Starting a Web project – “Business Case”

The cause of the failure of several web development projects is not always due to poor project management. Many projects are not successful due to the fact that they are simply not good projects in the context of the organization, or they are not selected for the right reasons, or the target audience and needs of stakeholders are poorly understood .

No matter the size or purpose, each Web project needs a business analysis of its value, its risks and disadvantages, and a plan to achieve it.

A good “business case” is a structured proposal that serves to justify in terms of benefits, costs and risks associated with your internet technology project.

Its purpose is to describe the business logic for the project and define the parameters and factors involved in the project management itself. It provides management a tool to approve or disapprove the project start. It provides the project manager a tool to guide the design, management and evaluation.

A good “business case” is a communication tool, written in a language comprehensible to the audience and with sufficient detail for making decisions. The document aims to be as simple and brief as possible, and with enough verifiable data.

It is a necessary prerequisite for any successful project initiation and there are many methods for managing projects that require them explicitly. (PMI, PRINCE, agile and other variants).

The difference between traditional and agile is the level of detail that needs to go into the preparation of the “Business Case”. In traditional approaches, the detailed work is usually completed before developing the solution for the project, while according to agile approaches, solution development work can begin immediately and more accurate estimates and project plan are iterative delivered after the development of a prototype / proof of concept phase.

According to the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) the life cycle of a project can be summarized as follows:

  • start of the project
  • organization and preparation
  • performance of the work of the project
  • project closure

The initiation process of the project is very important to allow good projects, prioritize, and manage your project communications.

For management to approve the expenditure of resources on a project, they must know three things:

  • what are they going to get
  • to how much money
  • and when it will be delivered

According to the PMBOK

The initiation process group includes the processes that define a new project or a new phase of an existing project, with permission to start the project or phase. It is in the initiation process that the initial content is defined and the initial financial resources are committed. The internal and external stakeholders who will interact and influence the overall result are identified. The project manager will be selected if it is not already. …

The start of the project includes two processes. The development of the project charter and the identification of stakeholders.

Identify stakeholders

It is the process of identifying all persons or organizations involved in the project, and document information relevant to their interests, their involvement and their impact on the success of the project.

Develop the project charter

The project charter documents the business needs, current understanding of the customer’s needs, and the new product, service, or result that it is intended to satisfy, such as:

  • Project purpose or justification,
  • Measurable project objectives and related success criteria,
  • High-level requirements,
  • High-level project description,
  • High-level risks,
  • Summary milestone schedule,
  • Summary budget,
  • Project approval requirements (what constitutes project success, who decides the project is successful, and who signs off on the project),
  • Assigned project manager, responsibility, and authority level, and
  • Name and authority of the sponsor or other person(s) authorizing the project charter.

In my view, whether you use the the Charter of the Project from the PMBOK or other documents that you use to initiate projects, you must ensure that you have enough information to make informed business decisions .

It is essential to start projects on a solid base and strong assumptions. You can hire a consultant to assist you in this stage of your projects, however  your involvement at this stage of the project and the most important. This is not a step you can outsource to someone without active involvement of senior management. Your vision of the change that this project has to bring to your organization has to be defined in the beginning.