Richard Pharro (CEO APMG) on ‘Agile Business Cases’. Richard is boss of one of the largest project management certification bodies in the world. The new ‘Better Business Cases’ qualification aims to reduce the risk of project failure.
It’s very important and useful for an implementation team to understand the most frequent courses of loss. Where things go wrong, why do they go wrong?
If we understand that then surely as an implementation team, we can do some good work to guard against those probabilities.
Number one is disagreement over contract scope. It’s disagreement over what we agreed. We’ve talked earlier about the importance of understanding and prioritizing requirements, of ensuring open dialogue between the parties about requirements and capabilities – a degree of openness and honesty.
As an implementation team, we can make things significantly worse if we don’t have proper diligence and rigor in the way that we manage contract changes. Weaknesses in contract change management mean that even if we agreed at the outset about what we were trying to achieve we’re no longer in agreement by the time delivery occurs.
There’s also the potential for performance failures due to over-commitment. It’s not unusual for selling organizations to overstate some of their capabilities or to commit resources without adequate internal discussion.
The list continues with disagreement over things like price and charge: is this a chargeable change or a non-chargeable change? Is a price change or escalation something that’s permitted or not permitted?
Pricing remains inevitably a very sensitive issue because it’s an economic deal.
An inappropriate contract structure or an agreement is another common cause of failure. If the negotiating teams didn’t understand the structure of the agreement and relationship that’s needed, this can undermine the eventual performance.
Finally, there are issues with subcontractors: failure to get good back-to-back agreements, failure to manage subcontractors through techniques that reflect the prime contract – these will often cause delays, pricing issues or other performance problems.
The five key components of this methodology are; The Strategic Case: It demonstrates that the spending proposal provides business synergy and strategic fit and is predicated upon as a robust and evidence based case for change. The Economic Case: It demonstrates that the spending proposal optimises public value. The Commercial Case: It demonstrates that the ‘preferred option’ will result in a viable procurement and well-structured deal. The Financial Case: It demonstrates that the ‘preferred option’ will result in a fundable and affordable deal. The Management Case: It demonstrates that the ‘preferred option’ is capable of being delivered successfully, in accordance with recognised best practise.
Courses and Qualifications
• Foundation Course and Exam
– Classroom course 2 days followed by closed book exam
– Closed book, multiple choice, 50 questions
– 50% pass mark 40 minutes duration
• Practitioner Course and Exam
– Classroom course 3 days followed by an exam on day 3
– Open book exam
– 4 questions per paper, with 20 marks available per question
– 50% pass mark 2 ½ hours duration
• Reviewer Course
– Under development/discussion
•Reduction in unnecessary spending and consultancy costs.
•A process and guidance designed to optimize value from change initiatives.
•A clear, proportionate approval process and improved, more informed decision making.
•Complements existing best practice
•Short courses minimize disruption to business as usual.
•Improved understanding of the Better Business Cases process, relevant not only to
those producing business cases and spending proposals, but also those reviewing.
•Understanding of an established and proven methodology which can be applied at both
strategic (macro) and tactical (micro) levels.
•Recognized certification for a core business competency for so many in mid and
senior management roles.