Categories: benefits realization
We’ve written extensively about the connection between an organization’s high-level mission/vision/values and its low-level operations. Our books discuss how that key connection between the organization’s resulting strategy and its operations, and the fact that it is us – project, program, and portfolio managers - who make up the single and critical connecting fiber between these. We assert that projects (and project managers) are “where the rubber hits the road”. A good project manager can almost see the skid marks and smell the burning rubber. You can find out much more about this metaphor in our books or in this video.
It’s now been about six years since we’ve been making these points and it’s great to see that the evidence which support our early (and continued) assertions is piling up. One recent example is PMI’s Pulse of the Profession study, a 2016 edition of which, is entitled, “The Strategic Impact of Projects: Identify Benefits to Drive Business Results”. This study surveyed almost 1200 project management practitioners.
The report is well laid-out and illustrated, so we won’t duplicate it here, after all, it’s available for free download thanks to PMI. What we do want to do in this brief post is to highlight a couple of findings that continue to illustrate the connection between sustainability and project management.
Let’s start with the end game here. Projects are about realizing benefits, right? And indeed, organizations with high maturity in benefits realization – in other words, those organizations in which the project manager is focused NOT on meeting a particular end date for a particular set of features and functionality but rather on serving the mission of the company, well, those organizations waste more than 2/3 less money on poor performance than those with low maturity in this area.
Think about that. This statistic says that if an organization puts effort into up-skilling its project managers so that they focus on the long term and connect their project’s goals with the organization’s goals (many of which include Corporate Social Responsibility metrics), a direct result is that they will be significantly more effective ECONOMICALLY.
Yet, the next statistic is chilling. 83% of organizations lack this maturity in benefits realization. This is why we continue to push for a better connection between project management and benefits realization, and a big part of that is getting your project management community to recognize their own power, their importance, and their absolute need to think past the end date of their project and into that not-too-distant-future beyond handover and into operations.
And guess what? Of course it’s about the money – and those two statistics show the monetary outcomes we’re featuring. But it goes beyond money – it goes to overall results, which reflect the real success of the sustainable economics of a firm. Here’s another statistic:
For projects which identify benefits early – which we interpret as figuring out how their project fits holistically in the organization, the society, and the environment, nearly three quarters of projects meet goals and business intent (in other words, real success). For those projects in which organizations do NOT identify the benefits early, well their real success rate drops to under 50%.
That’s a striking difference, and it’s a difference with a lesson. Identify the benefits early in your projects! Connect them to overall organizational goals.
PMI provides good advice in this document, we share one tip here – what are the questions and activities related to benefits realization that you can use in your organization to gain maturity in this area? See the chart below.
One other tip from us: from a triple-bottom-line perspective, you can’t see how your project is connected to the organization’s sustainability statements (and, more importantly strategic goals and objectives in this area) unless you look for what your organization is stating to the public and its customers about this. This is your ‘golden thread’ to enterprise level 'ideation'. To do this, you can take the three-click challenge we blogged about a while ago. This is our connection to Dorothy and her advice from Glinda, the Good Witch - and of course, the famous footwear. Can you get to your organization’s sustainability statements in just three clicks? And, no matter how many clicks it takes, you still win – because now you have one of the connections to benefits realization you didn’t have before the challenge!