Category Archives: Articles

Seven Deadly Sins – Business Case Management

Continuing our series of blogs: Seven Deadly Sins that lead to regular and highly predictable failure on a range of topics.

Today we are focusing on Business Case Management, an organisational ritual that doesn’t seem to stem the tide of failure, despite the enormous amounts of time spent preparing them.

  1.  Failing to maintain the business case. Many failures only come to light late on in delivery because most organisations do not track ongoing viability within the project or programme, or evolving changes in the environment
  2. Thinking that project success is about Time/Cost/Scope – without including benefits and value, the time/cost/scope trilogy can be misleading for programmes in particular
  3. Forgetting that you have to deliver the change, not just get it past the approval committee. So much effort goes into gaining approval, it can come as quite a shock when it has to move from a document into delivery.
  4. Starting with assumptions on what the solution should be blinds you to the best options. So many projects and programmes go wrong because the solution was decided before the business case work started, the business case then becomes the justification for a way of doing it rather than a genuine options appraisal.
  5. Failing to fully engage stakeholders of the full impact of the business case upon them, consequently on the way through the approvals process it is ambushed or once it goes into delivery, unexpected costs begin to emerge.
  6. Hiding the full costs of the initiative will always lead to trouble. The costs of change are invariably underestimated in a business case in the hope that some unsuspecting party will pick up the bill.
  7. Failing to adequately apply risk rating to the costs or the benefits. Without risk rating, both sides of the justification increases the risk of failure, organisations are increasingly applying a risk mitigation to the costs, but few are applying a risk factor to the benefits. Either side can move up or down.

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Define the problem – a guide to investment logic mapping (ILM)

Investment Logic Mapping was all the rage a few years ago but it has been lost in time. It originated in Australia and provided an approach to developing the justification for a business investment.


ILM is a brilliant way to understand the problem, think about the outcomes and clarify where the costs and benefits sit. They should be made compulsory in all Programme Briefs!

This guide by Ed Brown (Aspire Assess Director) outlines why you should use Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) to see what value the use of ILM will bring to your investments.

It is a powerful and extremely cost-effective way to bring shape and structure to your investment before you head off into expensive blind alleys.

We hope you find this useful

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Filed under Articles, Business Project Management, Planning

Fresh Look – Vision statements

We thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the guiding principles that underpin the world of portfolio, programme and project management. In a world of information overload, it is very easy to lose sight of what matters.

mountain top

In this post, we visit the old vision statement chestnut. Everyone loves talking about visions and leadership but when the opportunity comes to put them into practice within a programme environment, quite frankly most of them are about as much use as an umbrella in a wind tunnel.

In this article, we briefly reflect on a topic that is at the source of most programme failures due to not establishing a vision that people understand and genuinely commit to, is a core source of programme failure.


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Prosci or APMG Change Management – which one is right for you?

Both APMG Change Management and Prosci offer certification programmes for people seeking to know more about change management. In the recent times, these are increasingly seen as alternatives or competitors and many potential candidates want to know how these offers differ. This white paper written by Chris Moore (Aspire Accelerate Director) and Robert Cole (Managing Director for C4CM), should help you decide which one is right for you.

If you find the article useful – please let us know


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Why is learning from failure so difficult?

One of the great mysteries is why is it we keep making the same mistakes or doing blindingly stupid things. The P3M industry is just a reflection of wider society, as programmes and projects fail repeatedly for  the same reasons, yet each time it seems to come as a complete surprise.

TSO asked Aspire Europe to write the guest article for their website, so we decided to focus on this topic and share our insights. We hope you find the article useful

If just one word from this article triggers a thought or an idea that improves your performance at any time in the future, then it will have been worthwhile.


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“What’s your problem?” A guide to the benefits of Investment Logic Mapping

This guide by Ed Brown (Aspire Assess Director) outlines why you should use Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) and the good value the use of ILM will bring to your investments. They’re a powerful and extremely cost-effective way to bring shape and structure to your investment before you head off into expensive blind alleys.

If you find the article useful – please let us know

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Case study – Thameslink – the amazing journey

Late last year we were commissioned to write a lessons learned report on the Network Rail Thameslink programme to enable other organisations to learn from their experiences.

Once we started work it became clear that there had been extensive documentation of lessons throughout the lifecycle, the problem was that people weren’t listening.

The challenge therefore was find a way to communicate the lessons that this amazing programme had faced and how they overcame them and the lessons that others can learn from this experience in a format that could be consumed.

The scale of the assignment has led us to invoke a number of new techniques beyond this case study that enabled key individuals to share their passion, their pains and gain through the use of videos and workshops to ensure their story wont be lost.

Rather than a formal report, we have created a case study and supporting videos to communicate the message. This Thameslink case study provides an insight into workings off a major infrastructure programme, and how they in effect developed and approach that has become the second generation of programme management within Network Rail.

Thameslink review case study

In addition to this report, we also produced a paper on the challenges in general around lessons learned and knowledge sharing, based on our experiences on this assignment.




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