“The meaning of benefit is something that produces good or helpful results or effects or that promotes well-being” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). So, how do you ensure benefits realisation for your project?
There are lots of formal and precise definitions of project benefits available from different project management methodologies, but common to most of these is the idea that it is helpful to identify the consequences of project work that stakeholders consider to be positive, or of value to an organisation.
For project benefits to happen we need to deliver both the outputs anticipated in the delivery as well as any necessary changes to ways of working. That is why change management is so important in benefits management and why change management effort typically continues well beyond the end of a project in order to ensure that changes stick. It often takes some time to see whether benefits materialise in practice.
Let’s consider a project to deliver a web portal…
The project team might disband when the new portal is up and running, and all impacted groups are successfully trained. At this point the project outputs of portal and training are in place. But it’s likely that the expected benefits will only materialise when all impacted groups start to use the portal routinely (the desired outcome), and any corresponding calls to a contact centre are reduced. At that point efficiencies start landing for the organisation. People are absolutely key to making changes happen and making changes stick can take much longer than the project delivery itself.
It is not only projects and programmes that are informed by benefits. Portfolios use benefits analysis in several ways – they look at the relative benefits provided by different projects or programmes, and check how they align with the priorities of the organisation. Portfolios ensure the organisation is getting the most ‘bang for its buck’ and that available investment and scarce resources are being used for the things that will make the greatest positive impact. They also use benefits as one of many tools to help ‘balance’ the portfolio of work and make sure that one priority is not being addressed to the disadvantage of another.
As always, we’d love to help you think through how you think this could help you and your projects. Our team of consultants are happy to chat, no strings attached. Contact us.