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 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:

  • the activity 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.

Starting the point of entry conversation

The first step is to have an initial PoE conversation. You should start talking with a Waka Kotahi investment advisor at an early stage to get advice and agree the next steps. This may include having a brief meeting with relevant stakeholders to think about the problem/opportunity and draw on existing knowledge. To initiate a PoE conversation, talk to your investment advisor. If you don’t know who your investment advisor is, email  

Applying critical thinking and engaging with stakeholders

When considering the problem further, in consultation with the appropriate stakeholders, it is important to:

  • Approach the issue openly, rather than with an output or solution in mind. Make a genuine enquiry, and keep asking the question, ‘Do we continue?’ If so, ask, ‘Where do we start?’
  • Undertake gap analysis on the information you need: has there already been work done that answers the questions required in a business case? If so, what gaps are there, and how should they be filled?
  • Think about colleagues and stakeholders who may have established relationships or existing knowledge of the problem. Can you leverage off these?

Effective engagement with stakeholders is a core part of business case development and should start at the PoE. More information on engagement in the BCA, see our detailed guidance.

Engagement and the Business Case Approach

Some key tools to assist with your PoE conversations 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/or 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 Waka Kotahi investment advisor, the PoE conversation 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 (2023 update) [DOTX, 67 KB]

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 Waka Kotahi 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 applies.
    Transport Investment Online(external link)

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 Waka Kotahi 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 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 Waka Kotahi investment advisor or email the Business Case Process team at