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1. Contents of full business case

Executive summary

Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) advice: the executive summary is a stand-alone companion document to the main body of the report. It provides an outline of the proposal and the business concept, a summary analysis of the options and alternatives considered and details of the preferred option. Text, graphics, and tables of critical numbers should be used to present the key arguments and findings to decision makers.

Comment: cover all high-level issues that would be covered in an executive director's briefing.

  • Clear, succinct summary of the service delivery requirement to be addressed.
  • Project objectives.
  • Alignment with government, departmental, and program strategic directions.
  • Options considered.
  • Summary of evaluation of options.
  • Project readiness.
  • Budget and funding implications.
  • Project risks and risk management strategies.
  • Project profile model.
  • Gateway (or other) reviews.
  • Performance measures.
  • Next steps in progressing project.

The executive summary should be three pages for small projects, a maximum of five pages for complex projects. Write it as if this is the only part of the document that will be read. It should cover all the issues that a decision maker will need to know about.

Write the executive summary at the end of the documentation, but do leave sufficient time to write it. It can be time consuming to get the arguments and logic clear in a few pages.

If it is written well, the executive summary can be used as the main source of briefing material.

Use short summary tables where these help clarify the points made.

Project objectives and scope

DTF advice: this should provide clear statements of the objectives and scope of the proposed initiative and its connection to government priorities and the department’s strategic plan.

  • Strong and convincing evidence is required of the degree to which the proposed initiative or program aligns to those priorities.
  • It is to include a review of the objectives in the wider social and economic context.
  • Include key performance indicators and/or measures relating to the proposal or initiative indicating how performance in meeting the project objectives will be measured.
  • The objective and the scope should be re-examined and be reaffirmed at each significant milestone throughout the project development process.
  • The proposal needs to be completely and accurately represented and justified in non-technical terms.

The layout of this section is very similar to the strategic business case template and should be largely drawn from that document if it has been completed. The section is seeking to demonstrate that the project is aligned with government and Department of Health and Human Services strategic plans and addresses identified needs.

The reader should gain an understanding of the key policy and planning issues that have influenced the project’s development.

The focus should be on government’s service delivery requirements, priorities, commitments and outcomes rather than focusing on the outputs, activities or solutions.

For example: the service requirement is to provide 24 hour access to secondary level emergency department services for patients within the primary catchment area of the hospital.

Rather than: the service requirement is for a new 20 cubicle purpose built state-of-the-art emergency department.

As a quality check ask, 'Does the section clearly explain why the project is needed?'


This section is available to inform a reader unfamiliar with the project, of important background or historical information that is outside of the policy context, and won't be picked up in other sections. For projects that have been developed within the policy context, it is probably unnecessary, as the executive summary will have summarised the key elements for the reader.

For projects that have a long or complex development history, or have unique features, this section can be used to ensure that the reader is provided with relevant background information.

Policy context

The policy context should briefly summarise the key policy directions and documents relevant to the project.

Consider: state government financial statements, cabinet endorsed strategies, cabinet or Budget and Expenditure Review Committee (BERC) decisions.

Departmental: departmental plan, published departmental strategies, divisional funding strategies or programs. Check for policy documents in other departments, divisions, regions or local bodies that might impact or interface with the project’s scope.

Regional: consider policy decisions in related areas that may impact on project, particularly if recently funded.

Agency: consider current agency strategic planning.

Federal government: identify any related projects that might need consideration within the project, e.g. decision of state / federal governments to fund and build a new university department on site.

All Department of Health metropolitan documents should refer to:

  • Metropolitan Health Strategy
  • Growing Victoria Together
  • Labor Financial Statement
  • Agreed Health Service Strategic Plan (from 2005-).

Refer to departmental business case documentation - library of resources for other prompts.

Project objectives and critical success factors

This section should summarise the primary objectives of the project.

The objectives will be used extensively throughout the project - including briefings, summary documents, budget papers and communications. It is difficult to justify and support a project without clear objectives, so it is of great value to have these agreed at an early point of the project.

The objectives should:

  • focus on the key messages for the project
  • clearly state what the department will achieve from the project
  • be short, precise, measurable and free of jargon
  • be able to be used to judge the success of the project
  • be able to be used as evaluation criteria for the high level solutions developed.

The following table can be used. For simple projects, middle column could be omitted.

This section could also include statements of vision, commitment, partnership or other less tangible objectives that will contribute to the project’s success.

Examples of objectives are included in the strategic business case template and library of resources.

The following objectives and critical success factors have been identified for the project.

The { } Project ObjectivesTo be achieved byCritical success factors

Note. By measurable, it is meant that the objective can reasonably be judged to have succeeded.

For example: an emergency department project would be expected to (say) increase throughput, decrease waiting times, improve triage performance, reduce access block, but not to improve population health outcomes.

Alignment with strategic objectives

The purpose of this section is to document how the project objectives fit with or contribute to strategic objectives of the government, department, program or agency.

The strategic objectives will probably be identified within the policy directions identified.

It is important to have a critical view point of the alignment, and to provide quantitative measures if they are available.

The section should also detail and/or cross reference links with other capital plans. Particularly important is ranking on the department strategy lists, asset planning lists and departmental / divisional / regional / agency priorities.

The strategic objectives must include strategies from:

  • Metropolitan Health Strategy
  • Growing Victoria Together.
  • { } Proposal alignment with these objectives is demonstrated by: 

    Strategic objectiveAlignmentEvidence

    Description of service need

    A clear and succinct description must be given of all elements of the outputs/service to be provided, including the scope of services to be delivered. Project outputs should have quantitative performance measures resulting from the asset proposal.

    • This includes assessing the full range of service outputs that may be included to enhance eventual value for money.
    • Proposals must directly contribute to the identified outputs and associated measures.

    This section should summarise the scope of the services to be provided.

    Description of the service development process should be sufficient to convey a sense of how detailed or complete the planning has been.

    Append service plans in appendix and summarise the issues that relate directly to the investment decision. Focus on the needs to be met.

    Generally, this will include key points on:

    • demographic trends
    • demand drivers, illness trends, utilisation (inpatients, outpatients, ED presentations, operations, occasions of service), access issues
    • service deficiencies (gaps between needs and ability to provide)
    • model of care
    • change of role of facility (new services, alternative services, role-conversion)
    • operational or organisational efficiency
    • maintenance of asset or building fabric
    • patient safety, regulatory compliance, OHS issues
    • capacity of asset to sustain service delivery (building fabric, building services condition, site infrastructure condition).

    Summarise the section with a tabular presentation of the services to be provided within the development. Try to convey a sense of volume, scope and complexity.

    Some projects will benefit from a brief section on existing conditions: a description of the conditions and limitations under which services are currently provided from. The section will be particularly useful where the project involves relocation, rebuilding or refurbishing existing facilities. Where existing conditions are well described in supporting documentation (e.g. condition surveys) it may be sufficient to quote the major findings and reference the report in the appendices.

    Stakeholder identification

    Key stakeholders need to be identified, noting that this often includes other government departments, other levels of government, third parties including non-government agencies and the public.

    • Provide a summary of the nature of these relationships and the potential impact of the proposal. A high-level consultation plan needs to be included.
    • Present the wider implications of the proposal, including the impact on any other proposals which are dependent on this proposal or should be jointly considered to give optimal cross government outcomes.
    • Have the key stakeholders who are providing information been able to certify the accuracy of information submitted?
    • The clients who are the intended end users of the services proposed also need to be identified and, where appropriate, information should be provided on the likely demand and any charging policies to recover costs (either in full or in part).

    Some stakeholders may be disadvantaged or not fully informed and thus not support the proposal. Other stakeholders may resist change due to fear of the unknown ('not in my backyard'), and actively resist the proposal. In these cases it will be necessary to outline a formal communication strategy to address these issues, including possible public communication from the responsible minister.

    The following overview identifies key stakeholders, issues for each stakeholder (including potential stakeholder interests, objectives, conflicts and opportunities for synergies) and the action planned to resolve conflicts or maximise opportunities.

    Consider and amend the table accordingly:

    • Who are the key stakeholders to be involved or impacted by the proposal?
    • What are the potential impacts (both positive and negative)?
    • How have these been managed – what has been the outcome
    • How will these be managed for the remainder of the project
    • How will additional stakeholder input to the proposal be sought and managed?
    • Where a communications plan has been developed, summarise plan after the table.
    StakeholderIssuesActions and outcomes
    Staff of metropolitan health services and community health services.

    Support for project.

    Development and adoption of new procedures.

    Travel to new facilities.

    Administration of partnership, funding and facility.

    Project implementation.

    Achieve firm commitment to partnership agreements.

    Achieve endorsement of project scope and objectives from the partnership and individual entities.

    Achieve endorsement of a project brief that outlines joint roles and responsibilities, timelines and other critical project delivery outcomes.

    Establish project governance structures.

    Establish a joint planning team for each project.

    Develop and implement communication strategy at key stages of the project.

    Develop implementation plans.

    Through planning teams, involve staff in service and facility planning.

    Establish change management teams.

    Metropolitan health services and community health service boards. Endorsement and ongoing support of each is required from respective boards. Engagement of boards in project planning through regular briefings and presentations.
    Metropolitan health service community advisory committees. The community advisory committees have a role in developing services that are more responsive to the needs of the catchment population / community and to improve the accessibility, appropriateness and quality of services to consumers. Consultation of both patients and carers via the community advisory committee in development of model of care and care processes.
    Current (and future) patients.

    The key users of the service have specific needs and requirements.

    In order to achieve the aims of being patient centred, consumer consultation and engagement is needed.

    Involve consumers in the development of model of care.

    Seek consumer engagement in designing the process of care.

    Develop and implement communication strategy at key stages of the project.

    Industry peak bodies and professional groups (e.g. unions, learned colleges).

    Implementation of a new model of care may have industrial relations and workforce implications.

    Develop and implement a consultation strategy to engage health service unions.

    Work through existing standing committees in each agency.

    Develop a workforce strategy to facilitate recruitment and retention of staff.

    Engage workforce in development of new models of care.

    Commonwealth government

    Alignment with federal policies on ............

    New models of care may require new agreements between state and federal governments.

    Other metropolitan health services Potential impact on other health service referral patterns. {} were consulted during development of.
    Local primary care services, in particular GPs, referring medical specialists, and primary care partnerships (PCPs).

    Support of local GPs and medical specialists is required for effective model of care.

    The new model of care may require alteration to the process of referral.

    Involve GPs and other referring practitioners in the development of the model of care and referral and discharge process.

    Local residents

    Local residents wish to be kept informed of potential developments in local area.

    Potential concerns re site development, traffic, parking.

    Implement local community consultation and communication process.

    Traffic management to be considered during schematic design.

    Consideration of other civic issues during all phases of the project.

    Provide information to residents at key stages of the project. 

    Local government

    Local government may share local residents concerns on issues.

    Sites may require local government planning approval.

    Local government health and community services interface with {}.

    Future development {}.

    Local government representatives have been {}.

    Communicate with the local governments at key stages of the Project.

    Seek engagement of local service providers in designing the process of care.

    Traffic management and other planning issues to be considered in schematic design process.

    Department of Health program areas. Ensure that departmental programs appropriately support {} development and implementation.

    Consult with departmental program areas at key stages of the project.

    Key departmental program areas to be included in project reference groups.

    Government departments (Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet and Department of Treasury and Finance). Successful 2005-06 Asset Investment Program bid required to fund {}.

    Regular briefings to DTF at key stages of the project.

    Comply with department requirements and timelines as they relate to project planning.

    Communications strategy

    Outline communications strategy where relevant.

    Include discussion on how stakeholders have been engaged, and plans to address specific or contentious issues for the project.