This page provides further guidance and advice for business case practitioners on applying the five principles that guide engagement in the Business Case Approach (BCA). For an introduction to engagement and the principles, see our page on engagement in the BCA.
Planning the right approach to engagement can be critical to the success of a business case. When you start your engagement planning, it’s a good idea to seek help from specialist teams or experienced colleagues.
Where it is appropriate to partner with others to achieve a system level outcome, this needs to be identified early, designed and planned for intentionally. This supports the key BCA principle of informed discussion, by ensuring that key partners are involved in helping define problems, identify benefits and consider options.
Partnering for outcomes must also reflect the values, principles and relevant priorities of Te Ara Kotahi – Our Māori Strategy, or your local government equivalent where relevant.
Some other points to consider include:
Targeted engagement means:
In other words, the level and nature of engagement must match the reasons for engaging, linked to the specific phase of business case development that you are in.
Right-sizing the effort you put into engagement can be challenging. There are several factors that can help when making decisions about the approach to use, including:
Relationship mapping can help understand your stakeholders and effectively plan the appropriate level and type of engagement to use – bearing in mind this is likely to be different for each stakeholder. For more information on relationship mapping, see the following information sheet.
Estimate how much impact the investment is likely to have on each stakeholder, and how much influence it is appropriate for them to have on decisions. Use this, together with your understanding of how complex a business case is, and how much risk and uncertainty are involved, to inform decisions about the best approach to engagement on a stakeholder-by-stakeholder basis.
You can also use the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) engagement methods tool to help you decide on an appropriate approach to use with each stakeholder:
Waka Kotahi has produced a template for an engagement plan which you can use to help you identify stakeholders, analyse their needs and plan for the right-sized engagement approach to use in each phase. Use this template as a guide and amend as needed. Alternatively, if you have an equivalent document within your own organisation, you can use that instead.
Before a funding decision is made at each development phase, the business case developer must consider the appropriate level of engagement that is likely to be needed in the next phase and allow for this in their scope.
In practice this can be difficult to anticipate, especially in the early phases where there may not be enough understanding of the business case. As a general guide, however, the level and nature of engagement should be appropriate for the phase of business case development you are working in. The following diagram shows how the focus – and therefore the type – of engagement can change as you progress a business case through the development phases:
Read more about the focus for each phase below.
Note that the above relationships are not shown as a strict one-to-one match. As a general rule, the best opportunities for collaboration or involvement will exist in the early phases of business case development, while later phases will tend to focus more on consulting and informing stakeholders.
When planning how and when to engage during development of a business case, keep in mind:
For further guidance on how to pitch engagement at each phase of development, see this table showing engagement actions against the five-case model.
More links to further information, tools and templates to support engagement planning and relationship management are included below. Alternatively, you can use your organisation’s own tools and templates where these are available.
Transparency means that it’s clear to stakeholders what you are engaging about, why they are being engaged and what they can and can’t influence.
Before starting any engagement, consider the following questions:
This principle acknowledges that, where engagement for a business case is led by an approved organisation, it may be appropriate to use the principles, policies and standards of that organisation where these fulfil the same purpose. This can include (but is not limited to) the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 relating to engagement and consultation.
For example, engagement must be:
Engagement example: simple but effective
A business case was being developed to find the best way to improve safety outcomes at a busy state highway T-intersection. The intersection was next to a consented industrial development, which included provision for a new access using a seagull island near to the existing intersection.
A strategic case had already been developed as part of a programme business case for the state highway corridor. The business case developer was now planning a workshop to identify the options available to improve safety. As the developer was aware of the interdependencies between the intersection and access to the adjacent development, she made the decision to involve the developer in identifying and considering options.
At the workshop, the developer was initially sceptical, as they believed they already had a solution that worked for them – the seagull intersection that was included in the consent. But other participants were concerned this option would simply introduce a new source of safety issues, especially as it was so close to the state highway intersection.
The facilitator asked the developer to suspend judgement while other participants came up with their own ideas. In the end a range of ideas were listed, and these were quickly assessed using multi-criteria analysis. By being involved in the process, the developer was able to see how the assessment criteria reflected their own interests as well, as they included the need to enable access to the development.
By the end of the workshop, there was a clear recommended option – to change the state highway T-intersection to a roundabout. By including a fourth leg on the roundabout, there would also be access to the development without the need for a separate intersection nearby.
Because the developer was involved in the workshop and able to see how their views were taken into account, the developer was happy that the right solution had been found and agreed on. Even though the solution differed from the resource consent, they could see everyone’s views had been considered and it was the best-value approach.
This example shows how choosing the right time and the right way to engage with a stakeholder can make a real difference to the outcome. By workshopping options with the right mix of people in the room, an option was found that met everyone’s needs and led to a win-win situation. It also shows how effective engagement doesn’t always need to involve major costs and delays.
Using engagement effectively can sometimes be challenging so it’s a good idea to seek input from an engagement specialist, either in your own organisation or from an external provider. You can also contact your Waka Kotahi investment advisor or email the Business Case Process team at firstname.lastname@example.org