Most organisations nowadays are looking to maximise their investment in change initiatives. The area of focus is moving from successful delivery to the achieving benefits. From a business perspective – yes it is good to deliver projects and programs successfully but how can we demonstrate this?
The focus on benefits is something that can be seen throughout the Best Practice frameworks. At project, programme and portfolio level there is a significant focus on benefits in the three frameworks, namely PRINCE2®, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) and Management of Portfolios (MoP®). Without this benefits focus we struggle to demonstrate what the justification is for a programme or a project. Without that justification our initiatives should not be started or allowed to continue.
If we are working at a project level, our focus (using PRINCE2) is very much on the business justification of our project. Why are we doing this project? Based on the combination of costs, benefits and risk we can determine whether or not the project should be started and should then continue through to completion. We have a very definite focus on the project output but we also keep a focus on benefits to be achieved that are specific to the individual project.
Stepping up to the next level, at a programme level, the essence of successfully delivering our programme is making a stepped change to our organisation’s capability often linked to a strategic objective of our organisation. This involves us taking a much more detailed view of benefits. Looking at how the projects in our programme will deliver outputs which in turn lead to benefits which support one or more of our organisation’s strategic objectives. The combined effect of managing benefits at a program level enables us to maximise the benefits to be achieved and ensuring that there is a direct link between the project benefits and the organisational benefit to be achieved. The MSP Framework covers benefits in a degree of detail which builds on the approach taken in PRINCE2.
At a portfolio level, Management of Portfolios (MoP) sets the delivery of benefits within a portfolio context as well. At this level we are looking to demonstrate how benefits are linked to the achievement of the organizations strategic objectives. This is key for organisation’s today as more and more pressure is being place on them to maximize their delivery.
The frameworks give us excellent guidance on approaching benefits at the various levels of change. One thing that all three frameworks support is that benefits should be defined in measurable terms. This is how we can demonstrate achievement.
So when we are asked ‘What’s the benefit?’, this focus on benefits provides us with the way in which we can demonstrate to our organisation why effective delivery using best practice frameworks is critical in today’s environment.
Project, programme and portfolio management consultant and trainer.
PRINCE2®,MSP® and MoP® are registered trademarks of AXELOS Limited.