Business Cases


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A portfolio can include multiple programs, and/or the projects within a single program can be a portfolio. A portfolio is just a logical grouping of projects under a common leadership structure.

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions, like WorkOtter, are inputs to a decision maker’s judgment process. Any solution should ensure thoroughness and structure the information in a way that allows a decision maker to make a decision. This includes helping the decision maker know what information is firm, what information is fuzzy, how the information was processed, what information was excluded, and what the solution recommends. The decision maker then must assess all the input before factoring in his or her experience or intuition and making the actual decision.

This 7 part Guide to Portfolio Management Essentials walks a decision maker through the different factors of portfolio creating and planning.

Part 1 of 7: Regulate Capacity Utilization
Part 2 of 7: Prioritize the Portfolio
Part 3 of 7: Assess Where Your Program Has Been
Part 4 of 7: Understand Where Your Program Is Today
Part 5 of 7: Drive Where Your Program Is Going
Part 6 of 7: Business Cases
Part 7 of 7: Strategic Elements of the Portfolio

Part 6 of 7: Business Cases

Business cases should ensure that a thorough analysis of the potential opportunity has been performed. If the initial case proves worthy of further pursuit, the program manager or portfolio management team now has an opportunity to identify areas that require additional details or further information. You can consider many factors in a business case, but the program manager has to regulate this process so that it remains efficient.

Business cases typically include the following:

  • An overview of the project, including all the relevant background information.
  • The project objectives, including how they relate to the program and/or business objectives.
  • The scope of the project. At the business case level a good scope description should also include what is out of scope and any other major assumptions relating to the project. Significant risks may also be included.
  • The project execution strategy with key milestones and anticipated impacts (positive or negative) on other projects or ongoing operations.
  • A financial breakdown, including anticipated cash and/or resource flow requirements and financial metrics such as return on investment (ROI) and net present value (NPV). This financial breakdown should also include the maintenance and disposal costs of the project deliverables.

Financial Measures
Return on investment is probably the most popular business case measure for assessing projects and initiatives. However, it is fraught with pitfalls and is the most overrated project selection method. ROI is computed by using a forecast of costs and a forecast of revenue or cost savings. Thus, ROI is dependent on the accuracy of the forecasts for the costs and revenue projections.

If the organization has a history of accurate cost and revenue forecasting, you can have confidence in the ROI numbers. However, if that forecast history is poor, the program manager should discount or ignore the ROI calculations.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.