I really liked what Carlos Serra had to say at last month’s PMI Global Congress EMEA about managing the project management benefits processes and I have a few more titbits from his presentation to share with you today.
One of the things I find the hardest about project management methods is that often they specify what to do without actually giving you practical steps for how to do it. Stakeholder management falls into that category (and is one of the reasons I wrote my book, Customer-Centric Project Management). Benefits management is another. I think benefits management is so hard to codify because project managers don’t really know if it falls to them or the senior managers or operational teams or someone else, so it disappears through the cracks and isn’t given the attention it deserves.
Hopefully these bits of advice will help address that.
Tools for benefits realisation management
What practical tools have you got at your disposal for benefits realisation and managing those processes? Carlos discussed several:
- Benefits maps (Showing linked benefits, and maybe you could link this back to the task that delivers the output as well?)
- Dependency networks (I’m not actually sure what this is in the context of benefits – something to do with how projects or benefits link to each other? If you have a better understanding, let us know in the comments section at the bottom)
- Benefits profile or identity sheet (This describes each benefit and documents the way you will measure it, how much it should deliver in terms of monetary value, covers KPIs and so on. As we have work package documents or WBS descriptions, this is the equivalent for benefits)
- Business case (Doh! Of course this is the most relevant way of a project management working out what the planned benefits should be. It’s also influential when it comes to how the project is judged at the end and whether it is deemed a success, so you should definitely use this as the basis for establishing benefits)
- Benefits realisation plan (assigns a timeframe to each of the benefits)
- Benefits control sheets (I guess this is a way of tracking benefits when they occur and establishing whether they are in acceptable limits. I studied process control as part of Six Sigma and this smacks of something similar)
- Portfolio dashboard (So you can see everything on a single screen, although you have to set it up with the right measures first)
- IT systems (Carlos suggested a few that are specifically designed to help you measure benefits and to support the process. Personally I haven’t used any software tools that work in this way but it is good to know that if you are in a highly systemised environment and want software to help, the tools are out there)
- Health checks (A way of auditing your benefits and the processes as the project progresses)
Roles and responsibilities for benefits realisation management
Carlos covered the roles and responsibilities expected from a benefits realisation exercise within a company.
If you want to implement successful benefits realisation management in your own business then this is what you should look to get set up:
Programme and project governance
This covers the normal governance functions of any project management activity including having the work aligned to overall strategy. You should also make sure that you have the work prioritised and that there is executive leadership in place to support you.
Done by: Project Sponsor
Programme and project management
Here you’re looking to be able to deliver the required outputs, ensure everyone knows what success looks like and manage stakeholders’ expectations with that in mind.
Done by: Project Manager/Team
Finally, you want someone to take responsibility for owning the benefits when they are delivered. They are the people who receive the outputs and whisk up their magic to turn outputs into tangible business value.
Done by: Project customer
All this strikes me as vastly similar to the rest of the project management techniques that we have available to us. That’s good news, because it means that benefits management is not difficult or scary and that project managers have the transferable skills to be able to put all this into practice already.
The presentation reassured me that much of what I am doing to ensure my projects deliver tangible benefits is good and solid practice. The theme of value ran throughout the Congress and it’s great to see that (finally) project managers are waking up to the idea that delivering value is not something that someone else does.