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Better Business Cases™ for large-scale non-high-risk projects

For all capital expenditure, lease and asset disposal proposals that require Cabinet approval, the Better Business Cases two-stage approval process must be followed unless otherwise agreed with Cabinet or the Treasury.

Supporting ministerial decision-making rights

Cabinet has investment decision rights on all investment proposals where the investment requires new Crown funding or support, is High Risk or has significant policy issues. Cabinet must also be given the opportunity to consider investment proposals that have significant fiscal and policy implications or could affect the government's reputation in the marketplace. 

  • Cabinet documents setting out expectations and requirements are listed in Related external links below.

Two-stage Cabinet approval is required

Large-scale projects (generally over $25m WoLC - this may vary based on an agency’s ICR) must follow the two-stage Cabinet approvals process.  The purposes of this two-stage process are to:

  • give ministers the opportunity to consider a long list of options before they’re discarded

  • confirm ministerial support before approaching the market, to maintain market confidence in government procurement.

Stage 1: Indicative Business Case. Decision-makers consider and approve:

  • the preferred way forward (a short-list of options, based on analysis of a long-list)

  • the project to proceed with more detailed assessment of the short-list options

  • the project to engage with market suppliers through a Request for Information (RFI).

Stage 2: Detailed Business Case. Decision-makers consider and approve:

  • the preferred option

  • the project to proceed to formal market engagement through a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Tender (RFT) process

  • the project to finalise the arrangements for the successful implementation of the preferred option, through an Implementation Business Case.

The diagram below includes the standard pathway for large-scale projects:

The standard pathway for large-scale project

Are you facing time pressure to submit an investment proposal?

On those (rare!) occasions when decisions need to be made rapidly for reasons outside agency control – for example in order to keep attractive options open, or because Cabinet is directing officials to expedite decisions, then the Treasury will work with you to help make it happen. Check the guidance below and contact your Treasury vote analyst immediately.

Expediting Investment decisions

Related requirements

Before starting work on a Business Case, a large-scale project assessed as not high-risk (through the Risk Profile Assessment moderation process) should complete:

  1. A Business Case Scoping document, to agree the Business Case approach, decision pathway, effort, and assurance requirements with their Treasury Vote Analyst, Monitoring Agency (if any) and relevant functional leads.

  2. A Strategic Assessment; this justifies the need to invest in change and obtains (internal agency) approval to proceed to business case development. A Strategic Assessment is recommended but not mandatory for non-high-risk projects; agencies may find one useful to analyse strategic drivers and fit, which justify the need to invest in change.

Scope of the business case requirements

Use the table below when considering how to tailor the Better Business Case templates for your project.

Left is a more full analysis and right is a more light analysis

  High Risk any scale Non-high risk large scale Non-high-risk Small scale
Standard BBC pathway Strategic Assessment
Indicative Business Case
Detailed Business Case
Implementation Business Case
Indicative Business Case
Detailed Business Case
Implementation Business Case
Single-stage Business Case
Implementation Business Case (if procurement)
Strategic fit Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) with certified practitioner facilitator ILM with trained facilitator ILM not mandated
Monetary benefits and costs National economy
All significant resource flows, including non-monetary costs and benefits
Organisation and selected sectors
All significant resource flows that can be expressed in monetary terms
Non-monetary benefits and costs Multi-criteria decision analysis using expert facilitation and proprietary tools Multi-criteria decision analysis Ranking of non-monetary benefits and costs
Uncertainty Quantitative risk analysis (QRA) Quantify risks and probabilities[1] Single point adjustments of costs and benefits
Assurance Fully costed assurance plan
Gateway reviews
Fully costed assurance plan
Gateway reviews available on request
Assurance plan
Gateway reviews available on request

Applicable Better Business Cases Guidance

Indicative Business Case (IBC)
Detailed Business Case (DBC)
Implementation Business Case (ImBC)

< to BBC Pathways navigation diagram>

  1. [1] Consider risk modelling techniques that are less resource intensive than full quantitative risk analysis. For example, by using multi-point probability or decision-tree analysis to estimate the impacts of different outcomes on mid-point risk estimates.
Last updated: 
Tuesday, 30 March 2021