Step 1: Business case scoping document

Step 1: Business case scoping document

Last updated 3 November 2016
Last updated 11/03/2016

This page sets out the first step for a tertiary education institution (TEI) developing a business case for an investment.

A TEI wishing to develop and submit a business case must first send us a scoping document for the proposed investment. This may be accompanied by a completed Risk Profile Assessment (RPA) depending on the size and risk of the investment. 

Risk Profile Assessment Tool

These documents will enable writers and assessors to agree on the next steps in developing the business case before any detailed writing or analysis is done. Completed scoping and RPA documents should be emailed to us.

We will agree with you:

  • the scale and risk of the proposal, using the Risk Profile Assessment tool (where applicable) and the scalability matrix
  • whether the solution to the problem the business case addresses is likely to be a discrete project, or would be better dealt with through a larger programme of work
  • whether further work is required to clarify the problem/opportunity and the possible options, benefits, strategic responses and solutions. Most programme business cases require a Strategic Assessment and some project business cases, particularly projects that require a two-stage business case, require an Investment Logic Mapping (PDF, 37 Kb) exercise
  • the level and depth of analysis required in various stages of developing the business case
  • the level and depth of independent quality assurance required in various stages of developing the business case
  • the level of effort and cost for development and assurance
  • the timing and nature of engagement and decisions required including how these fit with other processes required by the TEI (ie, council approval) or by us (ie, budget processes).

How to complete a scoping document

The content required in scoping documents is determined by the scale and risk of the proposal under consideration. Large-scale or risky business cases, or large programmes containing many individual projects, require more content and depth of analysis than smaller or less risky proposals.

A copy of the scoping document can be downloaded from the The Treasury's website - Better Business Cases - Guidance.  For questions on which scoping document to use, read the information below and/or email us.

How to determine whether a proposal is large scale

Proposals that require Cabinet or ministerial approval and/or that require Crown funding are considered significant proposals. These are usually large-scale, high-risk proposals in terms of financial or risk thresholds. These are proposals with whole-of-life costs (WOLC) in excess of $15 million. WOLC are based on The Net Present Value (NPV) of cash costs of the proposal under consideration. Cash costs include the initial capital or operating costs, plus cash operating costs for the expected life of the asset, discounted using the Public Sector Discount Rate. Operating costs may include costs of operational personnel if this is an essential part of the proposal.

Refer to Cabinet Office circular CO (15) 5 Investment Management and Asset Performance in the State Services for more information.

How to determine whether a proposal is high risk

The risk of a proposal is determined using the Risk Profile Assessment (RPA) tool available on the State Services Commission’s website.

This tool comprises 26 multiple-choice questions that identify, at a high level, a project's risk. It is not an exhaustive risk analysis model and it does not replace the need for you to perform your own detailed risk analysis and management throughout a project's lifecycle.

If a proposal, not including programmes, is deemed to be high risk it must go through the Gateway Review Process. You may choose to also obtain assurance for moderate risk or large scale programmes or projects via the Gateway Review Process.

The timing of when a Gateway Review is started depends on the nature of the business case. For programme business cases, the Gateway Review process may not be required until individual projects have begun. Assurance for programmes may be better met through a third party (independent) quality assurance process.  

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