The business case focuses on the justification for the project including listing any business benefits that will result from the project. It is easy to be too focused on benefits, or even a given level of financial benefits, when you are thinking about whether a project is justified or not.
But you see achieving business benefits, although the most common project justification, is not the only one type of benefits:
This is the most common justification. The project will pay back with business benefits which outweigh the cost and effort involved in running the project.
You must run the project whether there are benefits will not. This compliance might be due to legal requirements, or senior management issuing an order to comply with some aspect of the organization or business.
The project itself will not deliver benefits but it will put something in place that will allow other projects or operations to deliver benefits. Infrastructure projects often fall into this category such as a project to install a new Computer Network.
The project just must be done, even though there are not any benefits in the normal sense of the word and it is not mandatory. Replacing worn out equipment or redecorating are often just maintenance projects.
It may be that for a project for the combined justification of one of the above types of benefit.
Even though your benefits might be justified, you must be clear on what type of benefits those are. There are three different types and you need to be very aware of them. The first distinction between benefits is whether the measurable, that is quantifiable, or not.
If the benefits can be measured, the next divide is whether it will be a financial gain or something else that is quantifiable – this breakdown is shown in the diagram below:
Cash savings are involved. If you replace a high maintenance machine with a low maintenance machine, then you will be able to see the unspent money in the maintenance budget. The financial gain benefit is real money and is of interest to those with financial or business responsibilities Within your organization.
You can measure the benefits, perhaps even in financial terms, but it isn’t real money that you could draw out of an account and hold in your hand.
Perhaps your project will improve the delivery should rule so customers get their orders in two days rather than the present for day turnaround – that is a measurable benefit.
A benefit that you cannot measure meaningfully. In some cases, there is no point to try to measure something with a resulting figure will be vague or even misleading. In other cases, you can see that you have no hope of accurately measuring the benefits at all. It may still be an extremely important benefit though – so it is important you do not ignore not a quantifiable benefit.
Be especially careful if you’re using a method that plays them down as if they don’t matter. Known quantifiable benefits can be incredibly important to the point of justifying the project without need for anything else.
For example, running a project to improve the design of a commercial product may be essential so that you keep pace with competitors and hold market share. It may be hard to prove how many customers then purchase your product solely because of the improvement as some of them may have bought it anyway.
Taking another view, it is easy to fool yourself that you will get all sorts of wonderful non-quantifiable benefits when really you will not. It is important to be brutally realistic and try not to understate or overstate the non-quantifiable benefits.
You may have identified a lot of the benefits of running the project, but it can help to check things out with other people as well. Sometimes they will see extra benefit that you did not and that could end up with your project being better justified then you had originally realized.
Talking to other people can often make for better project as well since someone may identify substantial benefits in a related area that you do not currently intend to include within the project scope.It may be that you could easily take in the above additional area and make the project very much more effective in the process.
You can sometimes improve the value of your project considerably by adjusting the project boundary even if that adjustment does not result in the project being and organization-changing watershed.
The best and most efficient time to make such scope adjustments is at the beginning during project kick-off while the project documentation is still in sketch form and making changes is relatively easy.
Remember that a lot of extra benefit can come from a relatively small amount of extra work using data or information that was originally included within your project.
Here is a list about who to ask about the benefits and potential benefits of your project:
Those who will use what the project will deliver. Ask them if there is anything that would make the deliverables even better.
As an example, including additional storage facilities within a place may save staff time because people will not need to go to a more distant area to fetch things.
Check out what operations and maintenance staff think about the project idea. They may be able to identify defer the benefits or small changes that would lead to significant operational and maintenance savings based on their experience of what is costing a lot now.
It can be helpful to ask customers what they would find useful, or at least sales staff who understand customer needs. Some relatively small extra things can have disproportionately high benefits for customers and make a good impression at the same time.
Organizational managers may find benefits in small additions such as being able to get additional reports form a new Computer System so that they can do a better analysis of usage patterns.
To see whether additional functions would help achieve organizational targets. It could be that it is not worth running a project just to hit one of those objectives, but adding that scope to yours would be a way of achieving it economically.
This is particularly helpful if you are in the charity or public sectors, talk to other organizations to see if they have done something similar. Ask what the scope of their projects were and what benefits they found. Ask them if they would change the scope if they had an opportunity to go back and do the project again.
Talk to suppliers, including internal suppliers within your own organization such as other departments. Draw on their experience of what would work well and make for an even better project, perhaps using new technology to give improved functionality or cheaper operations.