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Through the application of the Business Case Approach the NZ Transport Agency aims to give clear and early planning and investment signals to provide stakeholders with investment confidence.

A project’s business case is built progressively, and the work that needs to be done and the questions that need to be answered are gathered into phases. Not all projects will progress through all phases – applying fit-for-purpose effort will mean that sometimes phases can be skipped or combined, but the same investment questions will still need to be answered.

Click for larger image [JPG, 207 KB] (external link)

For business case principles information that is more relevant to other non-infrastructure projects through the NZ Transport Agency, see the planning and investment section of the Transport Agency website.

The Transport Agency Investment Assessment Framework (external link) is used to assess business cases for support and investment approval. The assessment profile is progressively developed through the business case process and is confirmed in full at the detailed business case.

Business case stage Strategic fit assessment Effectiveness assessment Efficiency assessment
Strategic case Indicative Indicative (conditional where appropriate) Not applicable
Programme business case Confirmed Indicative (conditional where appropriate) Indicative (conditional where appropriate)
Single stage business case Various (combination of IBC/DBC) Various (combination of IBC/DBC) Various (combination of IBC/DBC)
Indicative business case Reconfirmed (continued alignment) Confirmed Indicative (conditional where appropriate)
Detailed business case Reconfirmed (continued alignment) Reconfirmed (continued alignment) Confirmed

Sixteen questions framework

In addition to the application of the Investment Assessment Framework (external link) , the Transport Agency also considers the strength of the business case using a framework of 16 questions in arriving at its decision to provide support. The sixteen questions are designed to enable decision-makers to quickly assess the strength of a completed strategic case or business case, and therefore whether or not the proposed investment is worth proceeding with.

Answering 'yes' to all or most of the questions gives decision-makers the confidence that:

  • There is a real problem and it needs to be addressed at this time;
  • The benefits of successfully addressing the problem are of high value to the organisation;
  • The way in which the problem will be addressed is both strategic and innovative; and
  • The solution is likely to be delivered within time and cost expectations.

Not all of the questions need to be answered at each decision point. For example:

  • For a strategic case, answer columns 1-2;
  • For a programme or indicative business cases, answer columns 1-3;
  • For a single stage, indicative or detailed business case, answer columns 1-4. 
Strategic case Programme business case Indicative/detailed business case
Problem Benefits Strategic response Solution
Is it clear what the problem is that needs to be addressed (both the cause and the effect)? Have the benefits that will result from fixing the problem been adequately defined? Have a sufficient range of strategic alternatives and options been explored (demand, productivity & supply)? Consistent with the strategic alternatives and options, have a reasonable range of project options been analysed?

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Is there evidence to confirm the cause and effect of the problem? Are the benefits of high value to the organisation(s) (furthering its/their objectives)? Is it clear what strategic alternatives and options are proposed and the rationale for their selection? Is the proposed solution specified clearly and fully (all business changes and any assets)?

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Does the problem need to be address at this time? Will the KPIs that have been specified provide reasonable evidence that the benefits have been delivered? Are the proposed alternatives and options the most effective response to the problem (comprehensive and balanced)? Is the proposed solution the best way to respond to the problem and deliver the expected benefits?

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Is the problem specific to this investment (or should a broader perspective be taken)? Are the KPIs both measurable and totally attributable to this investment? Are the proposed alternatives and options feasible? Can the solution really be delivered (costs, risks, timeframes, governance, etc)?

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

Yes / Maybe / No?

Comment:

The framework is intended to be flexible so that in addition to assessing a completed strategic case or business case, it can also be used by business case developers at key decision points in the business case process such as prior to submitting the strategic case to the Client.

As well as completing the checklist it is important to consider, on the basis of the overall assessment, how closely what you NEED to know compares to what you DO know of the investment at that particular point in the business case lifecycle.

After analysing this investment decision checklist, you should be able to form an opinion based on your own judgement on the strength of the case for change.

For further information contact outcomeplanning@nzta.govt.nz.

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