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The Vital Role of a Business Case in PRINCE2® projects

PRINCE2 Business case

Crunching the numbers with the Business Case. Discussing how do we answer the big question of “why?” in Project Management.

In project management, success is not solely defined by delivering a product or service on time and within budget. While these are key elements to monitor and consider, true project success of a project is in the alignment of project objectives with organizational goals. The strategic vision of the company laid out by corporate or programme management must be followed, and towing the party line is of critical importance; as much fun as it may be, going rogue leads you to project failure in the long run. This is where the Business Case comes in…

The Business Case is a fundamental element of PRINCE2®

No project management methodology focuses on the Business Case as much as PRINCE2® (Projects in Controlled Environments). A very principle of PRINCE2® is to “ensure continued business justification” and this is upheld by the Business Case itself. So, what is a Business Case? Simply, a document that justifies the existence of an initiative, outlines its’ objectives, and evaluates its feasibility in terms of cost, benefit, and risk.

What does the PRINCE2® Business Case actually do?

The Business Case serves multiple functions throughout the project lifecycle, starting with the very generation of a concept / idea. It provides a simple yet effective rationale in aiding the decision of undertaking the project and clearly states the problem it aims to solve or the opportunity it seeks to seize. In its’ very nature, the blunt mathematics of the document helps stakeholders understand the purpose and potential impact of the project.

Moving on, the Business Case then acts as a guide for project planning and execution. Within the PRINCE2® methodology, projects must be planned and performed on a stage by stage basis. Each stage requires validation against the Business Case to ensure continued desirability, viability and achievability. This approach supports project managers in making informed decisions, adapting to changing circumstances while keeping the project aligned with organizational objectives, which we understand is the key when discussing the topic of a Business Case.

The importance of PRINCE2® benefits realization

Benefits realization is fundamental to plan during the project for post project success. Unlike some other project management approaches that focus solely on delivering outputs, PRINCE2® emphasizes the importance of “realizing benefits”. These benefits are measurable advantages that the host organization expects to gain from the project and its’ outputs. The Business Case identifies these benefits upfront, throughout and at the closing of a project. They are identified, developed, checked over and documented, thus establishing a measure of success beyond the closing of a project and handover of deliverables.

The importance of accounting for 'risk'

Justification has been the common theme so far, discussing why we run projects and how we measure the result… but what can upset this? Risk. Any major project level threatening risks that poke their horns into your project must be monitored and balanced against the expected benefits. By crunching the numbers of costs, benefits, and risks, decisions can be made about resources, mitigation plans, and above all project viability. This detailed approach to risk minimizes the chance of project failure and enhances the degree of success.

In conclusion, the Business Case stands as not just any document in PRINCE2®, but is THE fundamental document which sets out everything we are about to do. It guides decision-making, aligns us with organizational practices, and ensures benefits realization and risk management are managed appropriately. By placing the Business Case at the forefront of project documentation, organizations can focus on delivery of successful outcomes that create value and return on investment. Business Case remains a focal point for clarity and reason, guiding projects towards success. Simply, a business case is “just”.

For more information of justification, reason and alignment in project management, why not join me on one of my upcoming PRINCE2 course. With a major update now in full swing, there is no better time to gain or recertify in this methodology. Call 0800 151 0140 to book on to a date and we can explore this topic right away.

About Harley

Having worked in the industry since 2016, Harley’s experience is vast and knowledge of project management methods is of an elite standard. He has covered a wide variety of roles in a plethora of projects and has worked with some incredible project professionals over the years; there is seldom a scenario that Harley has not encountered.

Residing in Poole, Dorset Harley has specialized in maritime projects and programmes in and around the stunning natural harbour. From project managing major yachting events, to advising on risk management approaches, the natural elements have thrown endless challenges into projects where Harley has strategically extracted the best outcomes from each scenario. These tales make up some of Harley’s most interesting  examples used when delivering his training of which attendees enjoy.

SPOCE is proud to have industry leading pass rates for delegates in the PRINCE2® and APM methods which Harley has played a vital part in achieving. Starting his training career in 2019, he would run sessions such as “what makes the perfect business case?” and the much loved “PRINCE2 Practitioner exam workshops”.

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