Chartered Project Professional Elective Competence 13

John Bolton

ChPP (Chartered Project Professional) candidates must be able to demonstrate experience that satisfies the specific Professional Practice assessment criteria. They will also at interview need to demonstrate their advanced Technical Knowledge and understanding against the stated Technical Knowledge assessment criteria.

Aspiring Chartered Project Professionals who do not already hold a recognised assessment for professional practice must be able to show that their experience satisfies the specific Professional Practice Assessment Criteria with a written submission. As part of this they will also need to show competence in twelve competence areas. Ten of these are mandatory and two are selected from a selection of 14 Elective Competencies. The one we are looking at here is ChPP Competence 13: Business Cases

Introduction to the project Business Case

The ability to prepare, gain approval of, refine and update business cases that justify the initiation and/or continuation of change initiatives in terms of benefits, costs and risks. The business case provides the justification for undertaking and continuing with a change initiative. It needs to be reconsidered regularly at review points during the change initiative in case the original justifications are affected by later developments.

We need to put to bed this idea of a ‘change initiative’. Some time ago (when BoK 6 was published) it was considered apposite to consider projects, programmes and portfolio’s under the generic term ‘change initiative’. The net result was that everyone got massively confused and it has remained so, people confusing the term with change control and change management. Please just consider this term in the manner intended and for the purpose of this blog I will just use the term project to mean projects, programmes and portfolio’s whatever you are managing and using for your application.

What needs to be demonstrated for ChPP Competence 13?

The APM have helpfully split the important subject of Business Cases (ChPP elective competence 13) into a set of key criteria that must be demonstrated. And these are as follows, not forgetting that you only need to demonstrate four of them: –

PP1.1 determine the relevant factors which could influence the development of a convincing business case

This is a rather odd sort of assessment criteria. It rather implies that you will need to talk at some length about the things that are specific to your project. In actual fact whilst this may be true, they will ordinarily fit into one of the main topic areas associated with a business case – namely Costs, Benefits and Risks. If you write your submission with reference to these you won’t go far wrong, but remember to relate them to your real world project. A business case is the evaluation of the benefits you are anticipating and the costs of delivering it. There are risks that the costs go up and conversely that the benefits may not end up being those expected.

PP1.2 support a persuasive argument through effective analysis of relevant factors

So, given the fairly limited set of (high level) factors to consider, you are going to have to show how they are contributing to the overall decision to proceed with the project. There is a significant element of this criteria – that of effective analysis. Here YOU are going to have to describe how YOU did that with reference to the costs, benefits and risks of your chosen project. YOU might be considering things like investment appraisal, return on investment, value engineering, benefit mapping, etc. You will need to show how you deployed these techniques to support a decent argument.

PP1.3 establish a benefits framework for a business case

Well, this is all about benefit mapping and benefit profiles and a benefit management strategy. First, benefits are recorded on a benefit profile with their value and timing, they are then scheduled in time and offset against the costs of the project’s timescales. The benefit management strategy contains the rules that you will be following when compiling these other two elements. This is described a bit more in the benefits management blog.

PP1.4 document a business case in a relevant format

Your organisation is going to probably have a prescribed format. If not you can download loads of examples from the internet ( I just googled it and got 1,300 million hits, good luck picking one of those). There will be a fair degree of commonality, and when the criteria talk about format, I don’t believe it’s the actual format (i.e. what font you are using) but it is more about the contents of it. You can see how this therefore will overlap quite heavily with PP1.3 above. If you find this happening, it is quite possible you can hit more than one criterion with one well-crafted paragraph.

PP2.1 gain initial and ongoing formal acceptance of a business case

Initial approval is going to be done at the end of the Concept stage (in the APM life-cycle it will anyway) and it classically approved by the sponsoring organisation-the one that is investing the money to hopefully receive the benefits. Therefore, there will probably be a gate review where the key stakeholders will meet and there will be a sign off. Subsequently, the business case may change as the project progresses and the continual referencing between it and the project management plan will invoke the need to maybe change it and re-approve it in a similar manner. So how did YOU gain approval and how did YOU gain ongoing approval.

PP2.2 monitor and refine a business case as circumstances and factors change

Monitoring the business case happens in two ways. Firstly because something in the business has changed and causes a re-appraisal of the cost:benefit ratio and whether the project is worth pursuing. Similarly the project as it evolves will be consuming money (the cost referred to in the business case) and as it does so., it may transpire that the money is no longer sufficient to deliver the project thus potentially compromising the business. Case How did YOU make sure this was going on and how did YOU ensure it was refined accordingly.

PP2.3 implement a change control process and configuration management system when updating a business case.

As a general rule any project document will need to be managed through its evolution. A devoted project manager will need to make sure that a) any changes are controlled and b) that once approved only the latest versions are in circulation. The essence of this criterion. You need to show how YOU controlled these aspects in the normal manner of a project, through your processes in the PMP.  

What does a good submission look like?

Project1: I was the project manager for the development of the project business case and it brought me into contact with the senior members of the client and supplier organisations to develop a coherent and compelling case comparing the factors of costs risks and benefits. I drew on the experience of the business analysts, undertook market research and used a risk and value analyst to obtain a reasoned picture. I went through many iterations with the client and after many reviews, I refined the investment appraisal model and ultimately it was approved. Once the project was up and running, I ensured that the business case was aligned with the project management plan and the pair were reviewed in harmony at the regular progress meetings. I ensured that the benefit model supporting the business case was updated as and when necessitated as more relevant information appeared (for example when the legislation changed). I kept careful notes on the changes and where they emanated from and went back to the originators to ensure that due rigor was applied to any re-evaluation with them to provide surety that the project was still viable. My document controller was tasked with ensuring that the later versions were updated and it was these that were considered at my quarterly business reviews.

212 words – WARNING – I am not suggesting that this would be successful, I am not the assessor who will be assessing it, but I wouldn’t mind betting it has a strong chance of being suitable.

Please remember – for ChPP Competence 13 – What YOU did, lots of I, me, and my.

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