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Important notice

The NZ Transport Agency is implementing business case process improvements. The changes are designed to improve the clarity and consistency of our investment decision-making, and to reduce the time and costs taken to make decisions and deliver outcomes.

From 30 April 2019, the Transport Agency will introduce new Point of Entry (PoE) guidance to ensure future and in-progress business cases are ‘right-sized’ to local context and risks.

The contents of this page have been updated with the new guidance and expectations the Transport Agency has regarding the investment decision-making process and the decision maker around developing a new business case. Further updates will be made over the next few months.

What is the purpose of point of entry?

The purpose of a point of entry (PoE) phase is to discuss and reach agreement on how the business case approach will be applied. It allows problem owners and the Transport Agency to:

  • Develop an initial view of whether a potential investment is well aligned to strategic priorities, and whether it is an appropriate time to develop a business case.
  • Understand the issues well enough to be able to make informed decisions about how to progress.

The PoE phase ensures there is prioritising of business case work to match resources and work programmes. Considering the context and scale of the problem/opportunity and identifying relevant work that has already been done will minimise the risk of double-up of effort.

The PoE phase is meant to be a brief exercise using the minimum appropriate resource. The main focus is on discussion, fact-finding and critical thinking.

It is critical to record the outcome of a PoE phase, including any recommendations, so it can be clearly communicated to decision makers and stakeholders. There is a template to help with capturing all the information the Transport Agency needs to decide whether to endorse a PoE.

The PoE template should also be revisited before starting each new phase of a business case and revised or updated as necessary.

Starting the conversation

The reason for starting a PoE is often in response to the environment. For example:

  • something new is identified through monitoring, customer feedback or another source 
  • a council or other stakeholder identifies a Level of Service (LOS) isn’t being achieved, or an existing activity isn’t delivering value for money
  • a review of documents, such as Activity Management Plans (AMPs), reveals an investment might be required
  • a need for investment is indicated in a national, regional or local strategic plan or policy.

Exploring the issue may be as simple as a single conversation between likely problem owners, or if it’s a more complex issue, it may involve discussions with investors and stakeholders who have been identified for early engagement.

Start talking with a Transport Agency investment advisor at an early stage to get advice and agree the PoE recommendation with them.

information

A note about problems and opportunities…

Problems and opportunities can be thought of as opposite sides of the same coin; problems can help to identify opportunities, and describing an opportunity is a great way of showing what an investment could deliver.

Asking the right questions

When considering the issue further, in consultation with the appropriate stakeholders, it is important to:

  • Approach the issue openly, rather than with an output or solution in mind. Make a genuine enquiry, and keep asking the question, ‘Do we continue?’. If so, ask, ‘Where do we start?
  • Has there already been work done that answers the questions required in a strategic case or programme business case? If so, what gaps are there, and how will they be filled?
  • Think about colleagues and stakeholders who may have established relationships or existing knowledge of the problem. Can you leverage off these?
  • Test any assumptions about the potential problem/opportunity that may have been made beforehand. Is there supporting evidence? Check facts versus ‘accepted wisdom’ that may have evolved over time.
  • Do you understand the rationale for why you are proceeding through the Business Case Approach (BCA)?

Developing your understanding

information

Applying critical thinking and the BCA principles and behaviours is an important part of determining the point of entry. They must be used to develop your understanding about the potential investment.

Read an information sheet about critical thinking in the BCA [PDF, 56 KB]
Find out more about the BCA principles and behaviours

  • Focus on understanding the potential problem/opportunity. Think about how you would build it into a strategic case, if that was the next step.
  • Review any existing documents or related work, including records of discussions with or about stakeholders. Do they address some of the information requirements for earlier stages of a business case, or are you starting with a blank sheet?
  • Start outlining the potential problem/opportunity that has triggered the PoE phase, and how responding to it meets the direction and/or priorities of your organisation.
  • Don’t assume an investment must happen – your initial assessment may indicate that the potential problem/opportunity doesn’t warrant further investigation at this time.
  • Consider the risk and complexity of the potential problem/opportunity, and the possible outcomes, in terms of fit-for-purpose effort required.
  • If it looks likely that a strategic case is the next step, think about using investment logic mapping (ILM), which puts the emphasis on having a clear understanding of the problem/opportunity, its consequences and the desired benefits before looking at possible solutions.

Find out more about investment logic mapping

Your recommendation

Make a clear recommendation based on your view of what the fit-for-purpose effort would be. This could mean recommending:

  • do nothing - no further action
  • no further action for now, but monitor with the possibility of inclusion in future planning 
  • start developing a business case, at the appropriate phase.

If your recommendation is to start at a later phase than the Strategic Case, the record of PoE needs to show how the relevant investment decision questions have been answered.

Find out more about the investment questions
Read more about the business case phases

Planning the subsequent investment development pathway

If a business case is the next step, it is important to consider the remaining business case phases through to implementation. This will provide decision makers with clarity regarding the timeframes and resources that will likely be needed.

The pathway needs to be consistent with the level of existing information, and the risk and complexity of the investment. Further advice on assessing risk and complexity, and finding the appropriate investment development pathway for a business case, can be found here:

Completing the record of the point of entry

The purpose of recording the PoE is to provide a high-level description of the problem/opportunity and likely outcomes, and a recommendation about where the business case should formally start, if at all.

Having a documented record also means you can explain your thinking later on.

  • Keep in mind the BCA principles when describing the potential problem/opportunity and possible outcomes:
    • Use simple concepts and plain language so that the driver of the potential investment is clear.
    • Show that the level of effort/cost required to develop a business case is appropriate to the complexity and risk of the potential problem/opportunity, and the likely scale of the potential investment.
  • Express the potential problem and possible outcomes clearly, using as few words as possible - a maximum of 300 words.
  • Outline how the proposed investment aligns with strategic direction, including local, regional and national strategies.
  • Include details about any previous work, including council plans or strategies that answer the questions required at each phase.

It is important to also record information that the Transport Agency needs to make a decision regarding endorsement of the PoE. The record of PoE template has been developed to capture the appropriate information and we've produced a guide on what a good PoE includes:

Finalising the record

  • You should agree your recommendations with your NZ Transport Agency representative before finalising the record.
  • You also need your organisation’s sign-off, as continuing beyond the PoE means committing time and resources.
  • Make sure the record is filed where it can be easily retrieved for future reference, especially if the recommendation at this stage is to do nothing. It may save time later if a same or similar problem arises.
  • Once endorsed, PoE records should be uploaded to Transport Investment Online (TIO) as supporting documents for the phases to which they apply.

Access TIO(external link)

What happens next?

Your organisation decides whether to advance to the business case process based on the recommendation you have agreed, and the PoE is signed off by the business owner.

Read the ‘Point of entry: relationship management’ information sheet  [PDF, 72 KB]

Read more about engagement and relationship management

Funding the point of entry phase

The PoE phase is funded by the problem owner’s organisation.

Outputs

Completed record of the point of entry, agreed with the Transport Agency.

Tools and templates

Template

Learning modules

There are online learning modules available to our partner organisations. To request access to the modules, email nltp@nzta.govt.nz with your name, title, organisation and manager’s name.

The point of entry course includes:

  • Point of entry essentials
  • Introducing the point of entry
  • Make it real

Go to the point of entry learning modules(external link)

You will be prompted to enter your login if you click the link above. Once you have logged in, you should be taken directly to the course. You can also find it by going to the catalogue and searching for ‘point of entry’.

Information sheets

Need support?

It is important to talk to the Transport Agency at an early stage. Contact either your Transport Agency representative, or e-mail the Strategy, Policy and Planning team direct at pointofentry@nzta.govt.nz

 

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