The outcome of this part of the business case should be a clear and defined preferred option, supported by risk and benefits analysis and meeting the project’s objectives. This is the technical core of the business case, and is where the options analysis is carried out and the preferred option identified.
The work on benefits and risks is carried out here – identification, analysis and, later, management plans. Although technical, this part of the case can also require the widest input from the organisation as options are considered, worked up and evaluated and recommendations made regarding the optimum value for money way forward.
In developing the options, a do-nothing or do-minimum option must be retained. Do-nothing may not, for various reasons, be feasible; in that event, a do-minimum option will act as a baseline. In addition, options may focus also on when to implement and what to do in the meantime (for example, regarding interim solutions).
Larger and more complex investments that pass through the Business Case lifecycle typically require a comprehensive options appraisal involving long listing, short listing and a full analysis of shortlisted options. However, for a medium sized Business Case with an investment of between £100K and £500K the long listing may not be required.
In some cases it could be that there is clearly only one realistic way of meeting the investment objectives, in which case this can be explained, giving the reasons and demonstrating the extent to which the investment objectives and critical success factors are met.
In other situations a small range of potential options exist, in which case these should first be set out and then explored via a value for money appraisal as per a normal Business Case whereby costs, benefits and risks of each option are compared. However, the appraisal should be less complex than with a larger and more contentious investment, and so should take less effort to complete – potentially involving a strategic level appraisal around Investment Objectives and Critical Success factors plus in some cases a qualitative evaluation.
The remainder of this section presents headings and guidance based on the assumption that a relatively simple VFM analysis of a small number of options is required. If instead just a single option is the only viable way forward, then these headings can be ignored and replaced with a simple textual explanation of why the option is the only viable way forward and what the costs, benefits and risks associated with it are.
An overall point to note is that this stage inevitably requires the use of suitable spreadsheet models, and can be a very complex and time-consuming process. It can be particularly wasteful if the wrong options have been identified and if this only comes to light once a great deal of analysis of the options has been undertaken. For this reason it is vital that all key stakeholders are comfortable with the shortlist identified before this appraisal is commenced.
Set out key assumptions made – such as timescales over which the costs, benefits and risks have been modelled and why these timescales have been used.
Explain how costs were derived – such as market surveys, discussion with project managers.
Either describe overall costs per option over the duration of the investment or paste in the relevant table from the Excel model.
This section should be completed with the aid of the Benefits Calculator Tool for helping to quantify cashable and non cashable benefits. See the mobile investment toolkit for more information and the link to the tool.
An example list of target benefits can be found in the table in section 2.3. The benefits prepopulated in this table are intended as examples, which can either be taken as they are or modified/added to as required. The examples provided have been taken from actual NHS mobile implementation projects that have realised these benefits.
A relatively simple impact/probability scoring system for risks is acceptable for a medium sized business case (<£500k)
Outcome of options appraisal
In this section, the outcome of the above options appraisal should be presented, with conclusions and the preferred option clearly stated.
Include conclusions around the:
- case for change (for example, why ‘do nothing’ is not a viable option)
- strategic fit of preferred option
- value for money of preferred option
- benefits of preferred option
The preferred option is then carried forward into Section 4 – Funding and affordability – for more detailed financial analysis.