd would say – “run away, run away.”

  3. admin says:

    Jeff thanks for your comments. I agree with your sentiments about every project needing a business case however….you mention mature organisation. Many organisations are not mature. Yes, the sponsor should ensure the business case is developed however I have seen many times situations where the sponsor does not understand the need for the business case – not every idea, is a good idea!

    In those cases, the scenario is spot on. If the sponsor does not ensure it is done, the project manager should take responsibility for developing the business case and discussing it with the sponsor or project executive.

    I liken the business case to a gate to go through, where consideration of many aspects (some mentioned in the scenario) have been considered. Many, ‘projects’, possibly this one, may not get past the 1st gate!


  4. admin says:

    Glen, thanks for the run away comment. For some reason on reading your words the architect scene came to mind – it must be the rotating knives part….maybe we should use the knives to reduce the number of projects and note the 2nd part of the sketch…http://bit.ly/4nSIWY


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