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The case for a business case

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On Wednesday 14th September, The case for a business case was delivered by Peter Langley for the South East Branch at BAE in Rochester. A good number of people supported the event and many good examples and questions came from the floor during the evening.

Peter set out the evening as a three part sandwich, starting with the main crux of his thoughts on why we need the business case. He went into a varied array of examples and quotes from OGC / NAO, academic research and through to Norwegian public sector reports. Demonstrating the interesting use of language used to describe what happens when a weak business case is submitted and the reasons why this invariably drives failure into projects.

He then looked at how we need to continually re-visit the business case through the project lifecycle to ensure it was still a strategic fit to our business and that success will generally only occur post project during the operational phase of the product lifecycle. It is during this phase that benefit delivery needs to be owned and measured within the business otherwise invariable they will not occur.

Political projects were also discussed with the view that they very rarely have someone who will stand up and be counted when the benefits are measured because those benefits are normally flaky and difficult to measure.

We then got to the filling of the sandwich as Peter handed the floor to us (the audience) and we gathered in small clusters of 2 to 4 and discussed our experiences of good and bad business cases and how this had affected the outcomes of our projects. This was an engaging session followed by some interesting views from the floor about the need for context - examples of client and supplier business cases being quite different although in theory they should be intrinsically linked.

Peter ended with an overview of how he has successfully linked value and risk management to deliver a portfolio management tool that ensures a business is working on the right projects through analytical observation rather than subjective reasoning.

All in all, an enjoyable evening where essentially the message was a bad business case will drive the wrong behaviours in project delivery and very little, if any benefits.

Ian Finch


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