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Strategic Assessment

When a Strategic Assessment is needed

A Strategic Assessment justifies the need to invest in change.  This work provides the basis of the Strategic Case for all later business case stages. 

A Strategic Assessment is required for portfolios and programmes, and for projects assessed as High Risk through the Risk Profile Assessment process.  This may not be required for all projects, for example policy changes that are Cabinet-mandated and require a Regulatory Impact Assessment. Agencies may have internal equivalent justification and prioritisation processes for projects that do not require a Strategic Assessment.

Purpose of the Strategic Assessment

The Strategic Assessment provides stakeholders with confidence that a proposed investment aligns with the organisational strategic priorities, responds to a true business need and links to required outcomes and benefits.  Stakeholders can consider the rationale for a proposed investment at an early stage, and determine if the proposal warrants further business case development; it may also weed out poorly-conceived ideas that should not proceed.

As much as possible, reuse materials developed elsewhere the organisation's Statement of Intent or Annual Report, or that have been prepared as part of the project or programme initiation stage, or as part of the organisation's portfolio management process to show the project's fit to government or organisation strategies and priorities.

We strongly recommend the use of facilitated workshops, such as Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) workshops, to ensure that key stakeholders are involved and all relevant aspects are considered.

State sector organisations should consider whether Ministerial or Cabinet engagement is required at the Strategic Assessment stage.  For proposed initiatives where there is a high level of national change or a very high level of expected investment it may be appropriate to give Ministers or Cabinet visibility of the assessment, to raise awareness of what is being planned.  Where there are already documents drafted they should be attached to Cabinet papers for background and continuity.

Related requirements

Cabinet Office Circular CO(19) 6: Investment management and asset performance in the state services: In-scope agencies

Risk Profile Assessment:  For any significant initiative on an agency's long-term plan, completion of a Risk Profile Assessment (RPA) is required before substantive work starts on any business case process.  It's useful to do this as part of the Strategic Assessment process.  The RPA also provides input to the Business Case Scoping document.

  • Organisations not in-scope for CO (19) 6 may find completing an RPA useful to gather consistent information about proposed projects, and to provide a consistent risk assessment for prioritisation, and for allocation of resources for risk mitigation.

Business Case Scoping document: As part of the Strategic Assessment, and before starting work on a business case, we recommend that agencies use the Treasury Business Case Scoping document document to agree the Business Case approach with their Monitoring Agency or Treasury Vote Analyst.  This discussion agrees:

  • business case pathway
  • the decision pathway
  • methods (and tools) and effort required for the business case
  • assurance pathway, including project eligibility for Gateway reviews, requirements for Assurance Plans, and Independent Quality Assurance (IQA).


Supporting collateral Strategic Assessment
Guidance and Template: to understand the development process and document the process results Strategic assessment - Guidance and Template (August 2019)
A3 presentation N/A
Reviewer Assessment tool Strategic assessment - Reviewer assessment tool (August 2019)


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 0: Strategic Assessment) as the Strategic Assessment 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

The Point of Entry/Scoping document and discussions with the agency's monitoring agency and/or Treasury Vote Analyst will determine what type of business case is required next:


Useful links
Last updated: 
Tuesday, 16 November 2021