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Benefit Realisation and Management Overview

Updated: Sep 9, 2023


benefit-realisation

Benefits should be an important topic in project management. At the end of the day, we are implementing change through project management and we want this to be as successful as it possibly can and benefits to be seen. However, benefits can often be listed at the start of the project and then forgotten and not monitored throughout.


In this post we will look at what benefit realisation and management is and how to conduct this for your next project.


What is benefit realisation and management?

So first of all lets look at the definition of the two, realisation and management, as stated by the APM (Association of Project Management).


Benefits management is the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of benefits.

Benefits realisation is the practice of ensuring that benefits are derived from outputs and outcomes.


Having a clear understanding of the benefits should help to drive the business case forward and enable the project to start. As the project commences its key to monitor these benefits to help give the project direction and to assist decision making. As the project comes to an end we should be able to successfully deliver on the benefits set out and see a positive change.


Benefit management process

During the benefit management stage you should be looking to identify the what, how, when and who of all benefits. Its useful to bring together a working group to develop this plan and seek input from all sides.


For example, if you are delivering a piece of software the supplier will know of benefits from other implementations so would be useful to include. The users within your business who may interact with the software on a daily basis will be an obvious choice. Someone who has business vision and can see how the software will assist the company values and goals. The end users, possibly customers, should at least be able to give their opinion whether this is via a workshop or some other form such as a survey.


As you are collating this information from different people in the group its useful to add it into a spreadsheet under the headers – what, how, when, who, status.

  • What – this will define the benefit category (such as money saved), expected benefit (description of the benefit), and the type (quantitative or qualitative)

  • How – how you will measure the benefit and the method taken (measure may be website visits and method Google Analytics)

  • When – when will you be able to measure the benefit pre or post go live?

  • Who – who is the owner of the benefit to ensure it is managed and realised

  • Status – for ongoing monitor of each benefit


project-benefits



Benefit management lifecycle

The APM have defined a benefit management lifecycle in 6 steps, to see the full diagram click here. Lets delve into those stages in more detail:

  1. Identify and quantify – at this first stage the benefits should be identified with the stakeholders involved in the project. They should be aligned to strategic objectives of the project and mapped out to show the relationship between each benefit.

  2. Value and appraisal – a measurement for each benefit should be identified and a realistic targets agreed. Stakeholder involvement should show their interests and concerns and set benchmarks.

  3. Plan – responsibilities should be established for the benefits, they should be categorised and structure created in term of the change needed. Reporting procedures should be set out and creation of a benefit document. This will then give visibility to the wider stakeholders.

  4. Realise – this is when the benefits starts to come to light, this can be pre or post go live. They should be monitored and reported on to maximise benefit realisation.

  5. Review results – a benefits dashboard will enable you to see how the benefit is progressing, identify additional benefits at this stage and possible areas for further investment.

  6. Review – Assess the benefits through the lifecycle and any areas for further improvement on future projects.


Who is responsible for benefit realisation?

The whole project team are ultimately involved and responsible for the benefit realisation of a project. However, you will see (mainly in larger companies) a dedicated benefit realisation manager. This person will work with the project team from the beginning of the project and continue after the project closure to full evaluate, define and realise the benefits of a project.


When this role is not available it often falls down to the project manager to conduct the piece of work and the project sponsor to oversee and guide. Project managers are primarily responsible for delivery results of a project – meeting a deadline, working within a fixed budget and delivering on a set scope.


If the project manager takes on this role this does mean they will continue working on the project after it has been closed to ensure the full benefits are realised. You typically wont see the benefits of a project until it has moved into BAU and new processes adapted.


Benefit realisation should be built within the culture of a business to really see the success. This culture will be value driven and understand the business objectives and aims. Having this culture and knowledge allows all staff to drive the business forward and push for success.


Why is benefit realisation important?

A project is generally undertaken to deliver a strategic aim or adapt to change. A strong focus can be placed on the piece of work and delivery which can result in the benefits not being tracked or realised.


By identifying, planning and realising the benefits of a project you are able to clearly identify the change it has brought about and state the benefits that project has delivered. Whether this if through quantitative data such as cost saving or qualitative such as improved customer feedback.


Summary

Change is a constant in business and the benefits in change need to be identified and managed, so they are realised. Those who fail to embrace change will miss the benefits and fall behind their competitors.


During your projects its key to identify and manage benefits and align these to the business goals. Clear tracking and monitoring should be setup so all stakeholders involved in the project are aware of the benefits, their progress and outcome.


Here is a free download to a benefit plan template.


Benefit template
.xlsx
Download XLSX • 23KB


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