In my world, there’s increasing mention of the word ‘robust’, and in particular how it refers to documentation being put forward to rationalise investments and assist in decision-making.
Some years ago, the Treasury, New Zealand’s lead advisor to the Government on economic and financial policy, released the Better Business Case model as a guide for this purpose. It’s essentially an adaptation of a similar model used overseas but tailored for our local needs.
From experience, some government departments within New Zealand have taken the last few years educating their teams and have successfully integrated the required thought process around all their potential projects. This alone as changed behaviours and expectations, streamlined processes, and enhanced accountability.
However, unfortunately, there are still some departments that have evolved the model into being more about developing hugely large document production exercises, when this is not what it’s really about.
A decision-maker needs to be able to succinctly determine the justification of an investment through the visibility that all elements have been legitimately thought through and key stakeholders engaged with during the process. The argument is strong. It helps support and validate their decision.
The business case is simply a mechanism to capture the ‘what’ is being considered, ‘why’ it is being considered now, ‘how’ it was considered during the process, ‘who’ was involved and contributed to the thinking, and then the recommended way forward - all in simple English.
Although this may seem simplistic, the concept is the same whether for a $250,000 business case or a $250M business case; of which I have written both.
In essence, the size and length of the business case is irrelevant. Whether you have succinctly answered these questions, is what makes it robust.
Angela Sands is a qualified business case specialist who works with corporate businesses and government departments within New Zealand and Australia to deliver large programme and infrastructure business cases.