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.

Engagement and the Business Case Approach

Principle 1: Engagement supports an approach to partnering for outcomes that is consistent with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

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.

Te Ara Kotahi – Our Māori Strategy

Some other points to consider include:

  • The point of entry (PoE) is the best place to look for opportunities to partner for outcomes. This includes specifically looking for opportunities for partnering with Māori.
  • Advice from Māori advisors can help to identify partnering opportunities. For Waka Kotahi-led investments, the PoE could also be a good point to contact your Pou Ārahi for help.
  • You also need to consider the capability and resourcing of the parties involved.

Principle 2: Engagement is targeted and fit-for-purpose

Targeted engagement means:

  • engaging with the right people
  • at the right times, and
  • in the right ways.

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:

  • The phase of development you are in: In general, earlier phases are where the foundations for the investment will be set, whereas later phases will focus more on identifying and evaluating options. This means it’s important to look for opportunities to collaborate with one or more stakeholders right at the start, whereas in later phases engagement may be more focused on formal consultation (see principle 3 below).
  • The complexity, risk and uncertainty involved with the investment: Also in general terms, engagement for complex or higher-risk/uncertainty investments will need more effort than less complex, low risk/ uncertainty ones. For example, the community engagement you plan when beginning work on a multi-modal programme is likely to be very different to that needed when replacing a single bridge on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.
  • The stakeholders involved: Think about your stakeholders, their different needs and expectations, and use that understanding to decide how and when each stakeholder should be engaged with.

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.

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

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:

IAP2 Engagement Methods Tool(external link)

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.

BCA stakeholder engagement plan template [DOCX, 77 KB]

Principle 3: Engagement is considered at all stages of business case development, starting at the point of entry

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:

Engagement focus throughout business case development

Read more about the focus for each phase below.

Download this diagram [PDF, 161 KB]

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:

  • Plan for engagement right from the start of a business case, beginning in the PoE phase. This might include approaching one or more potential stakeholders or partners while developing the PoE, to help right-size the engagement planning for the next phase of the business case. You can use the Waka Kotahi engagement plan template as a starting point for this planning.
    BCA stakeholder engagement plan template [DOCX, 77 KB]
  • Think about engagement throughout the end-to-end development of your business case, including the expectations this may place on each stakeholder. Keep it real – for example, you don’t want to keep going back to the same stakeholder to engage multiple times on the same investment, especially if that stakeholder’s interest is only marginal at best.
  • If you can, use existing relationships and forums to leverage your investment approach. Think about existing iwi liaison groups, specialist user forums, or other stakeholders who you have an ongoing relationship with. For larger programmes or projects that will span a prolonged period, if there are no existing forums you can use, it may be worth establishing them.
  • When scoping each phase of development, consider the specific engagement needs and opportunities for that phase. Again, this should start in the PoE phase, where you should be thinking about the engagement needs for the initial phase of business case development.
  • Consider the right-sizing aspects of your engagement planning and relationship management. How much effort is likely to be needed? What resources are required, and what are the implications for costs? It’s important to allow for adequate time, resources and funding in your scope for the next phase.
  • Aim to get the right amount and type of engagement at each step – don’t simply plan to do more. It’s about aiming to use the right amount of engagement with the right people, at the right times and in the right ways. Use your understanding of the complexity, risk and uncertainty of the investment, together with the likely impact on stakeholders, to decide what is needed.
  • When estimating costs, allow for the engagement needs of each phase before you start work on that phase. Make sure you include engagement costs in the amount of funding you seek for the phase, and that they are realistic for the complexity, risk and uncertainty involved.
  • Don’t simply assume that statutory consultation is the only form of engagement needed. Instead, wherever appropriate look for opportunities to ensure the right stakeholders are part of the project from the start.

For further guidance on how to pitch engagement at each phase of development, see this table showing engagement actions against the five-case model.

Table of engagement actions in the five-case model [PDF, 996 KB]

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.

Principle 4: Engagement is transparent

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:

  • What is the issue you are engaging on or the problem or opportunity you are trying to solve?
  • Why are you engaging – what is the purpose or purposes of engagement?
  • How will you describe that to stakeholders or potential partners?
  • Are any statutory obligations involved?
  • What level of impact can stakeholders expect to have on decisions? How well does this match their own expectations? Are there any non-negotiables, either for the activity or for stakeholders?
  • How will you keep stakeholders informed and address queries as you progress?
  • What happens when engagement ends? Will you maintain relationships with stakeholders? What will that look like, and what are the resource/cost implications?

Principle 5: Engagement is consistent with statutory requirements and Waka Kotahi principles, policies and guidance or, where appropriate, their local government equivalent

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:

  • respectful of te ao Māori, for example, by being consistent with Hononga ki te Iwi – Our Māori Engagement Framework
    Hononga ki te Iwi – Our Māori Engagement Framework
  • consistent with the specific statutory obligations to consult with Māori and facilitate Māori contribution to decision making under the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA); requirements from the Local Government Act 2002 and Resource Management Act 1991 and any subsequent legislation may also apply
  • aligned with Z/19 Taumata Taiao – Environmental and Sustainability Standard
    Z/19 Taumata Taiao – Environmental and Sustainability Standard
  • capable of reflecting other government requirements, for example, the need for large and/or urban projects to consider the financial impacts on business owners and operators.

Resources and further information



Information sheet

Need support?

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