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17 March 2009

The spurious bullshit that goes into busness cases

Dave said it;
All these efficiency projects never result in less staff.  Why doesn't someone 'fess up and dmit these projects are so that we can afford to go out and buy things from this and similar corporations?

It's a cynical line, and among all the pessimism out there today about career prospects there is also some optimism that finally project sponsors and going to sit up and pay attention to what is happening on their projects. Well... maybe.

Let me ask you this; how closely does your project's goal align with the goals articulated in your business case?

Does your business case say that the new fangled IT system is going to bring in cost savings or revenues?

How are those revenues derived?  From serious market research?  From historical trends?  From competitor analysis?  A pilot?

And what about the efficiency savings?  I remember another conversation from years ago with someone who had just reviewed the last 2 years worth of business cases across the organisation.  If we had made good on our goals we would have negative staff numbers.

Obviously this is mainly just a rant, but there are also some practical actions you can take to manage these over-promises.

One is draw a diagram showing how the benefits will be realised and how they will flow into the organisation.  Tag all the assumptions and challenge the business cases' author on them.

Another is to provide a capability statement of your end product, rather than say how much money it will make or save.  Clearly delimit the task of building that capability from realising the benefits, which will fall to a senior manager in the operations world.

A third option is to adopt an iterative/incremental build up of a solution.  Then you can make smaller guesses and watch as the benefits are realised and correct as neccessary.

Picture by Daniel Gasienica CC @ Flickr