Essentially the Project Management Business Case is used for two purposes. The first is to explain the reasons why a project is needed and what benefits it will bring to an organisation. It is rather like a sales pitch in that regard. Its aim is to get authorization to define the project. Once this has happened, the role of the business case changes to that of a line in the sand. It provides the rationale from which decisions can be made, the boundaries that constrain the project can be clearly seen and referred back to and finally it shows the criteria the project will be judged against in the final reckoning. This is especially important in organisations where project success data is analysed and used.
The Business Case should be USED by the Project Manager to derive the Project Management Plan. It should also be USED by the Project Investment Committee (if there is one). It is OWNED by the Project Sponsor.
The Business Case is owned by the Project Sponsor and not the Project Manager because it is the highest-level justification for beginning a project. Projects are headed up at a high-level by the Project Sponsor who should effectively “own” the project. It is that person who also owns the benefits of the project and provides the crucial link between the project and the overall business. The Business Case will show how the project contributes to, and supports, the corporate strategy. Projects should sustain or increase the competitive advantage of an organisation.
Who actually writes the Business Case? Normally, it is the Project Sponsor and the Project Manager together. They clearly have input from others but they write it.
The types of people of groups that could have input to, or who could contribute information for the Business Case include:
A Business Case can be viewed as a funnel for potential solutions to a problem. At the top of the funnel (and at the start of the Business Case), after the requirement for the project has been set out, there are many potential solutions identified. This is the Options part of the Business Case as described in part 1 of this 3 part article.
As the Business Case develops, the project, its constraints and requirements become better understood. Through the thorough evaluation of alternatives and through proper managerial and financial assessment, an organisation can be satisfied that is has chosen the best solution its stated needs. As the Business Case Funnel continues, options are ruled out or deemed less suitable, until the best fit solution is arrived at. This is the end of the Funnel.