Agile Project Management Processes Grid–Process 2.2 Business Case

In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP Exam Prep PLUS Desk Reference,” he creates an Agile Project Management Processes Grid, and in this series of posts I am covering those in the Initiating Process Group, and the Value-Driven Delivery knowledge area.

To my mind, “Value-Driven Delivery” in Agile covers some of the same ground as “Scope Management” and the quality control aspects of “Quality Management” (quality assurance aspects are covered in the “Continuous Improvement” knowledge area in agile).

Business Case–Definition

It is a written document that explains how the use of the company’s resources is aligned with the creation of the product, service or result that will be created by the project, and that the benefits to the company for doing the project will outweigh any costs and risks.

In other words, it ties together three elements:    the product, the business need (the reason why the customer wants the project done), and the strategic objective of the company (the reason why the company wants the project done).   If the business need goes away, then the project will go away as well.   If the strategic objective of the company goes away, then the project will go away as well.

Business Case–Acceptance Criteria

What are the criteria for accepting or rejecting the business case?   It should accomplish the following:

  1.  Provide context and background of the business environment and need.
  2. Outline options for meeting those needs, and recommending a solution
  3. Defining success metrics for the proposed solution
  4. Analyze the related cost/benefit and financial ratios
  5. Present a compelling case for change that secures executive support
  6. Secure executive approval

The business case should include a business model snapshot, a visual picture that helps illustrate some of the criteria above.   It should include the following elements:

  1. Critical success factors and goals (related to criterion #3 “Defining success metrics” above)
  2. Process maps of the current and future processes (related to criterion #5 “Present a compelling case for change” above)
  3. Opportunities for process improvement (also related to criterion #5)

The process maps listed as element #2 of the business model snapshot should include the following:

  • Roles and responsibilities for the various processes
  • Business rules that affect the various processes
  • Workflow diagrams that show how work gets passed from one process to another

The process map is a high-level visual picture of the major process steps broken down to individual sub-processes if necessary.   It helps improve understanding of business processes by breaking them down into simple visual steps.   This helps identify problem areas such as bottlenecks, processes that do not add value, and gaps where processes could be added that do create value.   It needs to be accurate in terms of its details, but nevertheless easy to red and understand.

Detailing the Solution

Criterion #2 for a successful business case is recommending a solution for meeting the business need described in criterion #1.   This solution is clarified by

  1. Identifying the stakeholders who will be impacted by the solution
  2. Identifying the business systems and processes that will be impacted by the solution (the “process map” is helpful here).

If these elements are present in a business case, it will help make the case to the customer that your company is the right one to do the project, and it will make the case to management that this project is the right one for the company.

The next post is on Process 2.3 “Contracts”.


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