We Don't Track Benefits…We're Government!

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

On a number of occasions when I run workshops on portfolio management and the importance of focusing on benefits rather than deliverables, I have someone come up to me and ask how that concept applies to government organizations. They argue that the focus must be on deliverables because concepts like profitability and revenue don’t apply to them.

I understand their perspective, and I agree that profitability (perhaps not revenue) isn’t relevant, but I don’t agree with the underlying premise. I think there are many ways that public sector project managers can concentrate on benefits—it’s just a different set of metrics.

If we forget about public versus private sector for a moment, the premise that projects are undertaken to deliver results rather than just outputs should be clear. Success will be measured differently in different types of organizations (or even in different departments), but it is still the success that matters.

Consider the simple example of a server replacement project within IT. The purpose of the project is not simply to get a shiny new box in a rack in the server room—it’s to increase capacity, improve performance, increase reliability, etc. Those measures are just as important in government as in corporations—and are the driving force behind why the project is undertaken.

Where things get a little…

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