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Author  Sue Taylor – Co-author, PRINCE2 7

November 23, 2023 |

 8 min read

  • Blog

The business case practice in PRINCE2 7 continues to reflect one of the underlying principles of PRINCE2, which remains unchanged from previous editions. PRINCE2 recognizes that ensuring there is business justification to start a project, and that the business justification remains valid throughout a project’s life, is paramount to project success.

In terms of what’s new in PRINCE2 7, the business case chapter now explicitly recognizes the importance of sustainability as an investment consideration and includes discussion of sustainability targets and tolerances as part of the business case. It also calls out the inter-dependencies between all seven performance targets and the potential impacts on the other targets if any one of them changes.

It uses the scenarios, which are threaded through the book, to provide examples and bring the business case practice to life. The changes also aim to bring more consistency with other, related frameworks in the PeopleCert portfolio, such as Managing Successful Programmes (MSP).

Towards greater sustainability in projects

The most striking adjustment in the latest edition is that sustainability is considered explicitly for the first time. Defining sustainability goals and tolerances mirror the critical challenges companies face: for example, is a project truly viable if it undermines commitments to environmental or social governance?

Sustainability drivers have made leaders widen their perspectives of what constitutes a business priority. For instance, whereas before a project priority might have been to reduce cost – and therefore use the cheapest, fastest supplier – now the best option overall may be one that uses more expensive raw materials made from recycled waste. The impact of a course of action on sustainability targets is assessed in the business case.

The sustainability targets are also considered in the context of the other performance targets of time, cost, benefits, scope, quality and risk, and the business case focuses on selecting the best investment option which ensures all targets remain within their tolerance levels.

Different conditions, different decisions

The business case underpins robust investment decision making, and the key role of a business case is to ensure a project is (and remains) desirable, viable and achievable. Does the project have the right balance between costs, benefits and risks? Is it likely to deliver the products required? Will using the products result in improved outcomes and therefore enable the required benefits to be achieved? A well-structured business case will also account for the level of risk involved to achieve the outcomes, providing stakeholders with a consistent view of what is being done and why.

The guidance discusses the impact of changes or unexpected events that may impact projects and their investment rationales. For example, major flooding may force governments to suddenly reappraise their projects and priorities, perhaps by re-allocating funds to rescue and clean-up activities.

As PRINCE2 asserts, it’s perfectly acceptable to stop a project if the outcomes can’t be achieved or if priorities change. Understanding how to stop, change or continue with a project is part of ensuring that every project continues to maintain a robust business justification, or recognising and adapting if the justification no longer exists.

Taking control of your project

I believe it’s very important PRINCE2 accounts for this shift in perspective and the best practice examples it provides. And it’s why I think the latest updates to the business case chapter are going to be so useful to PRINCE2 practitioners. It’s now a more practical illustration of how a business case is used as the control tool through a project and why it’s important to continually revisit the business case to underpin robust decision-making.