The business case is implicit in what we do

Not my words but the words of a client.  She is a senior executive asking for some support. Below is the substance of the conversation starting with what do you mean by that?

Client: Well, because of the nature of the business, it’s already within what we do

Ron Rosenhead (RR): Would you mind if I questioned that?

Client: Well….yes …OK

RR: The business case is the justification for the existence of the project on the basis of its benefits to the business or stakeholders. It looks at the financial viability of the project as well as the risk. Does that make sense?

Client: Sure

RR: So, this project, what is the business case? Give me some real benefits of running with it.

Client: (After a pause) Well, ….my hesitation shows we really do not have a business case. But if pushed I would say the real benefits are …….

RR: How common is that among the projects you know about i.e. no business case or one that is not really a true business case?

Client: I would say very few have business cases. That’s my view though.

RR: That’s not a problem. I am after asking you.

Would it be fair to say that the company is running with a wide range of projects and some of these do not fit with the overall strategy of the business?

Client: Well….in my area…well I guess and it is a guess, there are some that are what you would call ‘nice to haves’ rather than ‘must haves’.

RR: OK, thank you for being honest. What do you want to do about this?

Client: Let’s start with this project. We need to develop a business case and I will get the project manager in here, brief him and get one developed this week.

RR: What about the wider picture within your department? What are you going do about all of the projects underway?

Not THIS type of business case...but this!

Not THIS type of business case…but this!

We went on to discuss a wide range of aspects including:

  • resource allocation – are some staff allocated to projects that in actual fact should never have been started
  • risk management – that the number of projects within the business was a risk. I queried whether they had enough staff to deliver them all
  • skill issues – some staff have received project management training other have not. No project sponsor training has ever been organised
  • benefits management – the very loose definition of business benefits within their own projects or the complete lack of any benefits

This client realised that there were simply too many projects, some should never have been started and some had no links to the overall strategy.

What about your company?


Picture: courtesy of

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