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Project Indicative Business Case (IBC)

When an Indicative Business Case is needed

In contrast to a programme, a project is a set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period to achieve a set of objectives and deliver specific outputs, eg a new IT system or a building.

For significant projects that require a two-stage business case process, there are two key stages in the evolution of a project business case:

  • Indicative Business Case (IBC)
  • Detailed Business Case (DBC)

For smaller and/or lower risk projects, a Project Single Stage Business Case, which combines Indicative and Detailed Business case, may be used, by agreement with your Treasury Vote Analyst or Monitoring Agency. 

The Indicative Business Case typically follows a Project Strategic Assessment, which justifies the need to change. 

Purpose of the Indicative Business Case

The Indicative Business Case provides decision makers with an early indication of the preferred way forward for high value and/or high risk investment proposals.  The Indicative Business Case:

  • outlines how the proposed investment fits within the organisation(s) strategic intentions
  • confirms the need for investment and the case for change
  • recommends an indicative or preferred way forward for further development of the investment proposal, by considering the feasibility of full range options supported by a limited number of short-listed options for further analysis
  • where appropriate, carries out some early market engagement, for example in the form of market soundings or an initial Request for Information/Registration of Interest. Be careful not to require extensive work, as the project may not proceed.
  • considers the benefits that can be achieved by the project, and its risks and constraints
  • seeks the approval of decision-makers to proceed to developing a Detailed Business Case, based on the preferred way forward, and to formally start engagement with the market.

The information presented is indicative only.  It provides the decision-makers with just enough information to consider change and confirm the options being considered, and an early opportunity to make a decision before too much work is done. 


Supporting collateral Indicative Business Case
Guidance and template: to understand the development and process document the process results Indicative Business Case - Template & Guidance - September 2020 (DOC 1.45 MB)
A3 presentation bbc-indbus-pr-v2 (PPT 391 KB)
Reviewer Assessment tool

Indicative Business Case (PBC) Reviewer Assessment Tool - August 2019 (DOC 296.5 KB)


All significant projects, of all types, are required to have and follow Assurance Plans appropriate to their scale and risk.

ICT-enabled state sector projects and programmes assessed as High Risk are required to prepare costed assurance plans.  Contact [email protected]

Programmes and projects assessed as High Risk must include Gateway Reviews in their Assurance plans. They are normally required to have a review (Gate 1: Business Justification & Options) as the Indicative Business Case nears completion.  There is a 6-8 week lead time for contracts and logistics, so if you have not yet engaged with the Gateway Unit, get in touch early: [email protected]

Next steps

Only when the Indicative Business Case has been approved should formal market engagement in the form of a formal Request for Information (RFI) be initiated to gather information for the next stage.  The five cases are then further developed out in the development of a Detailed Business Case (DBC)

Useful links

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Last updated: 
Tuesday, 16 November 2021