Why you need a business case
A business case is a formal funding request. It provides a detailed overview of your project and additional information about your business problem, the people using the service and the desired outcome. The business case details the outcomes and success metrics that you plan to achieve if the project is approved for capital funding.
A strong business case demonstrates that:
- Your project is a good investment decision for the B.C. government
- Your project provides value to public service employees, B.C. businesses or people living in B.C.
- You can deliver on the proposed project
All business cases are submitted through the DIO Service Portal.
What to include in your submission
Your business case submission has 2 parts: the business case template and a financial workbook. If your funding request is going to the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Digital and Data (DMCDD), you also need to submit a PowerPoint presentation deck.
Business case template
The main component of your submission is the business case itself. The business case template outlines the information you need to include in your case and instructions to write and format your document. Your business case must include:
- Executive signoff from the project sponsor, Chief or Executive Financial Officer (CFO/EFO) and MCIO
- Project details
- Problem statement
- Project outcome statements
- Project success metric statements
- Engagement and research
- Options to address the problem statement
Be prepared for us to ask you to revise or add additional information to your business case to reflect your unique project and situation. This can happen at any stage of the funding request process.
While writing your business case
Work with the DIO to get a pre-review of your business case.
As part of the DIO pre-review, we may ask you to add, clarify or change content in your case. Collaborating with us while writing your business case can significantly reduce the amount of feedback you receive after you submit it.
Connect with your DIO portfolio contact.
After you submit your case
Once you submit your business case to the DIO Service Portal, we review it and provide feedback. We complete this review to ensure that your case aligns with the evaluation criteria and includes any other necessary information. You may need to resubmit your case if we ask you to make significant changes to it after this review.
In addition to your business case, you must submit a financial workbook. The workbook summarizes the components of your funding request and the costs associated with your project.
We’ve provided instructions on how to complete the workbook in the financial workbook template.
DMCDD presentation (for DMCDD requests)
If your funding request is going to the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on Digital and Data (DMCDD), you must submit your draft DMCDD presentation when you submit your final business case.
Schedule a date for your DMCDD presentation before you start writing your business case. Work with your ministry and DIO portfolio contacts to schedule a meeting date for your presentation to the DMCDD.
Choose a date that gives you enough time to prepare and get approval for all the necessary deliverables, including your:
- Business case. You must submit your draft business case at least 9 weeks ahead of your DMCDD meeting
- DMCDD presentation. You need to have enough time to create your presentation and prepare for the meeting
Collaboration produces the best business cases
Collaborating with stakeholder groups during the development of your business case significantly reduces the amount of feedback you receive later in the funding request process. While writing your business case there are 4 main groups you should collaborate with:
- The DIO
- Designated subject matter experts
- Your ministry contact
- Your Ministry Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
We recommend engaging with each group early and often throughout the development of your business case. They’ll support you in forming a well-considered funding request that aligns with the evaluation criteria and takes all necessary funding considerations into account.
The DIO has lots of experience working with project teams on their business cases and unique insight into the funding request evaluation process. While writing your business case, collaborate with the DIO to receive support and guidance, and to get important feedback on the progress of your case. For example, you can:
- Request an example of a good answer for a specific section of the case
- Get feedback on how you’re responding to a specific section of the case
- Invite the DIO to attend brainstorming or business case development meetings with your team
- Share early drafts of your business case for feedback
The DIO will also review your business case to ensure that it’s complete and addresses all the DMCDD evaluation criteria.
Connect with your ministry contact to learn how you can start working with the DIO.
Common types of DIO feedback
Feedback can occur at any stage of the business case process.
If you don’t collaborate with the DIO while writing your business case, you’ll receive feedback after you have submitted your case. Taking the time before you submit to collaborate with the DIO simplifies the review process and significantly reduces the amount of feedback you receive after you have submitted your case.
The DIO asks clarifying questions to ensure they have a good understanding of your project and funding request. The DIO may only need verbal answers to these questions, or we may ask you to update your case.
Most projects will receive some clarifying questions.
For example, questions related to your:
- Problem statement
- Anticipated architecture
- Sustainability plan
Risk or opportunity
The DIO may identify a need for you to collaborate with another stakeholder or adjust an aspect of your case to address an opportunity or risk.
For example, if:
- There’s an opportunity for a partnership with the Exchange Lab
- An aspect of your technical architecture created challenges for past projects and could also present a challenge for yours
- There’s a potential risk that needs to be reviewed by a subject matter expert
Occurs when the options you’ve outlined in your business case are a significant deviation from the strategic direction of the project or present a significant risk to the project or Province.
The DIO will work with you to identify new or revised options.
Re-imagined options may involve:
- Breaking a large or complex project into smaller projects
- Using an existing government asset instead of a new investment, for example common components
The success metrics in your business case will be used to generate specific, measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the project. The DIO may have recommendations to refine your success metrics to make KPI generation easier.
- Which outcome statement does your success metric address?
- Can you measure your success metric? What is the current baseline?
Subject matter experts
Subject matter experts (SME) provide knowledge and expertise in a specific subject, business or technical area.
The SMEs listed in the DIO SME consultation guide can provide advice on topics relevant to your funding request including finance, procurement, hosting, privacy, security, service design and architecture. They can help you brainstorm options and verify the responses in your business case.
You can connect with a SME at any point while developing your business case. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your DIO portfolio contact to help you identify opportunities to work with a SME.
Connect with your ministry contact to discuss your business case. They have lots of experience supporting teams developing funding requests and can help you write a stronger business case.
Your ministry contact can:
- Show you shared resources or common components that you can leverage for your project
- Connect you with sector-level contacts or SMEs that can provide guidance on your case
- Inform you on sector-level governance bodies and policy requirements relevant to your project
If needed, your ministry contact will help you connect with your Ministry Chief Information Officer (MCIO) for additional guidance.
Ministry Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Your ministry contact can help you engage with your ministry CFO. Connect with your CFO to make sure you understand the amortization and operating expense pressures associated with your project.
You should also consult your ministry CFO to make sure your planned project costs qualify as capital expenditures. Operational expenses can’t be funded by capital. For more information on what costs are considered capital expenses, refer to Core Policy and Procedures Manual Chapter I: Tangible Capital Assets and Chapter 5: Capital Asset Management.
How requests are evaluated
Funding requests are evaluated based on criteria developed and approved by the DMCDD. The dollar value of your request determines the individual or group responsible for making a decision on your request.
Funding approval thresholds
Learn more about IM/IT Capital Funding approval thresholds.
While writing your business case, make sure you understand and consider the evaluation criteria evaluators use to assess your business case.
Your business case should clearly indicate how your project addresses each of the evaluation criteria.
Addressing evaluation criteria in the business case
The table below outlines where to address specific evaluation criteria in the business case.
Location in the business case template
- Alignment with government priorities
- Alignment with ministry strategies and/or legislated imperatives
- Relative ministry prioritization
- About the Problem – Strategic Alignment
- About the Problem – Strategic Alignment
- Submitting the business case indicates the ministry has prioritized funding for this initiative
- Articulate what government is buying/building
- Clear articulation of business and user needs the investment will address
- Inclusion of risks and mitigation measures
- Clear success metrics
- Reasonable cost estimates
- Option One (recommended option) –Brief description of the option
- About the Problem – Problem Statement About the Problem – Users About the Problem – Stakeholders
- Option – Risks and Mitigations
- Project Outcomes and Success Metrics – Outcome Statement
Project Outcomes and Success Metrics – Success Metric Statement
- Option – Investment Estimate
- Suitability of proposed delivery approach for the problem at hand
- Suitability of the proposed team and resourcing approach for the project
- Suitability of project governance structure for the project
- Option – Delivery Approach
- Option – Project Team
- Option – Delivery Approach
- Alignment with modern, digital practices
- Re-use of common technology (such as Common Components)
- Default towards open standards
- Promotes equity, accessibility and inclusion
- Option – Delivery Approach Option – Anticipated technical architecture
- Option – Relation to Other Investments
- Option – Anticipated technical architecture
- About the Problem – Promotion of equity, accessibility and inclusion
- Resourcing plan allows for building internal capacity
- Ministry capacity to cover operating costs such as a team to deliver and continuously improve the product
- Option – Delivery Approach
- Option – Solution sustainability
How to write strong success metric statements
Your business case must include success metric statements. Your success metric statements are measurements of how effectively your project is contributing to your desired outcomes.
If your funding request is approved, you’ll use these success metric statements to track the progress and success of your project.
Strong success metric statements are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound).
Your success metric statement must have a single clear objective. If you’re having trouble narrowing each metric down to a single objective, break them up into separate success metric statements.
Your success metric statement must be measurable and indicate the direction of change: increase, decrease or maintain. You don’t need to identify numerical values for your success metric statement at this stage. Later in the funding request process you’ll need to assign current and target values, when you create your baseline.
Your success metric statement must be realistic. The success of your project is evaluated using your success metric statement. Don’t create success metric statements that you’re unlikely to achieve.
Each of your success metric statements should have a clear connection to the outcome statement it’s associated with.
You must be able to set deadlines for your success metric statements. Setting deadlines is not required in the business case. Later in the funding request process you’ll need to set a due date for each success metric statement, when you create your baseline.
Success metric statement examples
The DIO ran a series of workshops on how to write success metric statements. The workshops provided insights into defining and understanding outcomes and success metric statements. Examples include:
BC Wildfire legacy modernization
Increase public safety due to people’s ability to take appropriate action with real-time notifications on active wildfire events and integrated applications to create a unified internal view of wildfire management information for real-time decision making.
Ministry of Finance software migration
Maintain core audit functions of the BC Homeowner Grant program.
Addressing uncertainty in the business case
The information you provide in your funding request should always be realistic. That includes being clear about the information you don’t know.
If there are uncertainties about your project, tell us about them in your business case. Let us know what information you don’t have, why it’s missing and how you plan to get that information in the future. Providing this information allows the DIO to properly evaluate your request. Our primary goal is to help you realize the outcomes of your project. Disclosing uncertainty gives us the information we need to set up your team and project for success.
Having uncertainties or missing information in your business case does not automatically disqualify you from funding. In some cases, we wait for you to provide additional information and in other cases we may issue conditional funding. Conditional funding is funding that we approve on the condition that you meet additional requirements that the DIO specifies when your funding request is approved.
There are 3 common scenarios when a business case includes uncertainties that can result in conditional funding.
Scenario 1: Project has a limited or in progress discovery phase
For multiple reasons, project teams may complete a limited discovery phase or may write their business case while project discovery work is still underway.
While completing the business case template, you may find that the initial discovery work you did is not sufficient to meet the information requirements of the case template. As a result, there may be questions in the business case you can’t answer. For example, you may not have enough information to clearly define the:
- Business problem
- System requirements
- Existing system architecture
- System or process dependencies
- Project stakeholders
In these situations, answer the questions in your business case as thoroughly as you can. If you don’t have all the necessary information, clearly indicate what information you’re missing, how you plan to get it and when. We don’t need to have all the details of your project right away, but we do need to know what information is missing and that you have a plan to get it.
If the missing information is available before you submit your final business case, you can update your case with the missing information as it becomes available. Otherwise, you may be required to complete more discovery prior to funding approval or report back to the DIO with additional information once your project is underway.
Scenario 2: Project includes a legacy system
Sometimes project teams are unsure about the complexity or scope of the project until work is underway. This is often the case when the project involves a legacy system, which can have underlying architecture, business processes or historical context that the project team isn’t aware of. These details are often unearthed once the project is underway and as a result the approach, timeframes and budget can change.
Be clear in your business case that you’re working with a legacy system. Tell us how familiar you are with the system and how much information you have about how it was built, used and maintained. Also let us know how much of your project relies on the legacy system, what parts of the project will reuse the existing system and what parts will be built new. This information helps us effectively evaluate the potential risk of your project.
The DIO sometimes recommends that teams working with legacy systems break up a large project into smaller, more targeted projects. This reduces the risk of unknowns changing the project’s scope. If you’re working with a legacy system, connect with the DIO when you start writing your business case, so we can identify if this is a good option for your team.
Scenario 3: Project has dependencies
When your project requires integration with a product outside your team’s control, there’s more uncertainty and risk. This could be a product from a vendor, another B.C. ministry, a common component or the wider public service.
If your project is dependent on an external product, clearly indicate that in your business case. Tell us who you’re dependent on and for what elements of the project. Conditional funding may be issued on the condition that the 3rd party vendor, ministry or organization confirms their ability to deliver their component of the project.
Get internal ministry approval
You must get internal ministry approval of your business case before you submit it to the DIO Service Portal. Connect with your ministry contact to understand the timelines and process for getting internal approval in your ministry.
Your business case must be approved by your:
- Program or program area sponsor (ADM)
- Ministry Chief Information Officer (MCIO)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
You must include proof of each approval in your business case submission. Approvers can either:
- Apply a digital signature directly in the business case template
- Attach an email in your business case submission that states their approval of the business case. Instructions for this process are in the business case template
Submit the business case
Once you submit your business case, it becomes a formal funding request.
Use the DIO Service Portal to submit your business case. It takes about 5 minutes to upload your business case, financial workbook and any other supporting documents.
Delays in submitting your case to the DIO may cause delays to your funding approval date, especially if your request needs DMCDD approval.
Answer any DIO questions about the business case
The DIO completes an in-depth analysis of your submitted business case to make sure it’s complete and addresses all the evaluation criteria.
During this review, we may ask some final clarifying questions or recommend changes to your case. Make sure someone on your team is available to respond to the DIO and make any necessary changes. Delays in responding to questions or feedback from the DIO at this time may delay your funding approval date, especially if your request needs DMCDD approval.
Once we have reviewed your case, we create a briefing note which we submit to the individual or committee responsible for considering your funding request. The briefing note highlights the critical facts and implications of your funding request and our assessment of your proposed project and solution.
Submit your final business case
If we ask you to make substantial revisions to your case, you must submit a final case with the recommended revisions. Remember, you may also need to update your financial workbook to reflect changes in the case. We’ll tell you if you need to get new approvals from your ministry.
To submit your final case, attach the updated documents to the same DIO Service Portal request you used for your first business case submission. Aim to resubmit your revised business case within 2 weeks of receiving feedback from the DIO. Delays in resubmitting your case may delay your funding approval date, especially if your request needs DMCDD approval.
If your funding request is above the DMCDD threshold, you must also submit your draft DMCDD presentation when you submit your final business case.
DIO Service Portal
Use the DIO Service Portal to submit documentation related to your funding request. You can also use the DIO Service Portal to access your existing finding request submissions, to attach additional documents or add a comment for the DIO.
Create a DIO Service Portal account (optional)
Create an account to view other funding requests made across your ministry.
Creating a DIO Service Portal account isn’t mandatory. You can submit all your funding request documents without an account.
If you have a Jira service account for the Data Systems and Services portal, you don’t need to create a new account. Use your existing Jira username and password to log into the DIO Service Portal.
Receive the outcome of your funding request (for non-DMCDD requests)
If your funding requests is below the DMCDD threshold, your request is evaluated based on the information submitted in your business case. No additional presentations or documentation is required.
The individual responsible for considering your request will review your business case. Once they have made a decision, you’ll receive a funding letter my email, notifying you of their decision. No project spending can happen until you receive your funding letter.
Learn about timelines for funding decisions.
At this point, you have completed the business case process. If your funding request is approved, your next step is to start your project.
For DMCDD requests: Attend the Deputy Ministers’ meeting
You only need to prepare for and attend a Deputy Ministers’ meeting if your funding request is above the DMCDD threshold.
Prepare for the meeting
Once you have confirmed your DMCDD meeting date, the DIO will email you a timeline to help you prepare for your presentation. In addition to DIO timelines, your ministry may have its own processes to prepare for a DMCDD presentation. Connect with your ministry contact to ensure you meet your ministry’s approval requirements and deadlines.
Write and submit your draft presentation
You’ll have up to 5 minutes to present your funding request to the DMCDD, so plan the content of your presentation accordingly. The presentation template is a 10-slide PowerPoint and includes instructions on how to build your presentation. You can find the template under business case templates, forms and documents.
Connect with your DIO portfolio contact for guidance and support while developing your presentation.
You must submit your complete DMCDD presentation to the DIO for review when you submit your final business case.
Before you submit your draft presentation, it must be reviewed by your:
- Program or area sponsor (ADM)
- Ministry Chief Information Officer (MCIO)
You don’t need to provide proof of approval for the draft presentation. Upload the PowerPoint presentation to the DIO Service Portal. The DIO will review your presentation and provide feedback.
Submit your final presentation
Based on feedback from the DIO, revise and finalize your presentation.
Before you submit your final presentation, you must:
- Receive approval from your program or area sponsor (ADM)
- Receive approval from your Ministry Chief Information Officer (MCIO)
- Share the presentation with your Deputy Minister for awareness
To submit your final presentation, upload the PowerPoint file to the same DIO Service Portal request you used for your draft presentation.
Last minute changes
The DIO may request changes to your presentation at any point leading up to your DMCDD meeting date. Ensure that the appropriate people are available to make any changes to your presentation and to provide the necessary approvals.
Teams that collaborated regularly with the DIO while developing their business case and presentation are less likely to receive last minute changes.
How to give the best presentation
As you prepare for your meeting, the DIO can attend practice presentations with your team to provide presentation tips and feedback. We highly recommend you schedule a practice presentation.
On the day of your presentation, arrive at your meeting at your scheduled time. For in-person meetings, you’ll be asked to wait in a waiting room until the DMCDD is ready to hear your presentation. For virtual meetings, you’ll wait in the Microsoft Teams lobby. The DMCDD secretariat will invite you into the meeting when it’s time for you to present.
You’ll have up to 5 minutes to present your funding request, plus an additional 3 minutes to answer questions from the DMCDD. Once you’ve completed your presentation and answered any questions, the DMCDD will ask you to leave the room. The DMCDD won’t discuss your request until you have left.
Receive the outcome of your funding request
Within 2 weeks of the DMCDD meeting, you’ll receive your funding letter if your project was approved. No project spending can happen until you receive your funding letter.
Templates, forms and documents
If you any have questions about the templates or how to complete them, contact your DIO portfolio contact.