Why engagement matters to the Business Case Approach

Effective engagement is at the heart of the Business Case Approach (BCA). The support of stakeholders is critical to making successful investments, whether the stakeholders are internal or external. In the context of a business case, a stakeholder can be any individual, group of individuals, organisation, or political entity with a stake in the outcome of the investment being considered.

A key expectation is that business case developers will undertake a journey with stakeholders, to the extent appropriate, as a business case progresses from start to finish.

For many business cases, this will mean creating genuine opportunities for stakeholders to influence the shaping of an investment from the early stages, not simply be invited to comment on a limited range of options towards the end. This is especially important for stakeholders who:

  • will be significantly impacted by an investment
  • will be critical to successful implementation
  • hold specialist knowledge that is relevant to the investment
  • are key decision-makers.

Public service organisations have a commitment to partner with Māori to taking appropriate account of the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as well as our legislative requirements. Understanding the impact a business case may have on issues of significance to Māori is crucial at the outset. Understanding Māori aspirations and the impact and opportunities for Māori will help set direction for later conversations at either the partnership or operational engagement levels.  


Our vision for BCA engagement is that:

'Throughout the BCA, engagement is genuine, meaningful and targeted in each step of development to support great transport outcomes for all New Zealanders.'

Business Case Approach engagement principles

The BCA is a principles-based approach, because it needs to support development of fit-for-purpose business cases for a diverse range of investments. Business cases are guided by five key principles that apply to all business case work.

Business Case Approach principles

In keeping with this principles-based approach, we have developed the following engagement principles to guide the development of business cases from inception to implementation. They support and are consistent with the key principles of the BCA, but they are not intended to replace them.

Our principles support BCA engagement practice:

  1. Engagement supports a ‘partnering for outcomes’ approach that is consistent with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  2. Engagement is targeted and fit-for-purpose.
  3. Engagement is considered at all stages of business case development, starting at the point of entry.
  4. Engagement is transparent.
  5. Engagement is consistent with statutory requirements and NZTA principles, policies and guidance or, where appropriate, their local government equivalent.

These principles are intended to build on, not replace, the principles for consultation included in legislation, including the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA) and the Local Government Act 2002. They are designed to support the process of scoping and developing a business case under the BCA.

Land Transport Management Act 2003(external link)
Local Government Act 2002(external link)

For more detail on how to use engagement in the BCA, read our guidance on how to apply the engagement principles in practice.   

Applying the Business Case Approach engagement principles to business case development

Links to International Association for Public Participation approach

Our engagement vision and principles have been designed to be consistent with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) approach to public engagement.

International Association for Public Participation Australasia(external link)

IAP2 guidelines identify a spectrum of public participation goals, ranging from inform at one end to empower at the other. 

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Applying the engagement principles to business cases

The following should be kept in mind when planning how and when to engage during development of a business case:

  • Seek advice and include any specific needs for engaging with Māori. You may find the NZTA Hononga ki te Iwi – Our Māori Engagement Framework useful when deciding the best approach, including whether there are opportunities to partner with Māori.
    Hononga ki te Iwi – Our Māori Engagement Framework
  • Seek advice and plan for engagement right from the start of a business case, beginning in the point of entry (PoE). For example, make an early decision about how detailed your engagement planning needs to be.
  • Involving or collaborating with one or more stakeholder(s) in the early phases of business case development may help avoid unplanned engagement costs later on – for example when it comes to formal consultation.
  • When scoping each phase of development, consider the specific engagement needs and opportunities for that phase.
  • Use the IAP2 spectrum to inform decisions about the most appropriate level of engagement to aim for in each phase and with each stakeholder.
  • Allow for the engagement needs of each phase when estimating costs and milestones, before seeking funding approval for that phase.

The ‘Resources and further information’ section of this page also includes links to tools and templates to support engagement planning and relationship management. Alternatively, you can use your organisation’s own tools and templates where these are available.

Right-sizing your engagement

Business case practitioners should use the engagement principles to decide on the fit-for-purpose level of engagement for each business case. This means deciding how the engagement principles can best be applied at each stage of development.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is also about finding the right amount and type of engagement to use in each business case, not simply about doing more. Not enough, or the wrong kind of engagement can lead to problems later on, for example if stakeholders feel they haven’t had genuine input to setting the direction of an investment. Equally, however, too much engagement can place a high demand on stakeholders’ time and availability, set undue expectations, and increase costs.   

Thinking about what fit-for-purpose engagement looks like begins in the PoE and is revisited at the start of each new phase as the business case is developed. A key step in the PoE is to begin thinking about the engagement plan that will guide engagement throughout the activity development and in the next phase business case.

Point of entry phase

Assessment expectations for engagement in business cases

When assessing funding applications from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF), NZTA will seek assurance that the engagement needs have been given appropriate consideration.

When assessing funding applications for business case phases, there are some general expectations that NZTA will look for to help us understand whether the principles relating to engagement are being followed:

  • Do any statutory requirements for engagement apply, for example in regard of Māori or as part of the Local Government Act 2002?
  • Is it clear who the stakeholders are and what their expectations are regarding participation?
  • Have the engagement needs of the next phase been considered, including the level and nature of engagement, and the costs included?
  • How well does the proposed engagement match the potential impact on stakeholders, and the complexity and uncertainty of the investment?

Resources and further information



Information sheets

Need support?

Using engagement effectively can sometimes be challenging so it’s a good idea to seek input from an engagement specialist, either in your own organisation or from an external provider. You can also contact your NZTA investment advisor or email the Business Case Process team at businesscaseprocess@nzta.govt.nz