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The Secret to Scaling Complex Methods for Smaller Organisations and Projects

As you will have noticed from my other posts, I am a vocal advocate for bringing best practice to local government in New Zealand.

Resource constraints and a series of high-stakes, low-budget projects and initiatives are commonly cited as reasons why best-practice tools such as Better Business Cases and ILM workshops are out of reach. However, these reasons also happen to be exactly why organisations like Councils need a strong methodology for understanding problems and targeting investment. In short, we can’t afford not to.

One of the most common things I am asked is how to scale these processes for smaller projects or organisations. Councils, in particular those outside the main centres, want to find a way to better direct investment, but are overwhelmed by how complex the business case process looks.

My answer is the same every time: put the document template down and focus on the conversation. The real value and benefit from ILM and BBC is the structured conversation, that brings the right people into the room and dedicates time to doing the thinking that’s required to make good decisions.

“… put the document template down and focus on the conversation.”

Put your energy into having the workshops, asking the questions and getting all of the issues and potential options out onto the table. Then, do the analysis that makes sense and present this in a way that works for you.

I am currently working with a client on a series of one-page business cases to feed into a portfolio level understanding of a $7 billion activity portfolio. You read that correctly – one page.

Almost all of the energy for this project has been directed into the conversations – getting activity managers into the room, working through a strategic ILM and BBC process and having robust debates about issues, options, risks and benefits. The business cases will be an important reference for staff and decision-makers to understand the trade-offs and directions over the next ten years, but the true value is reflected in the quality of the discussion.

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