When companies embark upon transformations, change programmes or are even making the case for investment a key component of this is understanding what the benefits will be, i.e. why should this journey be embarked upon? What will be different and better at the other end?
Benefits management is essential as it not only describes what those benefits are and their impact on the business in a consistent way, but it also identifies the value streams that will deliver the components of that benefit. Critically, it also defines how a benefit will be measured and the baseline which it will be measured against, therefore avoiding subjective debate later down the line. In some cases this measurement may be fairly straight forward; spend of £x on initiative Y results in an efficiency of £y. However, when things start to get a little more subjective setting those parameters and how you will measure is essential. For example, spend of £x on initiative y results in a happier workforce. How do you measure that? Do you measure it already? Does everyone understand what that means?
The other critical element which needs careful thought is the timeframe over which the benefit will be yielded. This can become quite critical if there is a very little tolerance in the timelines and helps with resource management to potentially bolster a project or programme if it looks like it may be drifting and risk delivering the benefit it is supposed to be.
This leads nicely into the overarching benefits management strategy; how will the organisation manage their benefits and the initiatives delivering the outcomes that deliver those benefits. This is very important as it recognises the temporal dynamic of benefits management. By this I mean that the organisational context in which benefits will be delivered can change, very rapidly sometimes. Therefore, all benefits and the initiative outcomes that yield those benefits needs regular review to ensure they are still the right thing to be doing, will still achieve what was originally envisaged or even if the benefit is still relevant. This can sometimes be a challenging concept, especially if the project or programme delivering an outcome is being managed well. It is entirely possible for a project to be delivered well within its performance, time and cost envelope but, through contextual changes, now no longer deliver the right benefit. The critical aspect here is for the organisation to see this, understand and make a change. This way they still have a chance to deliver the benefit in an efficient way.
The final thought of benefits management to consider, again related to the temporal nature of the context in which outcomes are delivered is that an organisation may have a strategic benefit that doesn’t change. However, it needs to be recognised they may need to initiate projects or programmes to sustain that benefit overtime. An example would be air superiority for an air force; back in the 1940’s one of the key contributors to the RAF in gaining this was the Spitfire. Yet, had the RAF not continued to invest in this capability with new projects, it would still be pitting spitfire against much more advanced and sophisticated opponents. Yes, this is a simplified example but it reinforces the need for regular review of benefits as part of the management cycle of any organisation.
At Ntegra this is an fundamental part of our approach to delivering projects, we work closely with both business and technical stakeholders from across a project to ensure that whatever the final output is, it actually delivers the benefits the organisation needs.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can support your organisation.