Every project is different. But every successful project shares at least one common trait - a thorough and robust business case.
The business case supplies the scope of work, financial justification for investment and the project’s benefits.
Through an analysis of its context and risks, the business case should clearly demonstrate the value the project delivers upon completion. It forms the go-to document not only for the project team but also for all stakeholders, partners and senior decision makers involved in the process.
As a strong business case is critical to the success of any project, it is advisable for project managers to seek out training where possible.
For aspiring project managers, the PRINCE2 course is the starting point for understanding the basics. These courses are becoming increasingly accessible. Many managers - particularly self-employed management consultants - may feel apprehensive about the notion of taking a period of time off work to attend a course. But programmes such as the PRINCE2 weekend courses London split learning across two weekends - ensuring candidates can get the skills they need without sacrificing salary in order to do it.
With the proper framework in place, the project manager can create a compelling document. But no business case can be created with the advantage of perfect information - so it must be updated throughout the life of the project as new information emerges.
Where a project runs over a protracted period of time, the financial position of the organisation, its partners or the overall market conditions may change considerably. Therefore the project manager must continuously revisit and question whether the benefits of the project outweigh the risks. For this reason, it is important to keep tailoring and adapting the business case to reflect the current and changing economic conditions in the marketplace.
Occasionally the costs of a project will outweigh the benefits of continuing, and the team may be forced to stop the project. This is a difficult decision to make, but for projects following an agile approach the business justification is constantly being tested. The 'fail fast' principle is central to agile - the rationale being that resources otherwise expended towards an uncertain outcome can be conserved.
But for projects that meet their objectives, the initial business case retains its utility and operates as a rule to measure the overall success.
The business case is a dynamic, living document that guides the project from its outset through to final evaluation. From PRINCE2 London courses through to PRINCE2 courses Dublin, there will be a PRINCE2 course close to project managers across the UK and Ireland. Draw upon these tried and tested frameworks, then apply them with common sense drawn from past experiences.
A comprehensive, compelling and well-crafted business case will often make the difference between overall success and a costly failure.
Image credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock