Benefits Management. Why It Matters And How We Can Help.

This post is a short intro to our next APAC #PMChat on 14th August 2017 (10.00PM US Eastern) / 15th August 2017 (12.00PM Australia (Sydney, no rx Melbourne), approved where we will be talking about Project Benefits Management – why it matters, why we often get it wrong and what we can do to improve our benefit outcomes (details and Questions are below)

Why Benefits Management Matters

Benefits are the foundation reason for every project that we undertake.  If there are no benefits, then there is no reason for starting or continuing a project.

When we break down “benefits”, we end up thinking about using the organisation’s resources more effectively to get the best possible return on investment.  This generally means either maintaining or increasing profitability, maintaining or reducing operating costs, maintaining or reducing the amount of capital tied up in the business or providing a low cost, high value solution to an externally imposed constraint (i.e. legal or regulatory requirement).

But here’s the catch.

So often, organisations start out with a view of their strategic drivers and business needs, yet over time the outcome of change initiatives becomes separated from those business needs.

The solution often doesn’t meet the original need, and the business does not get the expected return on investment.

How Project Management Can Help

As Project Managers, we can add real value here.

Our role is to maintain that linkage; we need to understand the business needs and drivers, and tie project outputs specifically to them.  We need to tie every project output back to the Business Case, providing a direct link between deliverables and tangible benefits.

With that in mind, when we think about Benefits Management two big hurdles jump out at us:

  1. Who is responsible for the benefit estimates?

Our challenge is to understand who owns the benefit estimates and also, who is responsible for delivering the business outcomes.  Are they the same person or are they two different people? This is where the Project Sponsor has such an important role – he or she is the person who requires the stated benefits to meet a particular need, in pursuit of a strategic goal or objective.

  1. How do we measure a project’s success when benefits are realised downstream?

When we think about project success, we inevitably think about timing and measurement of business benefits.

Will the benefits be realised during the lifespan of the project, or will additional time be needed post-Project closure?  How do we measure project success in those situations?

It’s worth reminding ourselves that our projects do not produce benefits, but rather they produce deliverables that the business can then use to change the way it operates, and improve those cost/efficiency drivers.

Should project success be measured in terms of benefits realised, or on the basis of putting in place the framework from which the business can then drive benefits?

#PMChat Questions

We’ll open up with two contextual questions, to break the ice and set the scene.

Q1. When defining successful Project/Programme delivery, do you include Benefits as a measure of success? #PMChat

Q2.  As a PM, how do you help shape a successful Benefits Management outcome? How do you add value? #PMChat

We’ll then talk about benefits ownership – who defines benefits, who is responsible for owning them, and should these be the same people/person?

Q3. In your experience, who is responsible for defining Project benefits? #PMChat

Q4. Business Cases.  In your organisation, does anyone read them?  Do they live & breathe, or are they “set and forget”? #PMChat

Q5. Benefits Ownership.  Should the person who owns the Business Case outcome also define the Project Benefits?  #PMChat

Finally, we will think about the broader picture – how we can improve our benefits management practice.

Q6.  Benefits are often realised later, after the Project has closed.  How does this shape your PM approach to Benefits Management?  #PMChat

Q7. What do you see as the most urgent area we need to focus on to improve the way we manage Project Benefits? #PMChat

Here’s What Happened Next

We had a terrific chat, with some great ideas thrown around.  Please check out the Storify story.


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