Schedules, budgets and the allocation of resources – these are all critical aspects of project management, but successful practitioners don’t stop there. They look beyond the obvious tasks to benefits management, so they can capitalise on positive outcomes and add value to the company.
What exactly is benefits management?
Simply put, Benefits Management is about optimising returns from change initiatives that deliver on strategic objectives, while recognising organisational constraints (cost/resources/priorities) and balancing risk over time.
In this article, we outline how to approach benefits management and why it’s critical to project success.
What is the Benefits Management Lifecycle?
Business success is contagious; when your company experiences a win, momentum leads to continuous improvement. The benefits management lifecycle outlines and solidifies forward movement. As soon as one benefit is realised, your company moves on to seeking the next measurable benefit.
Consider this Benefits Management Framework that businesses can adopt to optimise their project investments. Let’s go through each step in the benefits management lifecycle as described in this framework.
1. Identify and Quantify
The first step in the benefits management lifecycle is to identify the projects that will change your business for the better. Involve stakeholders in these discussions, and make sure the benefits align with your strategic objectives. Consider developing benefits maps to identify and analyse relationships between benefits.
2. Value and Appraise
In this pre-planning step, you’ll produce a business case outline and establish baseline measurements, which will help you to set realistic project targets. This is also the time to analyse stakeholder interests and concerns, so they’re well-understood.
In this step, you’ll describe benefits and relate them to the changes you aim to make. Your team will build accountability into the plan by establishing responsibility for benefits realisation. Your project will be most effective when you categorise and structure benefits in terms of the types of desired changes. How will you know you’ve succeeded? You’ll need to set metrics that signal success.
With all of your preparation work behind you, you’re ready to execute the plan. This is the exciting part. But don’t let action swallow up reflection. Diligently track, monitor and report your progress, and optimise changes as you go for maximum benefits realisation. Don’t think you have to wait to start evaluating. If you consider progress as you progress, you’ll have the tools and information to make adjustments.
5. Review Results
When you’ve reached critical benchmarks, review your results. Identify additional benefits that you may not have anticipated, and identify possible benefits you could achieve from further investment in the future.
Produce an initiative level, post-investment report that details the realisation of your outlined benefits. Include actual-versus-forecasted results and a business case review. It’s also helpful to analyse the effectiveness of selected measures and lessons learned along the way.
With your report in hand, it’s easy to assess your organisation’s benefits management capability development. At this point, make a concerted effort to improve your benefits management process. With a comprehensive review, you’ll be in an excellent position to identify and quantify new projects that will build on the benefits you’ve already realised. You’re ready to begin the cycle again, but this time, you’re in a stronger position and have more data to help you along.
Use your post-investment report to create an organisational-level document that lays out the policy, methods, approach and other critical information for benefits management. Also, touch on benefits identification schema, mapping techniques, roles and responsibilities, benefits definitions and processes.
How Does the Benefits Management Lifecycle Fit into Broader Benefits Management Practices?
When you introduce the benefits management lifecycle into your ongoing business planning, you open up your organisation to transformational change. An open and honest discussion about benefits and solutions can and should be accommodated at all levels of your organisation.
The benefits management lifecycle isn’t just a tool for individual managers; all stakeholders have a role to play in achieving change outcomes that will keep your organisation competitive and customer-oriented.
Why is Benefits Management Crucial to Project Success?
Without an eye to benefits management, your projects can easily take on a life of their own. Instead of aligning projects with the company’s mission and goals, projects can veer away from key goals and competencies, ultimately leading to squandered resources and missed opportunities.
How might the implementation of benefits management improve your organisation? For forward movement on-demand, get in touch with us at MetaPM.