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In my work with project professionals, we often talk about business cases. How do we justify spending money on a particular project or not? Often people think exclusively about the financial return of a project, but some of the most important areas are not quantifiable.

For example, a key area of a business case is what will happen if the project isn’t done. This can be quite a scary prospect: a supporting system going out of support, board members liable to prosecution, loss of market share or worse.

Another area to consider is that of intangibles. Things like reputation going up. You can’t put exact figures on this but it could transform your business results!

Here’s a wheel life example (pun intended):

Farewll red car.jpg

I’ve just driven my old car to the scrappers. I’m buying my first ever brand new car. Does this make economic sense? Probably not. After all, I’ve always bought cars at two years old, usually saving myself half the purchase price of a new car. So why the change?

Well, there is a government scrappage scheme. My 14 year old car is worth a discount of £2000 on a new, more efficient smaller car. In top of this, my carbon emissions will go down. And, if I’m completely honest, it might feel rather good to drive around in a car with brand new number plates. I don’t know as I’ve never done it before!

On the other hand, this car is the one that has served us well for twelve years. I brought both of my newborn babies home in it. It’s been as comfortable to drive at fourteen years old as it was at two. (Yes, it’s a Toyota and those two are the newborn babies today!)

What made me decide to act? The end of the scrappage scheme is coming up. Cialdini’s principle of people wanting things when they are limited kicked in. It’s why we tend to want to go to the restaurant that is always full to overflowing rather than the empty one next door. Oh, on top of that, the freezing weather caused a leak, so it’s no longer quite as comfortable inside.

There is one car that I wouldn’t scrap. I also have a classic Mini. It’s not really practical for a family of four but, whenever I drive it, I get let out at junctions and people wave and flash their lights. It’s top of the range, with a walnut dash, and belonged to my grandmother and mother before me. It’s such a memorable car that when I twittered about scrapping a car, an American ex-colleague who I haven’t seen for years sent me a note saying that he hoped it wasn’t the mini! Now I’m looking for someone who would love it as much as I do, but who doesn’t need to transport a 6 foot tall husband and two growing children around too. Is that you?

Let me know what you think about business cases, emotions and old cars in the comments box below.




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