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Business Drivers: the Root Cause for Project Development

Mary Lewinson
December 2, 2013

Project management is a pragmatic process which involves efficient decision making. This means any right decision on whether to make a change to an existing business environment is made considering if there’s a sound reason for that change. Decision makers carefully investigate current conditions, identify problems and analyze business needs in order to find a rational explanation for project development. They try to answer the question, “Why do we need to develop this project?”, or “What’s the root reason for the change we want to make?”

What is a Business Driver in Project Management?

Business drivers are the crucial forces behind the successful development of a project. As a result of these forces, you can clearly identify the problems to be solved, analyze the needs to be satisfied and determine possible solutions to be implemented by your project. You then define the business case for sustainable project development.

A business driver is the root cause or the rationale for developing a new project. It explains why the project is needed and what expected solution the project will deliver upon its successful completion. It also provides any necessary background information about the business problems to be solved or addressed.

How to Identify Business Drivers

Right business drivers are vital for the continued success and growth of your projects. You must identify each one and then maximize any that are under your control.

The secret is to find and focus on a set of business drivers that are:

  • Relevant to the performance and objectives of your business
  • Specific and measurable

The business drivers you choose should help you move towards your business objectives.

For example, if your objective is customer satisfaction, then the business drivers will be delivery lead time, customer service, easiness in how customers place their orders, etc. By considering these drivers you can run a project that aims to improve the way your current customer management system works.

And If you want to increase your revenue, then look at factors impacting lead generation, pricing, product mix. A marketing campaign will be a kind of project targeted at these drivers.

Project Background Document

After business drivers are identified and defined, they need to be clearly described in business terms and then documented. Usually a document called “Project Background” is used for that purpose.

Project Background formally documents the following key points:

  • A summary of existing business problems that need to solved or addressed by the project
  • Facts, figures and other relevant background information that describes the problems and the need to solve each one
  • An explanation of how the project will solve or help solve the problems in terms familiar to your business
  • Any links to business objectives, policies and principles.

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