Project Management

Enough With the Benefits Realization Excuses

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 [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Why is this project being done? A pretty simple and straightforward question—and these days, one that most project managers, teams and stakeholders can answer, at least in general terms.

But try to get more specific, and things get a bit tougher. Tweak the question to ask how success will be determined, and there won’t be as many people able to answer—and the nature of the answers will likely vary. Why is that? How can you commit to work if you don’t know whether that work will deliver what you want?

The traditional approach doesn’t work
Let’s start by taking a step back and considering how most companies plan. Executives will establish the strategic priorities for the next period, and define the objectives that they expect to achieve. There may also be a handful of key enterprise initiatives approved by the executives to contribute to those objectives. For the development of all the other proposed projects, executives hand off to individual departments and business areas.

Department heads are asked to develop proposals for initiatives that they want to pursue, and highlight how those projects will contribute to the strategic objectives. To do that, the department heads, often in their own siloes, work with their teams to identify the priority items that they want to complete. These are often focused on the department rather than …

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- George Bernard Shaw