Last edited 05 Oct 2016

Preliminary business case for construction project

The preliminary business case sets out a justification for the investment that would be required by a potential development. It is used to decide whether the potential project merits being investigated in more detail.

A preliminary business case should be prepared very early in the project, before any decision has been made to proceed. It allows the client to explore high level options for meeting the requirements set out in the statement of need. This may include an assessment of comparable projects.

Experienced clients may have in-house expertise allowing them to prepare a preliminary business case. However, some clients will not have the full range of skills required and may wish to appoint independent client advisers to assist them.

A preliminary business case may include:

  • Funding options.
  • Legal agreements.
  • Management structure.
  • Objectives and mission statement.
  • An assessment of constraints.
  • Alternative solutions, such as refurbishment, or changing operational practices.
  • A summary of options considered and discarded.
  • Assessment of the main hurdles to surmount, show-stoppers, uncertainties and risks.
  • Assessment of previous similar projects and lessons learned.
  • Assumed procurement route.
  • Assumed programme and phasing.
  • A schedule of consultants that will be required.
  • The market and competition.
  • The budget, inclusions and exclusions and contingency allowance.
  • A description of the business needs, benefits and keys to success and value.
  • Public relations and external communications strategy.
  • An assessment of any political consequences of the project.
  • An assessment of the likely costs for the next stage.
  • A proposal for the way forward.
  • Relevant research, including assessment of similar facilities.

The preliminary business case is likely to be in a report format, however, where possible, information and requirements should be scheduled in a database or spreadsheet format that will be easy to expand and will be easy to use to test whether proposals satisfy requirements later in the project.

When, or if consultants are appointed, the preliminary business case should be updated to include their feedback and recommendations.

Once feasibility studies and options appraisals have been carried out by the consultant team, the preliminary business case should be developed into a full business case for the preferred option. The full business case is the document that will be used to obtain authority for the preferred option to progress to concept design.

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