Getachew Melsew

Presentation: Business Case Evaluation Process Improvement: DC Water Case Study

Abstract: One of the core functions of DC water is planning and implementing the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) using asset management principles. DC Water has developed an approach to meet emerging opportunities by creating a Business Case Evaluation (BCE) process, which has become a standard since 2016. The process uses the NPV as the financial metric of choice from various others enumerated in the PMBOK. And it is tailored to DC Water by applying additional non-monetary criteria linked to the Authority’s strategy and the delivery of business results.

The DC Water Guidance Manual captures the BCE process, which details the concepts and procedures involved in performing a BCE and how they apply to DC Water. A VBA “BCE Tool” accompanies the Guidance Manual which is used to document critical information and perform analysis to identify the best alternative for a respective opportunity or need.

While a full-fledged BCE process is the recommended approach to identify the best alternative, applying it to hundreds of projects in the DC Water multi-billion-dollar Capital Improvement Program is not feasible. Thus, the need to develop a screening tool to qualify projects for full-fledged BCE is apparent. Because of this need, the authors find it necessary to conduct cross-departmental collaboration to develop a custom tool that selects projects for BCE treatment. The Agile Project Management approach is used in a Citizen Development context to create a simple, user-friendly tool that implements a multi-level iterative screening process. Workshops were held in 2021 and 2022 to familiarize staff with the standard BCE process and the improvements. Generally, the tool found acceptance by project managers who also testify that it contributes to business process improvement.

The paper discusses the background and relevance of the BCE process, which enables DC Water to address CIP opportunities and needs efficiently. Part of the discussion will be how BCE helps identify optimal solutions by uniformly quantifying and comparing the monetary and non-monetary values among the available options. It will also share insights from the business process improvement realized by the custom tool and the lessons learned through the collaborative effort.

PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic and Business Management (Business Acumen)

Biography: Mr. Melsew is a senior manager of Planning in the Department of Engineering and Technical Services (DETS) in DC Water. He is a licensed professional engineer with over thirty years of experience in the water sector. He is licensed to practice in Washington DC, Maryland, and California. He is also a PMI-certified Program Management Professional with decades of experience in the planning, design, and construction of projects in Capital Improvement Programs.