What is the business case for buying a hot tub?
If it sounds like a silly question, think again. The business case theme in PRINCE2® is a way of weighing up your options and solidifying what you think is the right way forward for a project.
Being able to construct a business case is an essential and transferable business skill for anyone planning change in an organisation, not just a project manager.
So, back to the hot tub: as family holidays have been off the menu this summer, the Nithsdale family needed a business case for what to do instead. That included answering the questions:
- What are the options – do nothing, buy a swimming pool, paddling pool or hot tub?
- What are the likely benefits/disbenefits of each?
- What can the garden accommodate?
- What are the costs?
- How does the investment compare with going to a swimming pool?
- What’s the risk involved?
In our scenario, the business case for a hot tub won. Why was that?
- Using the hot tub every day pays for itself within a month compared to comparative swimming pool visits and is an opportunity for the family to spend quality time together.
- While our children are playing in it, we get a break – which is priceless. And when the kids go to bed, we can use it to de-stress!
- While the hot tub will take up garden space it’s less than a swimming pool and, with careful planning, there is still room for cycling and football practice.
- A risk to manage is maintenance: without this, it will need more cleaning and changing water, leading to higher cost.
The business case at work
Hot tubs aside, the business case helps organizations look at a potential change project and question what will add value and equally importantly, what won’t.
For example, when someone senior in a company envisages a solution which will cure all of the company’s ills, the resulting change is sometimes great but other times unravels pretty quickly.
Even if a business has unlimited resources, the business case identifies the best thing to do and which projects among many to progress. Equally, if circumstances change during a project and the idea is no longer viable, it can be stopped. Ultimately, it’s the foundation on which any project is built.
Business cases – relevant to anyone
Whatever role you have in an organization, if it involves taking stock of what needs to change and how much it will cost, the business case is a universal, transferable skill that underpins everything.
Rather than just rolling the dice for what to do next, the business case supports your choices and should provide a clear justification for decisions you make.
However, this is just part of the value that any business professional can gain from understanding the PRINCE2 method: for project managers who adopt the guidance, they gain authority, control over resources and change the way people work for the better.
As organizations need to evolve and keep pace with competitors to survive, having project management knowledge helps create a broader appreciation of what it takes to achieve successful change.
Even change that begins as an absurd idea – for example, my humble hot tub – once you have a robust business case, you can engage your stakeholders and then it’s full steam ahead.