The management case answers the question:

   How will the project organise for successful delivery?


Why is the management case important?

The key purpose of the management case is to put in place appropriate arrangements for the successful delivery of the business case and its constituent projects, both now and in the future. It plays an important role in helping to refine the recommended option, together with the financial and commercial cases.  

Key actions for the management case

The management case describes how the investment will be delivered, monitored and evaluated. It must consider:

  • how the project will be governed and given appropriate oversight
  • how risks and uncertainties will be managed, particularly where residual risks must be considered in future scope of works
  • how associated business changes will be owned and managed
  • how the activity will be monitored, including for performance against assumptions, trigger points for project start and benefits realisation.

Developing your management case

When is the management case developed?

The management case should be considered and maintained by the business owner throughout the development of the business case in all phases. The management case is a critical input to the project plan, and forms the initial project plan for subsequent phases of work.

The management case can be used to reach an acceptable level of risk within a business case phase by establishing future phase requirements – scope, governance, monitoring or process requirements can be used to recognise, but defer the risk management. This allows decision makers to understand the trade-offs and risks to the decision being made.

What does a good management case include?

At a level appropriate to the phase of development you are in, your management case should detail the arrangements relating to:

  • programme management and/or governance (if applicable)
  • project management
  • change management
  • benefits management
  • risk and uncertainty management
  • consenting strategy
  • post-implementation evaluation.

For guidance on consenting strategy development for NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA)-led projects please contact the Environmental Planning team.

Consenting and consent compliance

Project management  

It’s essential for any project to have good project management strategy, framework and plans in place to ensure successful delivery. The management case needs to show evidence of good project management, though the level of detail required will depend on the business case phase you are working in.

All NZTA transport infrastructure projects must follow the Transport Services project management manual (SM011). Approved organisations may also use SM011, or can use their own approach, but it must be based on a proven project methodology.

Transport Services project management guide (SM011)

Change management

New investments will inevitably have an impact on existing business arrangements and services. The management case must identify what impacts are likely as a result of the proposed changes, and set out the arrangements for managing those impacts.

Benefit management  

Benefits are central to business cases – they are the reason we make investments. The benefits sought from the investment and the appropriate measures are defined in the strategic case and are used to help with optioneering in the economic case. However, the management case needs to show how benefits:

  • will be achieved as the activity proceeds to implementation
  • will be tracked and monitored, once the proposed investment has been implemented.

The management case will contain a benefits realisation strategy, which sets out arrangements for realising each of the project benefits, including how to identify, map, monitor and review. It includes a framework, assigning responsibilities for the actual realisation of those benefits throughout the key phases of the business case.

For more information about the requirements for benefits realisation requirements for the National Land Transport Programme, see our detailed guidance.

How to select benefits and measures

Risks and uncertainties in the management case

A key focus throughout the five-case model is to identify and manage risks and uncertainties.

Risks and uncertainties can arise within each of the five cases. As work progresses, risks and uncertainties must be identified, recorded and tracked. You should also capture the proposed approach to managing each risk or uncertainty, which will ultimately form a key focus for the management case.

Although they are closely related, risks and uncertainties are typically managed in different ways within the BCA. For a detailed overview of how risks and uncertainties are treated throughout the five-case model, including definitions, see our detailed guidance.

Risk and uncertainty in the five-case model

It is good practice to set up registers to track risks and uncertainties from an early stage in the business case. All risks, including those identified in the strategic, economic, commercial and financial cases must be accounted for within the risk register. The registers continue to be used throughout development of the business case to capture risks and uncertainties from each case.

The management case is where the risks and uncertainties are coordinated, including identifying how each risk or uncertainty will be managed going forward into the next phase, or prior to implementation.

What risks should I include?

Particularly when it comes to implementation, there are some risks that are common to transport investments, which can significantly affect project delivery (cost, time and specification). These include, but are not limited to:

  • Ecological monitoring – resource management processes can result in significant monitoring costs that need to be factored into the whole-of-life costs for the project. You will need to think about how these will be funded over an appropriate period: there are instances where monitoring periods of 25 years or longer have been required.
  • Revocation – the costs associated with revocation typically come out of project costs, so need to be included prior to pre-implementation or implementation.
  • Partnership with Māori – you will need to factor in realistic estimates of costs and risks involved. For more information about engagement with Māori, see guidance about engagement in the BCA.
    Engagement and the Business Case Approach
  • Geotechnical issues – unforeseen ground conditions will lead to additional contract costs. Understanding geotechnical issues earlier can inform option selection and help avoid risk. Consider using a staged approach to geotechnical investigations and design, where this will help to manage ground-related risks.
  • Archaeology – it is common to need some level of investigation where construction is involved, however these need to be factored into the project whole-of-life costs. As with geotechnical investigations, it is worth aiming to complete archaeological work before tendering a contract, as the investigations can sometimes result in significant delays to site work starting.
  • Utilities – costs related to utilities can be significantly above current estimates, and where lift-and-shift clauses exist there can be significant delays in starting site work.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, nor is it a replacement for the systematic development of a risk register throughout business case development.

What uncertainties should I consider?

As with risks, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Factors that can lead to significant uncertainties can include, but are not limited to:

  • changes in key assumptions or forecasts, such as:
  • potential or planned land-use change (for example residential, retail, offices)
  • key interdependencies, where a related investment either doesn’t happen, or the timing or scope changes
  • demographic changes, including population growth, decline, or changes in age distribution and socio-demographic characteristics
  • travel-behaviour changes
  • new technology
  • climate change (longer-term effects)
  • short-term or one-off events (sometimes called system shocks), such as:
  • extreme climate events (as opposed to longer-term climate change)
  • global economic impacts

Post-implementation evaluation

The management case needs to set out what steps will be required post-implementation to determine the success of the investment. Depending on the level of complexity, risk and uncertainty involved, these could include:

  • a benefit realisation review, to assess and explain how well projects and packages have achieved their main expected benefits to give an overall assessment of completed projects or packages reviewed
  • any variation between actual results and expected benefits
  • lessons learned to make business improvements
    Debriefing after your business case
  • technical and quality assurance, including post-construction Safe System audits and post-implementation reviews
  • resource management condition monitoring.

The evaluation will need to consider:

  • Were the objectives of the project met? Were there any unexpected outcomes or issues?
  • How well did the project meet key stakeholders needs?
  • How well were critical success factors, such as investment objectives, achieved?
  • What are the key organisational lessons learned post-implementation?

What does engagement look like in the management case?

The level of engagement required for the management case will depend on:

More information about engagement in the BCA is available on our website.

Engagement and the Business Case Approach

Assessing the management case

How do I know if the management case is complete?

This will depend on which phase you are working on, how complex the investment is and how much risk or uncertainty is involved.

However, there are a few things that can help you, including:

  • Talk to your NZTA investment advisor. It’s important to work with your investment advisor throughout the economic case. They will be able to help you get the level of detail right, and avoid missing any important steps.
  • Check against the investment questions, which have been developed to help business case practitioners understand when they have done enough. Questions 13–16 encompass the commercial, financial and management cases, and are designed to test whether:
    • enough work has been done to identify the preferred response from a range of alternatives and options, and
    • the reasons for choosing the preferred response are clear.

How to self-assess your business case

What does NZTA look for from a management case for assurance purposes?

This will depend on the business case development phase being assessed. The expectations for the management case will be different depending on which BCA phase it is in, for example a PBC or a DBC (where the next phase might be implementation).

In general, however, assessors will consider these questions:

  • Is the proposed option sufficiently planned and specified to enable the next phase to proceed successfully?
    • Is it clear what the next steps are, including management and governance arrangements? When, how, where and at what cost?
    • How well is sequencing defined to deliver the preferred option? How will critical dependencies be managed?
  • Are there appropriate plans in place for benefit realisation measurement and reporting?
    • Are there clear and robust arrangements in place for development, approval and subsequent reporting against a benefit realisation plan (measures, targets, benefits, investment objectives)?
    • Has the benefits framework been used appropriately to support development of a benefit realisation plan?
  • Are the risk management arrangements adequate?
    • What are the key risks and uncertainties identified?
    • Has appropriate mitigation/management been identified?
  • Does the consenting plan clearly set out the consenting approaches to the next and subsequent phases? Has the consenting strategy been endorsed at the relevant delegation?
  • Can the activity be successfully delivered, taking into account the programme, costs, risks, timeframe, governance, etc?
    • Is there ample detail included for this activity to successfully scope/plan/deliver the next phase?
    • Is there contingency for delivery of this project? Is there confidence in delivery of this activity?

Resources and further information



Need support?

Contact your NZTA investment advisor or email the Business Case Process team at