Building your technology business case

FinanceOne of the most important tasks of any project is building and maintaining your business case. Unfortunately the business case is so often a single document not covering full life cycle costs and produced to obtain funding approval and never looked at again!

Bad!

In fact your business case needs to document the full cost of the business change you are creating and be monitored for viability on a regular basis.

A business case has many components and will usual vary by organisation and it’s own requirements. However in general a “good” (I use the term to define the scope of a business case not the output) business case will include information on:

  • Background reasons
  • Expected Benefits
  • Anticipated Costs
  • Known Risks
  • Timelines
  • Investment Appraisal and Evaluation

This content will help your organisation ensure that the business cast is justified and that the reason for your project to continue is aligned with overall corporate strategy.

The business case is also a living document. As such you should review and update the contents at regular/various stages in your project, at least when ever something significant happens within or to the project. The project board or steering committee should be reviewing the ongoing viability of the project and if the business case is not longer valid the project should be stopped. Stopping a project is always a political issue however if the benefits no longer outweigh the costs (sunk and future) then it should be stopped.

Best in class organisations also conduct post project reviews including benefit realisation assessments to ensure that the project achieved the expected outcomes.

So does your current technology project have a valid business case?

(Photo Flickr User: alancleaver_2000)

Change management approaches

As I mentioned over the last few weeks I have been through some training in PRINCE2 project management and change management, provided by a local vendor Project Laneways (a bit of plug they are highly recommended and say I sent you), the end result I am a PRINCE2 Practitioner and certified in the Principles of Change Management through the APMG.

As part of the change management course we covered several different approaches to managing change, predominantly based around the book Making Sense of Change Management. The approaches ranged from general ideas, to more detailed frameworks but none really provided a full change management methodology. Which is both good and bad. Good as it allows students to pick and choose the best method of managing change, but bad as there is no detailed process for managing change as with PRINCE2.

Some of the approaches we covered were:

  • Lewin; Three step model
  • Bullock and Batten; Planned change
  • Kotter; Eight steps
  • Cameron and Green; based on Kotter
  • Beckhard and Harris; Change formula
  • McKinsey; Seven S model
  • William Bridges; Managing the transition
  • Senge; Systemic model
  • Stacey and Shaw; Complex responsive processes

The best in my mind are really a combination of Lewin, Bridges, Kotter and McKinsey.

Generation V podcast

Yesterday while I was in the middle of my PRINCE2 course I ducked outside (literally outside in the freezing Melbourne wind) for 30 minutes to participate in The Scoop podcast for MIS Australia hosted by Mark Jones. The topic Generation V, or generation virtual. I was a little uncertain what to expect as the fellow guests are in my mind fairly “heavy hitters”: Gartner VP Stephen Prentice; The Project Factory head of virtual worlds Gary Hayes; and Talent2 CIO recruitment specialist Paul Rush, oh yeah and me.

The podcast starts off with a discussion on virtual worlds but then moves into identity, reputation and trust, we then discuss some fo the impacts for enterprises and recruitment. The podcast ends with all four of us providing tips for CIOs listening to the podcast.