Template for Success
The Texas Department of Public Safety has a formal business-case
template that prompts project leaders to ask the tough questions,
says Amanda Arriaga, chief administrative officer and enterprise
project management office leader at the department, Austin,
Texas, USA. Here’s how the template helps project teams challenge their assumptions—and move the best projects forward.
n What needs to be done and
what is the recommended approach to accomplish it? This
helps establish project scope.
n Will this require a new contract or a change to an existing
n Will this project impact,
benefit or change how another
division conducts its business?
n Individuals and organizations
that will need to provide input
or need to be informed about
n Project team staffing needs
by role or tasks per division.
For each role, how many high-level tasks will that individual
need to complete?
n Project dependencies or
related efforts. For example,
determine which efforts must
be completed before the project can start or complete.
n The projected fiscal impact
to the department, program or
n A description of the project
milestones and target completion dates.
n A brief summary of considered alternatives—one of
which should be maintaining
the status quo. The reasons for
not selecting the alternatives
should also be included.
n Risks, assumptions or constraints.
n Anticipated training needs.
In the description section,
identify training expectations,
including who will be responsible for providing the training.
n How performance will be
measured after completion and how success will be
n The technical business functions or procedures that would
be modified or automated by
of our assumptions, data about current conditions,
constraints, risks and any evaluation criteria we
used to come up with this plan,” Mr. Watson says.
The second section includes alternatives, including
other potential solutions—and the potential impact
of doing nothing at all.
The Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin,
Texas, USA has a similar business-case template for
all major projects overseen by the enterprise project
management office (EPMO). The
template requires project owners
to outline how the project will
meet specific state needs, says
Jessica Ballew, deputy assistant
director of policy and planning. It
asks a series of questions to stake-
holders, including subject mat-
ter experts and service providers,
such as, “What will the project
involve? Who are the key stake-
holders? What resources will the
“Answering the questions is an
iterative process, as each subject
matter expert provides their per-
spective,” Ms. Ballew says.
The EPMO’s business-case
template also asks teams to discuss why the proposed project plans are better than possible alternatives. By examining the project outcomes from
multiple perspectives, the organization can stave
off the potential for buyer’s remorse. For example,
if the department needs a new IT solution, the
business case will include the development and
maintenance costs, schedule, benefits and risks of
building it in-house, as well as comparison data for
going with a private vendor. “By including this data,
questions get answered before they are asked,” Ms.
is an iterative
—Jessica Ballew, Texas
Department of Public Safety,
Austin, Texas, USA