How to prepare a business case

If your project has been added to the pipeline, please contact your Cluster PMO to begin your business case. Readiness will be one of the biggest factors that will determine which business cases will proceed to assessment by the Digital Restart Fund Steering Committee or the Delivery and Performance Committee.   
 
Each business case will be reviewed on its merits. Before you submit a business case, ensure that you check your facts, understand the problem you are trying to solve, align your project with the NSW Design Standards and be clear on project outcomes. Make sure you allow enough time for your business case to be reviewed before submitting your project for approval.
 

There are two streams of funding available within the Digital Restart Fund:

  • Seed funding is for projects valued under $5 million and are usually in discovery phases, building prototypes or releasing beta services for testing by customers. Seed projects require a Lean Business Case. 
  • Scale funding is for projects valued at $5 million or more and are more complex, sometimes multi-year, projects. Scale projects require a Full Business Case.

What is a Lean Business Case? 

While we can’t predict the future, we still need to share our plans. The Lean Business Case is a way for you to clearly explain the value of your project, how you plan to approach your project and its compliance with government policies. There is also space for you to talk about any risks that you’ve thought about and how you plan to spend the funds you are requesting.

This level of funding is allocated to smaller projects going through the customer discovery process, building working prototypes or, where possible, releasing beta services for testing by customers. To learn about pre-discovery, discovery, alpha and beta phases that could be funded through the Digital Restart Fund, check out the delivery manual.

Download Lean Business Case template
 
Lean Business Cases need to:

  1. Distinguish fact from hypotheses  
  2. Commit to many small, incremental achievements   
  3. Provide outcomes over outputs  
  4. Demonstrate how the project might adapt based on evidence

When filling out the Lean Business Case, you must: 

  • Be clear about the project’s case for change from the perspective of the customer. What is the current problem that you need to solve and why. Include specific details like the number of customers, areas, cost etc. There will also be a case for change from the perspective of your organisation, which will need to align with broader government strategy. 
    This is covered in the scope section of the Lean Business Case 
  • You will need to break down the specific benefits of your project to your customers, your organisation, and the government.
    This is covered in the value section of the Lean Business Case 
  • Make sure you chunk the proposed work into manageable parts. Refer to the NSW Design Standards delivery manual to help you understand what you need to do when. Please also consider how any technology that you build could be either used by another agency or is interoperable with existing systems.
    This is covered in the project delivery section of the Lean Business Case 
  • You will need to identify any potential risks to your project succeeding, throughout the course of the project. Think about what you will do to minimise those risks. We can help you down the track to prepare a delivery plan to work out what dependencies or constraints exist within your project.
    This is covered in the risk section of the Lean Business Case 

To learn more about what should be included in a Lean Business Case, check out the Delivery and Performance Architecture (DAPA) checklist.

What is a Full Business Case?

If your project is designated as a scale project in the pipeline process, you will need to complete a detailed Business Case and the Delivery and Performance Architecture (DAPA) checklist.

This level of funding is allocated to supporting larger, more complex projects that are scaling to a full or broader customer base. These projects may be an existing seed project that’s ready to take the next step, or a long-term project that will exceed $5 million in costs over time. 
 
In your business case, you will need to demonstrate how your project meets the criteria of the Digital Restart Fund.  
 
The Delivery and Performance Architecture (DAPA) checklist summarises the ways in which your project meets the Digital Restart Fund criteria and the Minister of Customer Services’ priorities. 

Here is some helpful information on how to fill in your DAPA checklist.

Download Business Case template

Business case compliance  

We support clusters to develop business cases, as well as check that claims made in business cases are accurate. Depending on the value of the project, these checks (assurance) are carried out by independent Expert Reviewers, the DRF Working Group and the DRF Steering Committee (SteerCo).

In accordance with the Budget Process, Treasury Budget teams will conduct a review on full business cases to assess the policy and financials. A Full Business Case must meet all the necessary NSW ICT Assurance Framework (IAF) requirements and meet the Treasury business case and Cost Benefit Analysis guidelines.

Project level savings

All full business cases must identify any project level savings including fiscal savings (cash) and economic (non-cash) benefits alongside a benefits realisation plan. They will also need a Treasury review and Cluster Chief Financial Officer sign-off.

If your project is approved, it will then be determined whether any savings are returned to the Consolidated Fund, the Digital Restart Fund, or remain with the Cluster for reinvestment in other projects.
  
Contingency Costs

Contingency is additional money set aside to cover unexpected costs during the project. 
For projects under $5 million, agencies must manage their budgets within the approved funding envelope and contingency costs will not be approved.

For projects over $5 million, agencies will be provided the total estimated cost of the project, which may also include an allowance for contingency if requested. Contingency costs will only be released following performance reviews and are not to be used for changes to project scope.

Tranche Funding

For scale projects, funding will be released in portions – we call this tranche funding. This reduces project risks by breaking up project deliverables into manageable stages. Full business cases must outline the deliverables and the funding required for each stage. 
Seed projects under $5 million do not need to be paid in tranches and will be released in one transaction.

Before any further tranche payments are made, the project must meet all the following criteria:

  • Successful health checks on previous tranches 
  • Has spent at least 50 % of previous tranche funding 
  • Project sponsors have completed an attestation that the project has delivered the previous tranche commitments and that monthly progress reports have been completed with an acceptable status 
  • There are no changes to the original business case and the project is still on track with its original schedule

Further reviews

Both the Information and Privacy Commission and Cyber NSW will review business cases for every project (both seed and scale). 
 

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