The Association for Project Management (APM) suggests that the project business case provides justification for undertaking a project by evaluating benefit, cost and alternative options. The main purpose is to obtain approval and commitment for investment in the project (Association for Project Management 2006, p.129 and MGT8022, USQ 2013). According to Project Management Institute (PMBOK, PMI 2013), the business case describes information from a business standpoint to determine whether or not the project is worth of investment. It is used as a decision making tool by senior leadership. Based on the above, US Toys business case (attached as Appendix I) is being examined with a review of process and process control, project management literature and project management framework. According to Turner (2009), performance improvement can come from sources like operational efficiency, organization effectiveness or higher order strategic issues due to changes in technology or overall business strategy. New capabilities will not solve the problems blocking performance improvement directly but rather it is necessary to achieve intermediate benefits before realizing the main benefit. It is evident from the business case that US Toys has purchased a software solution called Demand Chain Management whose full benefit will be show-caused by integrating it with its legacy warehouse management system.
During initial planning phases, appropriate team members or groups should be involved so that they contribute and create auxiliary ideas (Young 2006). Key components of business case like project purpose, objectives and success criteria were established, US Toys business case misses on holistic identification of stakeholders and other critical components. Business case is a recommendation to take a particular course of action supported by benefits, costs and risks analysis (Journal reference). Critical elements of a business case applied to the case scenario are summarized in the following table DefinitionDiscussionUS Toys Business caseA business case should be a recommendationRecommendation should have finely balanced options providing purpose and direction.Business case lists two cost impact options with a nothing option to continue current processes. However, it does not list supporting analysis on why option 3 is recommended.
Providing supporting analysis of benefits with the option will influence business decision.For the organisationA business case is worth for significant projects in organisationBusiness case pertains to increased operational efficiency and hence it is a significant project for the organisation.Supported by analysis of benefitsBusiness case requires exegesis of strategic rationale as well as more detailed, systematic analysis of benefitsUS Toys business case lists options but lacks systematic analysis and strategic rationale.CostsCost estimation is the difficult aspect in a business case but without it, the case cannot be madeCost estimates provided in the business case appear to be high level. It would be good if Return on Investment (ROI) and break even duration are provided as an additional supporting analysis.RisksProjects involve risks and understanding and taking ownership of risk is an essential part of a business caseUpon evaluation, US Toys business does not have risk management process or risk scoring methodology. (Adapted from Gambler 2009, Making the business case Table 1.1 on page 2).
Upon review of US Toys business case, it is evident that the enhancements to the existing Warehouse Management System are undertaken for achieving operational efficiency and technology as depicted in below figure. Figure Achieving performance improvement (Adapted from Turner, 2009, Chapter 2 figure 2.2) The targeted benefits lists operational efficiency and leveraging new technology in the form of interfaces to purchased package solution. From the above figure, it is evident that performance is directly proportional to the time involved. The higher the targeted performance the more time required. However, US Toys Business case has not included duration of the project. One of the key definition of project is a project will have definite start and end time in other words a fixed duration during which resources, tools and organizational efficiencies are logically grouped to achieve an agreed upon outcomes. The business case provides a consolidated and summary-level overview of the project. It should address objectives, critical success factors, and communication plan and measurement framework to measure the work being undertaken. It will form the baseline from which the project planning can proceed (MGT8022, USQ 2013) The more formal business case contains more quantitative information for decision making purposes.
Applying these principles to US Toys Business case, it is evident that it does not include detailed quantitative information. Though SOWT/TOWS analysis has been included in the Appendix, it does not cross reference to the main objectives of the purpose. While presenting the business case to the stakeholders, it is imperative to talk about key strengths of the organization and how they can be leveraged to overcome the weaknesses or to exploit opportunities for the benefit of the organization. In addition to this, benefit analysis is shown for the option being recommended. This gives an impression of being forced to take that option instead of recommendation. By including benefit analysis for the option 2 outright purchase of a pre-packaged application, business case would have provided a comparison for the stakeholders in taking an informed decision. Upon review of US Toys business case, it is evident that risk assessment involves continuous monitoring and assessment ongoing basis. It would be beneficial to use spiral model for the proposed solution. By clarifying on the future risks unknown at the point will be known in the course of time during project execution. This provides a framework to manage risks.
Figure (Adapted from Turner, 2009 The Spiral Model Chapter 11, figure 11.3) As depicted in the above figure, by advising an appropriate model like spiral model, will provide a framework of project management methodology being followed for the proposed project. This will clarify to the decision makers that process of risk assessment is continuous and does not end with those listed in the business case. As the project progresses, a mechanism is in place to identify risks and appropriate risk response planning is incorporated. According to Turner (2009), projects has three levels of planning the integrative level, the strategic level and tactical level. The business case would have presented with greater value by defining the objectives at the above three levels like efficiency improvement as strategic level, achieving integration of Warehouse Management System with the recently procured Demand Chain Management system as integration level and reduced cycle times in supply chain as tactical level. The summarized objectives as listed in the following table will be value-add to the business case.
LevelObjective of the proposed projectStrategicWarehouse operational efficiency improvementTacticalReduced cycle times in replenishment of stock at stores country-wideIntegrativeSynergy by integrating with Demand Chain Management system Based on the above analysis, it is recommended for all future projects, US Toys project management team should employ a systematic project management processes in addressing their deficiencies particularly financials and controls analysis in the formation of business case. The successful project deliverables are dependable upon system thinking approach involving people, structures and application of processes. It is also recommended that to provide an assessment of the Project/Stakeholder relationships to have a better understanding of relationships. References Archibald, R 1992, Managing high technology programs and projects, 2nd edn, John Wiley, New York, USA. Gambles, I 2009, Making the business case proposals that succeed for projects that work, Ashgate, Farnham, UK, pp. 1-20. Gardiner, PD 2005, Project Management A Strategic Planning Approach, Palgrave Macmillan, New York MGT8022 Project-based management, Study book -University of Southern Queensland, 2013. PMI 2013, A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 5th edn, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.
Turner, RJ 2009, The handbook of project-based management Leading strategic change inorganisations, 3rd edn, McGraw Hill, New York Young, TL 2006, Successful Project Management, 2nd edn, Kogan Page Limited, London. APPENDIX – I US Toys – BUSINESS CASE Introduction US Toys is a leading seller of Toys merchandise in the world with 700 plus stores in United States and 900 plus international stores located in United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Japan. This business case is for proposed enhancements to current Warehouse Management System for increased operational efficiency. Demand Chain Management (DCM) is a Teradata product currently employed by the US business to control inventory flow from the vendor-to-DC (Distribution Centre) and DC-to-store. DCM supports the full automation of these functions by utilizing the RDF (Retail Demand Forecast) forecast and applying proactive inventory management policies. Included in scope for the DCM project are enhancements to the International Warehouse Management System (WMS) to enable to efficiently process store replenishment orders generated by DCM. Overview Vision To ship less quantity of an item to stores but more frequently and ensure that forecasted demand (from RDF) is covered, as well as minimum shelf stock (MSS).
Organisational Objective US Toys is restructuring its business operations for cost effectiveness and has set a target of improving operational efficiency by 10 by year 2014. By shipping less quantity but frequently will result in reduced idle inventory in stores and distribution centres. Business Case Purpose of Business case DCM will generate new SOQs (Store Order Quantity) each day that will be used to pull goods from DCs to Stores as needed, based on the sales demand forecast from RDF. Instead of processing a large batch of Transfers early in the week, the DCs workload will likely adjust so that smaller waves are processed each day for stores that have a scheduled delivery (Appendix C System Flow). Maximize cross dock ability (to ship the goods to stores, which have been received by Distribution Centre on the same day hence eliminating storage space and effort for put away operations (Appendix C System Flow).
Business Case Sponsor This business case is sponsored by Senior Vice President Merchandising Senior Vice President Purchasing Situational Assessment and Problem Statement Current process and its limitations when compared to the proposed solution can be summarized in the following table Operational Process/AttributeCurrent ProcessProposed SolutionFrequencyStores get shipment from DC once in a week which is resulting in huge costs in terms of trailers, labour and storage (floor area)Instead of processing a large batch of Transfers early in the week, DCs workload will likely adjust so that smaller waves are processed each day for stores that have a scheduled delivery.User InterfaceCurrent process has to be run from a legacy terminal and maintenance of these terminals is cost intensive.A new web interface is being proposed for the DC to use to plan and create waves that will process both Transfers and Receivers from Interactive Transfers System (existing Legacy system), as well as SOQs from DCM. By having a web interface, wave can be planned and process from any system (like PC or Laptop) instead of current use of legacy terminalsCross Dock EfficiencyCurrently receivers (shipment from vendors) and transfers (shipment from DC to stores) are run independently. This limits cross dock ability.To maximize cross-dock, daily receipts will be processed for all stores, each day.
PrioritizationCurrent process does take into account trailer capacity. This results in shipping those goods which are not required immediately. Goods which are required urgently are put onto next trailer which results in a weeks delay.Service Level Maintenance is being proposed through a web interface which will be used as input in generating the wave. If a trailer does not have capacity, low priority goods will be excluded from that days shipment and will be included in subsequent wave.Optimize Case PickCurrent transfer system does not optimize case picks (where a carton has to be opened and ship said individual pieces).The proposed system will utilize current and future needs of a store for optimizing the case picks to a full carton thereby case pick operation is optimized. Assumptions and Constraints Based on SWOT/TOWS analysis as listed in Appendix A, following assumptions and constraints have been summarised. Assumption DCM system is live and in use before building the proposed system. All web interfaces are being developed for Internet Explorer browser. Proposed enhancements are for International Warehouse Management System and do not include domestic transfers/receipts. Any customisation to DCM is not included in the current scope.
Constraints Proposed enhancements will handle multiple distribution centres within a country. Cross country transfers are not possible. Identification and Analysis of Options Identification of Options Following options are available to the organization Option 1Do nothing Option 2Purchase packed Warehouse Management System and interface with Demand Chain Management system. Option 3Enhance the current in-house developed Warehouse Management System. Comparison of Options Key parameter comparison of options is summarized as CriteriaOption 1Option 2Option 3CostNothingUS 1.5 million plus recurring license fee of US 7,500 per instance if purchased instance basis or 25,000 enterprise wide.US 0.5 million and no on-going costs as current support teams can support the enhanced system.HardwareNot applicableServer Infrastructure need to be upgraded costing US 1 million.None as Current infrastructure can handle the enhancements.Benefits to PurchasingNot applicableIntegrated packaged solution will benefit purchasing in making purchasing decisions based on actual stock in DC stores and forecasted demand.
Enhanced Warehouse Management System is integrated with DCM thus providing enhanced abilities to make purchasing decision.Benefits to MerchandisingNot applicableOff the shelf package require customization to enable Merchandising to integrate with current legacy systems.Ability to run transfers/receipts on daily basis will result in efficient use of Distribution Centre floor space, trailers and labour. Recommended Option Based on the comparison and benefit analysis in Appendix B, Option 3 Enhancements to Warehouse Management system is recommended for the organization at this point in time. Implementation Strategy Based on the details explained in section 6, Enhancements to Warehouse Management System is scoped as below Project Title Project is being name as iWMS Internet enabled Warehouse Management System Target Benefits Web Interface to plan and create waves to process transfers and receipts. Web interface to maintain service levels for inventory (Prioritization) Optimized case pick and re-packing Outputs Browser based interactive screen to process transfers and receipts.
Integration with DCM system to update replenishment information for future demand forecasting. Budget Cost break down of Option 3 Enhancements to Warehouse Management System. ActivityEstimated Cost (in US Dollars)Initiation and planning25,000Development Costs300,000Testing Unit and integration25,000Implementation Costs including documentation, training and travel.150,000 Appendix A SWOT/TOWS Analysis Strengths-SWeakness-W1. Brand Value1. Inefficient use of floor space in DC.2. Quality Processes2. Delay in shipping high priority goods to stores3. Own trailers3. Stock out in stores even if the stock is in DCO-OpportunitiesSO – StrategiesWO- Strategies1. Efficient Cross Dock Ability1. By cross docking receipts will improve Distribution Centre floor space and stock the goods for seasonal demands.(S2/O1)1. Increase efficiency in customer communication by several mediums like social media and internet (W1, W3, O1)2.
Web Interface2. Flexibility to run waves either from PC or Laptop S2,S3/O22. Provide fuel efficient means to process transfers/receipts (W1.O2)3. Prioritisation3. By prioritizing goods, high priority goods are delivered to stores just in time (JIT) – S1,S2, S3/O33. Prioritization of goods will result in efficient trailer utilization (W1, W2, O1,O2, O3)T-ThreatsST – StrategiesWT – Strategies1. Increasing Competition1. By scheduling trailers like small or medium instead of standard 18 wheelers result in fuel efficiency (S2,S3,T1,T2, T3)1. Implementing lean, Kanban quality processes to reduce non-value add processes. (W1, T3, T1)2. Increasing fuel costs2. Focus on selected market segment for long term growth and market penetration (S1,S3, T2, T1)2. With high service quality and shelfs full of products, reduce the risk of losing customers (W1, W2, T1, T3)3.