A description of the activities that will be undertaken if your business case is successful.

The necessity for an implementation plan will greatly depend on the format of your business case and the level of detail required by stakeholders. A plan can simply be an outline of the activities (which will ensure your proposal is implemented successfully) through to an in depth description of execution such as specific milestones, deadlines and targets.

Your background research should reveal what level of detail is expected for a business case of the scope you are considering at your organization. You may find that other aspects of your business case (such as the resourcing/ financial analysis) will be important in supporting your business case plan.  Note that if your organization uses a particular project planning process or standard, it may be important to align your implementation plan with it.

Your implementation plan may include:

  • Outline of Scope. Providing initial detail of the scope which is encompassed by your business case plan will help you with the entire planning process. Providing this information will also make it easier for stakeholders to understand what your business case will and will not achieve and how it will link with your aims and objectives. Larger projects will potentially change as they progress from start to finish. This could be the result of a change in circumstances, budget, availability of resources etc. Ensuring that the scope of your implementation plan has been outlined in the first instance will help to avoid scope creep (where one or more aspects of a project require additional time, resource or budget due to poor planning). However, it can also make it easier to ensure that informed and necessary changes can be approved by the relevant stakeholders if needed. Outlining the scope of your business case does not need to be daunting, you simply need to set out the boundaries.

  • Objectives. It is important to clearly outline what your business case will achieve. Including a brief set of objectives can make it clear to stakeholders what will be accomplished. These objectives should be measurable. Below are a few ways in which your objectives could be presented:

    • SMART Objectives. ‘SMART’ stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. These prompts can help you to develop attainable goals and objectives for your business case plan. 

    • Targets. Details of the business case targets would include a set of fixed goals which would be reached during the course of implementing your business case.

    • Milestones. Objectives can be broken down into a number of milestones, which are a specific point in time that is used to measure the progress of your implementation.

    • Timeline. Presenting the main objectives of your plan on a timeline will allow you to show key dates alongside the relevant target. A timeline can be more easy to digest, as long as you do not have a particularly complex plan (in which case something like a Gantt chart would be more beneficial in helping you to lay out each aspect individually).

  • Dependencies and Assumptions. Dependencies relate to other organizational activities, elements of infrastructure, or other factors external to the activities described in the business case but on which success of the plan is dependent. Assumptions refer to elements of the plan where there are expectations about issues such as decisions that will be made, elements of work that will be carried out, or resources that will be made available. The dependencies and assumptions made during the planning stages can be closely linked to the risks of a business case. If there are heavy assumptions made in the early stages of a plan, this can lead to issues during execution. For this reason, it is important to consider how these decisions made can affect the viability of the business case as a whole.

  • Roles and Responsibilities. Providing a list of roles and responsibilities will help you to identify the resourcing levels needed in order for your business case to be implemented successfully. These will depend on the number of people who are involved with executing your plan and what is expected of each person. A list of roles accompanied by bullet points describing the activities each role is responsible for can be an easy way to show this information. Defining roles and responsibilities at an early stage can help to avoid confusion when executing the plan. You may find that roles and responsibilities may develop and change multiple times during the planning stages, however, you should be able to avoid adding to or changing them during the execution of your plan.

  • Project Governance. Consideration of project governance should accompany planning of your roles and responsibilities. The two aspects are closely linked and it is important to think about how each of the roles should feed into the other and whether there is a need for a decision making hierarchy, escalation routes, a steering group, or similar.

  • Fix Forward Planning. Thinking about a "fix forward" for your business case is crucial in ensuring that whatever you implement can be updated, utilized and maintained following the initial launch or implementation. Whatever you plan to do, this may cause changes in basal costs for your organization. Any changes to this need to be discussed in your risks or benefits. You should aim to avoid a situation where time and resources are spent implementing a new system or process only for it to fall into disuse. For example, if a business case seeks to establish a new digital preservation system, then considerations should be made for:

    • Use. Who will use the new system? Have they been trained to a competent level such that the system will be used and updated? If this has not been considered, it would be beneficial to check this before submitting the plan or budget estimate.

    • Resourcing. Who will keep it updated? Does this require the creation of a new permanent position within the organisation?

    • Maintenance. Will there be any ongoing or regular costs associated with maintaining the system that you have implemented? If so, this would need to be factored into the basic running costs of the organisation.

    • Licencing/leasing. This is detailed further in the Resourcing/Financial Analysis section and could be related to licensing of software or leasing of specific equipment etc.

    • Exit strategy. Planning for the end of life for a new system will prevent costly digital preservation issues. See the DPC Digital Preservation Procurement Toolkit.

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