Technical projects are often hard to justify in business and financial terms. This is a problem the TOP Value Equation resolves simply.

Some Projects Are Hard to Justify

You know they need to be done but where is the financial return? Where is the required NPV? How are you going to get your 'necessary project' prioritized and approved?

The orthodox business case approaches are not much help since they don’t help you with your project justification.

  • They don’t equip you to ‘think through’ the value opportunities to maximize the identified value.
  • They don’t equip you to translate technical solutions into clearly understood business outcomes so the business understands the imperative to act.
  • They don’t equip you to identify the non-technical change activities required to ensure the delivered solution is a business success.

Why is this important? Poor business cases lead to:

  • Misfocused projects that solely deliver the technical solution and forego the available business benefits. Yet even the most technical of projects can deliver visible business improvements when they are identified.
  • Available benefits and project value being missed, left ‘on the table’ unidentified. This unidentified value is most unlikely to ever be realized. This missed value also makes the justification process more difficult.
  • Not all of the required workload and therefore the costs of delivery are identified leading to time and cost overruns that blow budgets and credibility out of the water.
  • Project ‘success’ being measured by project completion rather than the more valuable realization of clear, specified and measured business improvements.

Not a good start. And this is unnecessary. It is why we developed the Value Equation - to help you justify the unjustifiable.

The TOP Value Equation™ enables you to

  1. Make clear the desired business outcomes of even the most technical projects. These outcomes become the project’s primary business measure of success.
  2. Make the achievement (and any compromise) of these outcomes visible and measurable – you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, whether or not you have achieved it, and the business impacts of any compromises.
  3. Maximize the number and value of the benefits identified, increasing the value quantified and making justification easier.
  4. Identify the nature, size and scale of the change activities required to deliver the desired business outcomes – the basis for the cost-to-deliver computations.
  5. Produce a roadmap that shows the interdependencies of each outcome, its benefits and value so you can track and report the progressive delivery of the business results.

An case example:

Some years ago a major manufacturer sought to justify an urgent upgrade to it’s IT security processes after several viruses had stopped production, costing the organization millions. The IT department thought it was a “no brainer” and that, in view of the production losses incurred, the board would just sign-off. They were wrong – the board wanted a full business justification.

From a starting point of multiple, uncoordinated technical projects dealing with security issues with no identified benefits, using the TOP Value Equation approach the IT team together with some business users...

  1. Identified $5.6 million in bankable benefits ($0 had been identified before)
  2. Plus another 1.2 million in productivity benefits
  3. Identified a series of change activities essential for success that the technical plans had overlooked
  4. Integrated the disparate projects into a coherent program.
  5. Justified that the solution had to be adopted by all divisions worldwide in a highly federated and locally managed culture
  6. Attracted the global CFO to be the sponsor (where previously the IT manager had attempted to sponsor it).

On resubmission the project was immediately approved and subsequently seen as “one of our most successful projects” as the clarity of what was to be achieved ensured the results were fully delivered.

The TOP Value Equation approach took this hard to justify technical project and...

  • Focused on the benefits to the business
  • Integrated the IT security processes into the relevant business processes
  • Identified the non-technical change activities and workload to ensure the project actually deliver the desired business outcomes
  • Defined the solution in clear, specific, measurable business outcome terms that everyone in the business (including the worldwide General Managers) could understand and see as critical to the business.

The TOP Value Equation delivered clarity, specificity and results. It is a very simple solution to hard to justify project challenges. Find out more...


Topics: Value Equation

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Apr 2015) as "How To Justify The Unjustifiable And Hard To Justify Projects"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections