One technique is investment logic mapping (ILM), which is included in the New Zealand Treasury’s guidelines for public sector business cases. ILM ensures ‘… that robust discussion and thinking is done up-front, resulting in a sound problem definition, before solutions are identified and before any investment decision is made.’ (NZ Treasury)
ILMs typically involve two facilitated workshops:
An investment logic map is developed through this informed discussion; its purpose is to communicate the investment story on a single page, using plain language.
Using ILM ensures the rationale for a proposed investment makes sense and is based on sound evidence.
While following the ILM process is not compulsory, it is highly recommended, particularly for complex, high-risk or multi-party proposals.
Even if you’re not using a formal ILM process, the format and technique provides an effective way of defining problems and benefits, and creating buy-in and consensus.
The relationship management capability is particularly important here. ILM is largely about getting alignment on the likely problems and benefits and testing the rationale for potential investment with key stakeholders.
BCA principles and behaviours
ILM should incorporate the BCA principles and behaviours: investing for benefits, fit-for-purpose effort, clarity of intent, gathering information through informed discussion, and building the case for investment progressively.
Workshops or discussions should be fit for purpose. That is, they should match the level of effort anticipated to explore the potential investment.
These are the first eight questions of the 16 business case assessment questions that a completed business case needs to answer.
It is important to get the right people in the room; only schedule workshops when you know those people are available. Problem owners, investors and stakeholders all need to participate fully in the workshop discussions.
Review the participants who have been identified in the point of entry discussions.
Problem owner can be a joint responsibility. They:
Investors need to:
Each co-investor needs to understand why the problems need addressing and what outcomes they are ‘buying’. Recognising each other’s decision pathways and understanding the interdependencies are critical.
Investors’ representatives should have sufficient authority/delegation to confirm the necessary investment for the next phase, or signal the proposal’s viability through their interest in proceeding beyond the strategic case.
Stakeholders selected will have the most information on the topic and be significantly impacted by or able to influence the problem. They:
Where stakeholders are involved because of their knowledge of a subject area, they are expected to support informed discussions with evidence-based views of the problem.
Think about the context of the problem or opportunity when selecting stakeholder participants. A strategic issue could require a different set of participants than a more activity-related/operational problem.
Stakeholders can influence decisions throughout the process but are not the decision makers.
Accredited ILM facilitators are recommended for complex multi-party issues.
Problem owners should ensure that facilitators have read this Transport Agency guidance when they are engaged and before the workshops. They should also be fully briefed about the topic, especially if there is likely to be disagreement among participants.
Project managers, business analysts or technical advisors may be invited to workshops to listen to the group discussion. They generally remain silent, but may provide technical clarification of evidence, as necessary.
How much preparation participants do is up to them, but they should come to an ILM ready to take part in discussions and offer their opinion and expertise. While it is not expected that new work is done in the lead up to the workshops, participants are expected to have given some thought to the potential problem or opportunity and bring any relevant existing work or data they have. That may involve canvassing others in their team or organisation before they come to the workshop.
Five to eight (with a maximum of 12) participants are ideal for the problem definition (investment logic mapping) workshop.
Problem owners set the scene and introduce what has led to the workshop and what they think the problem(s) might be. (They also need to be prepared to accept that the process may identify a different problem.) The identified problem (or opportunity) is explored through answering the questions above (see ‘What questions need to be answered’), from which problem statements (generally no more than four to five) are developed and presented in an investment logic map.
Each problem statement:
For more information about defining problems and benefits, and developing problem statements:
The benefits workshop usually happens one week after the problem definition workshop. Four to five participants (plus the facilitator and observers) is ideal. There should be some continuity from the previous workshops with problem owners and investors, but a change in other participants is usual.
Participants review the previously developed problem/ILM map to ensure that:
They then explore the benefits of addressing the problems by determining:
KPIs are internal to your organisation, but it may be helpful to use the relevant Transport Agency performance measures to identify and develop your KPIs. These may be developed after the workshop.
It is important that the potential investment benefits of addressing the problem are able to be measured and assessed to demonstrate the best possible programme development and activity/option selection, which in turn provide value to the organisation or its customers.
It is also important to be able to evaluate the success of addressing the problems or opportunities once an investment has been implemented.
The problems and benefits are then mapped on a benefits map.
After the workshops have been held, the facilitator will typically:
When they have received participant feedback, the facilitator will, as relevant:
The maps form a key input into developing a strategic case. If the result of the workshops is a decision to proceed to a strategic case, it should progress promptly.
The main outputs from problems and benefits definition workshops are simple, single-page flowcharts that tell the story of a possible investment and expose its underpinning logic. They are the start of the conversation about whether it is necessary to invest time and money into looking into the problems or opportunities for potential investment.
A map format is not always necessary, but the problems, opportunities and benefits must be clearly articulated however they are presented.
These information sheets are designed to accompany learning modules about the strategic case.
Other relevant information sheets: