The Connection Between Business Needs Assessment and a Business Case
Hi, I’m Richard brew Broo True North PMP Consulting. And this is another installment of Best Practices and Effective Project Management. Today, I’d like to talk about business needs assessment, as it relates to a business case. A business needs assessment is usually done well before our project is approved to begin to determine if the project is even worth undertaking and to make sure that the organization is putting its best foot forward to choose that particular project or a particular project over others.
And I’d like to share with you a brief presentation that I put together regarding business needs assessment in a business cases, and then come back in the end and hopefully wrap this up for us.
So to share my screen. The connection between business needs assessment in a business case. Well, what is the business case? Well, a business case is generated from information gathered while conducting the business needs assessment, and the Project Management Institute defines a business need as the impetus for a change in an organization based on an existing problem or opportunity.
The business case provides the rationale for initiating a project or program. Long verbiage short, a business case helps you determine whether there is a need for a project or a program. Well, what is the business needs assessment? Well, as I said earlier, it’s a pre-project activity that ought to be completed before a project is formally approved and resourced. It will be used to create a business case that will help identify, as well as, support the project objectives because the business case is the main impetus, the main input if you will, to the project charter. It’s a gap analysis, an exercise that compares current organizational performance to a desired organizational performance and it basically answers the questions: What is the problem that needs to be solved? Or how can we capitalize on a particular opportunity?
The process is very simple. You identify, qualify and quantify the problem or opportunity. You analyze the organization’s technical and financial capabilities, as well as, available resources, human resources, capital resources, to address the problem or opportunity versus the organization’s current goals and objectives.
And after doing that, there should be a recommended course of action to address this particular business need. And you’re going to use the results of this business needs assessment, this whole process, to construct the business case that will be brought forth to the company management for further consideration.
Bottom line, business needs assessment leads to a business case. The quality of input that you put into a business needs assessment has a direct effect on the quality of the business case, which in turn has a direct effect on the quality of the project charter.
Now, the Project Management Institute defines a business case as follows, “a documented economic feasibility study used to establish the validity of the benefits of a selected component, lacking definition, and used as the basis for authorization of further project management activities.”
Again, purposely a business case is used to justify the project and the continued effort to qualify this business need into a business case to see, if it does advance into the project state.
Now, a business case is used to help decision makers verify the following.
- If a proposed project or project phase has value for the organization and will help qualify and quantify that value, as well as, the fund, the risks and constraints surrounding that perceived value.
- A business case helps an organization to make sure that its resources are directed towards the highest value-added projects yielding the best payback period and return on investment.
- A business case should help understand if a project is capable of delivering the benefits described within that business case
- And that the performance of those deliverables can be controlled or monitored very clearly and very objectively.
Now, there are some key elements in a business case. When you construct the business case, these are the things that ought to be included within it.
The first is an executive summary, which is nothing more than a brief one page summary of the project. There should be an introduction of the project, nothing more than a short description of the background of or for the project.
Deliverables, expected organizational benefits and outcomes for the project. Scope. What’s the proposed scope of work? What is going to be done?
This is an important one, business drivers. What’s really driving the need for this project? What’s core and recommendations? What actions or decisions ought to be taken and what are the options and risks if those recommendations or not accepted?
There should be some analysis of the action or decision to be taken. What are the details behind the action to be taken or the decision, including the value proposition? Very important some financial analysis, payback period, return on investment.
A lot of folks don’t take the time to do this, but this is where you’re going to see, am I putting my money in the right place? What are the benefits of undertaking the project, including the assumptions and constraints around those benefits and the options associated with those assumptions and constraints.
Every project will have risk. So if you know of the potential risks associated, if the project was to be undertaken, what, what are they? What’s the potential consequences and if there’s cost associated with those consequences, what are those costs?
And a description of the project work, which is the approach to execute and complete the project, including the description of the project phases or stages. And of course, the critical timing for the proposed project. How long will this project take?
Required resources, what type of resources are you going to need? What type of funding for those resources in order to execute and complete the project? Finally project controls. These are the important ones, project budget, project schedule, and finally, a conclusion, a summary, a summarization, if you will, of the information presented in the business case.
All that said, why is it so important to do a business needs assessment and a business case before a project is formally approved? Well, a business case for a proposed project to project phase, will verify if the project or project phase will have value for the organization. It will qualify and quantify that value.
It will define the risks and the constraints surrounding that perceived value. It will direct the leadership of the company to focus its resources on those projects with the highest value-add that yield the best payback period and return on investment.
And finally, it should confirm if a project can deliver the benefits described in the business case and how the benefits can be achieved.
Remember, project management is not rocket science. It’s one third common sense, one third logic and one third process discipline.
A business needs assessment in a business case, are two tools that help create that process discipline.
I want to thank you very much for your time today. I am Richard Broo, my company is truenorthpmpconsulting.com. If you would like to learn more about business needs, assessment and business cases, please feel free to contact me at www.truenorthpmpconsulting.com, and I will be more than happy to help you.
Until we meet again. Be safe. Be good and have a great day.