This page introduces the point of entry (PoE) phase, the starting point of business case development. It explains why it is important, and how to have the conversations and gather the information you need and how to record it, and complete this phase.

If you are preparing to start the PoE phase, please talk to your investment advisor or email to get started.

What is the purpose of the point of entry phase?

The purpose of a PoE phase is to discuss and reach agreement on how the activity/potential investment should progress through the Business Case Approach (BCA). This includes:

  • developing an initial view on whether a potential investment is well aligned to strategic priorities
  • making a clear decision on the best place to start development of a business case, and the resources that will be needed
  • understanding the likely issues well enough to be able to make informed decisions on business case scope
  • agreeing and recording key information, including decisions.

The PoE phase ensures that business case work is well positioned. Double-up effort can be minimised by:

  • considering the context and scale of the problem or opportunity
  • identifying relevant work that has already been done.

The PoE phase is meant to be a brief exercise using the minimum appropriate resource. The focus is on discussion and critical thinking to ensure fit-for-purpose effort and readiness to progress. 

It is critical to record the outcome of a PoE phase, including any recommendations, so it can be clearly communicated to decision makers and stakeholders.

The BCA is aligned with the international Better Business Cases (BBC) and New Zealand Treasury BBC framework, and the PoE is equivalent to the BBC scoping document.

The diagram below shows where the PoE phase fits within the framework of business case development pathways.

View larger image [JPG, 218 KB]

When would I begin the point of entry phase?

Common reasons for starting a PoE include:

  • a need for investment has been indicated in a policy or a national, regional or local strategic plan such as an activity management plan (AMP) or regional land transport plan (RLTP), or even a national programme business case
  • the problem owner now wishes to address, start investigation on and unlock business case funding for a programmed project  
  • a council or other stakeholder has identified that a level of service (LoS) isn’t being achieved, or that an existing activity isn’t delivering value for money
  • the identification of an entirely new problem (an emerging issue) through monitoring, customer feedback or some other source.

When is endorsement of a point of entry required?

Formal endorsement of a PoE is required when applying for funding for the first phase of a business case from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

For example, if the next phase after the PoE is a programme business case (PBC), and there is no previously endorsed PoE for this work, the funding request must be accompanied or preceded by a request to endorse the PoE.  

There are also some situations where is it good practice to apply the discussion and critical thinking that a PoE uses, even when endorsement is not required:

  • whenever you are starting a further phase of a business case, for example, a single-stage business case that is part of an endorsed programme – even if this is a simple check against the endorsed PoE to see if anything has changed, it can help with scoping of the next phase and make sure nothing critical is missed
  • if there has been a break in the work being carried out on the business case, for example if it is put on hold for any reason – in this situation, it is worth checking in with the PoE, and asking if anything significant has changed, before work re-starts
  • when starting a business case for an activity that is included in an activity management plan (AMP) – endorsement of a PoE is not required for an AMP, however, there will often be some thinking and discussion needed to understand the scope of work needed, and the best pathway for developing the business case.  

Starting the point of entry

In the PoE phase you will use discussions and critical thinking to explore the background to the investment and decide how best to develop a business case. The record of the point of entry (see below) is used to capture the outcome of these discussions.

Start talking with your NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) investment advisor at an early stage to get advice on how to carry out the PoE. If you don’t know who your investment advisor is, email  

Engagement in the point of entry

Effective engagement with stakeholders is a core part of any business case. For each phase of a business case you will need to think about the engagement required for that phase when scoping work and estimating costs.

This process of planning for effective engagement throughout a business case starts in the PoE. You have already spoken to your NZTA investment advisor – now think about who else you need to involve in your PoE conversation.

For example, you may also need to talk to one or more stakeholders to find out what they already know about the topic, and understand how they might expect or want to be involved. Think about colleagues and subject matter experts who may have established relationships or existing knowledge that will help you understand the investment.  

Formal engagement planning is good practice, and there are a number of approaches available. For information on effective engagement planning, see our information sheet.

Point of entry: relationship management [PDF, 870 KB]

For more information on engagement in the BCA, see our detailed guidance. 

Engagement and the Business Case Approach

Applying critical thinking in the point of entry

When considering the potential investment, keep these tips in mind:

  • Approach the PoE with an open mind, rather than rather than with an already firm view of the output or solution. Focus on the outcomes that the investment needs to deliver. What are the main strategic objectives or goals that this investment should contribute to?  
  • Consider existing work carefully: does it stand up to scrutiny? Is it supported by evidence? What gaps may need to be addressed in the next phase?
  • The PoE is more about asking questions than finding answers – those will come later. Approach discussions with a genuine spirit of enquiry, and don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions – these will only get harder to answer as the business case progresses.
  • Remember the purpose of the PoE is not to do the business case – it’s about deciding where to start, and planning how the business case should be developed. 

Some key tools to assist with your PoE discussions include:

During the point of entry phase

The PoE phase is about determining how the BCA is going to be applied, not doing the business case itself.  

  • Focus on your current understanding of the problem and what you want to achieve out of any investment. Start outlining the problem/opportunity that has triggered the PoE phase, and how responding to it meets the direction and priorities of your organisation.
  • Review any existing documents or related work, including records of discussions with or about stakeholders. Do they address some of the information requirements for earlier stages of a business case, or are you starting with a blank sheet?
  • Conduct a gap analysis against key actions of the five cases based on any previous work and investments such as council plans, strategies or previous business cases that may help answer the questions required at each phase.
    Five-case model
  • Consider the risk and complexity of the potential problem/opportunity, and the possible outcomes, in terms of fit-for-purpose effort required.
  • Based on your gap analysis and identified risks and complexities, think about the project approach and the scope required to the next investment decision gate. Carefully consider what your next decision gate will require in terms of deliverables.
  • Think about what tools would be appropriate to use in your next step, for example investment logic mapping (ILM), 5 whys or other methods of defining problems and benefits, stakeholder engagement tools and technical assessments, such as geotechnical assessments.
    Defining problems and benefits
    Investment logic mapping

Agreeing on the business case pathway

An agreed business case pathway allows project owners to have confidence in the scope required to reach the next investment decision gate, resources required (including funding), governance and other key aspects identified to address the risks, uncertainties, and complexities of the project.

In collaboration with a NZTA investment advisor, the PoE discussions and critical thinking will help determine the subsequent business case pathway of the activity.

If a business case is the next step, it is important to briefly consider the remaining phases through to implementation. This will provide decision makers with clarity regarding the forward pipeline of work.

The project approach may include information that has already been prepared by your organisation for your own internal purposes. The format is flexible, as long as there is the key information of how the project is going to be progressed.

The business case pathway needs to be demonstrative of the level of existing information, and the risk and complexity of the investment. Further advice on assessing risk and complexity, and finding the appropriate pathway for your business case, see our detailed guidance:

Your proposed business case pathway will be recorded in the ‘Project approach’ section of the record of PoE.

Point of entry for structures (including bridges)

The PoE requirements for business cases about the potential replacement of existing structures are relatively consistent from case to case. Because of this, specific guidelines have been developed to help maintain consistency of practice and reduce the amount of effort needed to complete the PoE and plan the business case pathway.

The following guidelines include information on how the present value end-of-life (PVEOL) analysis should be used to support decision-making regarding existing structures.

Point of entry for structure replacement [PDF, 715 KB]
Bridge replacement at end-of-life [PDF, 160 KB]

Completing the record of point of entry

The purpose of recording the PoE is to describe the problem/opportunity and likely outcomes of addressing it, and the expected scope required to complete the next phase. Having a documented record also means you can explain your thinking later on.

Before you complete the record of the PoE you will already have had the necessary conversations and explored your thinking, the relevant information you have or need and discussed options for applying the business case approach to the project, as detailed above.

We’ve developed the record of PoE template to help you capture the appropriate information.

Record of point of entry template [DOTX, 63 KB]

Remember to keep it brief – the record of the PoE is simply there to record the main points and findings of the PoE conversation. Focus on describing the gaps between ‘what is currently known’ and ‘what needs to be known’ about the investment, and how these will be addressed in the next phase.

Project approach section

The ‘Project approach’ section of the record of the PoE refers to how the BCA is going to be applied to the activity. This includes the business case pathway and the agreed scope that reflects how the identified risks, uncertainties and complexities are going to be addressed. This section also includes anticipated timeframes and resources required, such as NLTF investment. The project approach may include information that has already been prepared by your organisation for your own internal purposes. The format is flexible, as long as there is the key information of how the project is going to be progressed.

Finalising the point of entry phase

  • You should agree your recommendations with your NZTA investment advisor before finalising the record.
  • You also need your organisation’s sign-off, as continuing beyond the PoE means committing time and resources.
  • Make sure the record is filed where it can be easily retrieved for future reference. This will save time later if a same or similar problem/opportunity arises.
  • Once endorsed, PoE records should be uploaded to Transport Investment Online (TIO) as supporting documents for the phases to which they apply.
    Transport Investment Online(external link)

Assessing the point of entry

How do I know if the point of entry is complete?

This will depend on how complex the investment is, and how much risk or uncertainty is involved.

You should work with your NZTA investment advisor throughout the PoE phase. They will be able to help you get the level of detail right and avoid missing any important information.

Before deciding whether your PoE is ready to submit for assessment, check in with your NZTA investment advisor.

What does NZTA look for when assessing a point of entry?

When assessing applications to endorse a PoE, NZTA will seek assurance that the PoE has been adequately developed.

As a principles-based approach, there is no checklist of specific actions to follow to ensure that NZTA’s expectations regarding the PoE are being met. However, when assessing a PoE for endorsement there are some general questions that assessors will consider, to check that the relevant principles are being followed, including: 

  • Is there a clear, concise explanation of where the perceived need for investment comes from? For example, it could be:
    • indicated in a strategy or plan
    • a response to new or changed circumstances
  • Is it clear what work has already been done, and what still needs to be done? Is this explained in terms of the key actions from the key actions table?
    Key actions table – by Business Case Approach phase and the five-case model [PDF, 399 KB]
  • Is it clear that the problem owner has thought about the sources of risk and uncertainty that are likely to be encountered, and how these will be addressed during development of the business case?
  • Is it clear how the strategic case will be completed, including:
    • What approach will be used to define problems and benefits, and how will this enable you to meet the principle of informed discussion?
    • If ILM will be used, will this be facilitated by an accredited facilitator?
    • What stakeholder planning has been or will be done to involve the right people in informed discussion?
    • How will decisions be made about whether the case for change is strong enough to justify continuing?
  • Is there a clear scope of work for the next phase? Does this include realistic cost estimates, and are those estimates consistent with the complexity, risk and uncertainty involved?
  • Is it clear what further phases might be needed to complete the business case through to implementation? What decision gates are likely to be needed? What are the expected timings for key decisions?
  • Do the levels of complexity, risk and uncertainty require a bespoke governance structure, or can the work be managed through existing governance arrangements?

What happens next?

  • Your organisation decides whether to advance to the business case process based on the recommendation you have agreed, and the PoE is signed off by the problem owner.
  • Your NZTA investment advisor will advise you on what the PoE decision-making process will be, which will depend on the scale, risk and significance of the project. They will also advise you on the outcome.
  • If the PoE is approved, funding is approved in TIO to complete business case development.

Resources and further information


Learning modules

Information sheets

Need support?

It is important to talk to us at an early stage of developing your business case. Contact your NZTA investment advisor or email the Business Case Process team at