Maximizing Project Benefits By Denise DeCarlo, PMP, MSP

Business benefits realization is starting to (finally) gain some traction in the project and program management space.  Business benefits may not be the responsibility of the project manager, but the project manager can and should position the sponsor for success by providing several deliverables to assist with business benefits planning, measurement and reporting.

Let’s start with some of the key artifacts that the project manager can produce.  The three essential documents are the:

  • Business Benefits Map (BBM)
  • Business Benefits Realization Plan (BBRP)
  • Business Benefits Register (BBR)

The purpose of the Business Benefits Map is to visually record on a single sheet the value (benefits) the project will bring.  Ideally the business benefits should already be recorded in the Project Initiation document or some other similar document.  However, if the information doesn’t exist, now is the time to create it!  In addition to the business benefits, the other key elements to this diagram include the Enablers (what needs to happen to enable to benefits to take effect?), Business Changes (what needs to change in the business to enable the benefit to take effect?), Outputs (what are the tangible Outputs as a result of the project?), and Outcomes (what are the expected results).

The BBM should also document how the project business benefits align with the company or agency Strategic Goals.  This diagram is great at communicating the expected benefits of the project to a variety of project stakeholders.   It’s a great reminder of what the project is all about.

It’s important that a project does not have too many benefits.  Keep in mind that each benefit will need to be measured and reported.   If you have too many benefits, it’s likely they will not be measured since the work to monitor the benefit metrics will be too time consuming.  A recommended range is 4-8 benefits per project.

Ideally the BBM would be created after the project benefits have been documented and agreed, and before the design of the product has been completed.  If you try to complete the BBM too soon you likely won’t have enough information to populate the diagram.  Key personnel to involve in the creation of the document are the project architect, business analyst, and key business representatives.  Like any other deliverable, this document should be reviewed and signed off by your sponsor or project board.

The Business Benefits Realization Plan (BBRP) is the document that explains HOW the business benefits are going to be realized.  Common items to include in the Business Benefits Realization Plan are:  Purpose of the BBRP, organizational context (how the project ties in to the organization), how to plan for benefits measurement, potential adverse impacts (disbenefits) to be mitigated, assumptions, risks, enabling changes, business benefits governance approach, roles and responsibilities, monitoring processes, performance measurement matrix descriptions, and post project benefit activities.

A key component the BBRP is the Performance Measurement matrix.  This chart will not be easy to create as it describes exactly how the benefit will be measured, by whom and how often.  If you can’t complete the matrix it means the benefits are likely too high level and they need to be re-written to be more specific and measurable.  It is acceptable to have project benefits that are non-tangible; however, you will not be able to include them in the matrix for measurement purposes.

The BBRP can be developed and finalized during the later phases of the project (for instance during the Testing Phase).  For projects that are implementing capability throughout the project (such as Agile) then the BBRP needs to be completed prior to the first set of features being implemented (assuming these feature contribute to business benefits).  It will likely take you a while to establish the baseline benefit measurements so you’ll want to plan for this activity, as it can be time consuming.  You’ll want to have the baseline measurements completed prior to project implementation.

And lastly, you’ll need to have a register in place to record the measurement results and to report the progress of a given benefit.  Benefits are typically measured monthly, quarterly or annually.  The business sponsor (or whoever is the owner of the Benefits measurement process) should report the results at least two times a year to senior management that are impacted by the benefits.  If benefits are not being realized as expected, this provides an opportunity for analysis to be completed to understand why the benefit is not being realized and for adjustments to be applied via operational changes, improved training and/or changes to the product itself.

To get the real value out of the projects we deliver, we need to measure and report on the planned benefits.   Measuring the benefits keeps the focus on what is important to the business.   By planning for how the benefits will be agreed, measured and monitored, you can provide the tools necessary for the benefits of the project to be maximized.

 

To obtain a copy of the templates discussed in this article, please email info@mindavation.com.  If you want to kick-start your business benefits maturity in your organization, Mindavation has consultants available to deliver services specific to business benefits measurement and reporting.

 Denise DeCarlo is a Founder and Director of MINDAVATION, a company providing project management training and consulting, coaching services and keynotes throughout Australia, North America and Europe.  Denise can be reached at MINDAVATION via the web at WWW.MINDAVATION.COM or at info@mindavation.com

 

 

The Mindavation Foundation is proud to donate 5% of profits towards development of youth leaders.
Copyright © 2011 Mindavation - All rights reserved.