Benefits Are Easily Lost
Believing in the “build it and they will come” fallacy can cause benefits to not be delivered. Worse, benefits can inadvertently be prevented from being delivered in the future.
For example, they can be:
- Inadvertently designed out of existence by the way the solution is designed and developed
- Lost through neglect and lack of action to realize them
- Lost through the business staff’s inability to deliver them
- Lost through the whole benefits focus being on measurement rather than delivery.
Without action to deliver them, most benefits will be lost. Fact.
Benefits can and should be realized
- During the project
- At the time of implementation (or implementations if staged), and
- After the end of the project.
But all benefits have to be planned to be realized. This requires benefits delivery planning.
I get worried when I see blank looks from people when they are asked, “What is the starting point for your benefits delivery plans?” Their perspective appears to be that “benefits delivery” is essentially synonymous with “benefits measurement” and next-to-no action other than measurement is required to deliver the benefits.
Now it is true that some benefits will be automatically realized by the implementation of the solution. But even then they often need some additional changes/activities to sustain them. For example, replaced databases need to be culled or deleted otherwise they’ll come back into use.
All of the other benefits need to be actively realized through formal Benefits Delivery or Benefits Change Plans each with clear measures of success.
These Benefits Delivery Plans start with the successful delivery of the project outputs. They start using the outcomes and deliverables of the project and then continue on to deliver the business outcomes, benefits and value.
These Benefits Delivery Plans need to be developed in conjunction with the business to ensure that they are reasonable and within the capability of the business area to successfully execute.
Benefits Delivery is really quite simple.
- Benefits Delivery requires action plans to be executed by the business.
- These plans rely on the project successfully delivering its agreed, measurable 'project outcomes' in full with no compromises.
- Once these outcomes are measured as delivered, the Benefits Delivery (change) Plans can be executed and the benefits realized.
- However, if the project fails to deliver its agreed outcomes in full, this changes the Delivery Plans and can take them beyond the capability of the business to successfully execute. But this is all now visible, known and able to be managed.
- If the business does not execute its Benefits Delivery Plans then this is again visible, and remedial action can be taken where necessary.
Benefits delivery is where the value is finally realized or lost – but it needs to be seen as a change management process, not just a financial measurement process.