Archive for August 9, 2011

The continued rise of the Business Case

August 9, 2011

The other sort of Business Case (see what I did there)

Anyone who has tried to do anything different in Local Government over the past few years has probably been asked the same question:

‘Have you completed a Business Case?’

Most councils will have their own template for the initiating staff member to complete. The enthusiastic employee will, in all likelihood, be asked to detail the cashable and non-cashable savings and analyse tangible and non-tangible benefits. They will be asked to look at the cost of implementing the project, identify how the funding will be accessed and possibly asked to complete some form of complex return on investment calculation.

I am a big supporter of the business case model. It forces managers to think seriously about the costs of what they propose to do and tries to force people to identify the benefits as well. It reminds managers and project proposers that the money they are spending is ‘real’ contributed by tax payers or borrowed prudentially with the requirement to repay interest against that.

It also provides a useful tool to compare different projects.

However, as we get more sophisticated with our business cases we also get more reliant on them to tell us everything we need to know about the decisions we choose to make.

A few years ago I was talking about a project I was running to a more senior colleague of mine from another local authority. I was bemoaning the fact that I was finding it difficult to identify the savings and benefits from my project in numerical terms although anecdotally I was certain there were real benefits from the project.