Business Cases in an Agile World

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

The business case doesn’t have a great reputation. More often than not it’s viewed or treated as a sales pitch designed to get a project approved. In these cases, it might play down the costs and risks while overselling the expected benefits. That leaves project managers with too little time and too few people to deliver too many elements, and it leaves executives expecting the kind of contribution to their objectives that cannot possibly happen.

Fortunately, things are changing. Business cases are becoming more agile. I don’t specifically mean business cases for ‘large A’ Agile project delivery methods; I’m referring to ‘small a’ agile techniques and approaches being applied to the development of business cases, regardless of the approach being used to deliver that project. Here is where there are opportunities for all of us to improve the way business cases are done, perhaps even getting to the point where they are appreciated for the contribution they make to a successful project outcome.

A living document

The first thing I want to look at is the idea that a business case is a living document. I know that in theory this is what all business cases should be anyway, but in reality, that’s not what happens. Traditionally a business case is written with the intent of getting the project approved with a certain set of…

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"I'm sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth."

- John Lennon

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