Projects usually have to present a business case to show the benefits the project will deliver. However, once approved, the benefits can become a ‘hoped for extra’ rather than the focus driving the project. Effective benefits management is ignored.
So we have devised these following 12 questions for you to ask about your project to assess if it is benefits focused:
- Are the outcomes clearly listed in measurable business outcome terms?
Not unmeasurable targets, goals and objectives, but clear, defined, true/false measurable outcomes? NB Most projects will fail here as their outcomes are not measurable with a yes/no answered questions (Have we?, Do we?).
- Is the whole project oriented to delivering these business outcomes?
Is the language, planning and reporting oriented to these outcomes? In discussions, are they what everyone refers to?
- Is it clear which benefits each business outcome will either deliver or enable.
Can you easily trace from the project plan how each business outcome and benefit is going to be delivered?
- Has the strategic relevance of this project been quantified in terms of its contribution to the firm’s strategic and tactical imperatives?
If you cannot measure the project's contribution to the organization’s overall strategy and business imperatives — why are you doing it?
- Will the project’s outcomes move the organisation to a new level of performance?
If the level of improvement projected is slight or just beats the hurdle rate — why are you doing it? There must be better investments around.
- Are the benefits planned to be delivered progressively, starting within weeks of the commencement of the project?
The delivery of benefits, improvements, outcomes should commence early in the project, not just at the end (or, worse, only after the end of the project).
- Is there an action-focused change plan that details the change activities required to realize each business outcome and subsequent benefit?
Can you track the progress of the project to these action plans? If not, you’re losing touch with your outcomes and benefits.
- Have you conducted a value-focused project health check to verify that the project is aligned and positioned to deliver the expected outcomes and benefits?
The project may be on schedule and budget but going in the wrong direction!
- Have the executives in the governance roles been trained and supported in project governance?
If not, they can be doing more damage than good. Formal governance training is essential for effective project governance.
- Are you confident you have identified ALL of the possible benefits so that they can be realized?
Most business cases leave 25% plus of benefits ‘on the table’ unidentified. Unidentified benefits are rarely realized.
- For benefits to be realized as part of the delivery of the project, has the accountability for their delivery been agreed?
Too often, the project team assumes the business is going to realize the benefits, and the business assumes the project team is going to. Result, no benefit.
- For any benefits to be realized after the end of the project, has who is to be accountable for their delivery been agreed?
If no one is focused on delivering the benefits they are unlikely to be realized.
- Have the action plans required to ensure the benefits' delivery been developed and agreed?
The business rarely has the skills to define an effective benefits delivery plan. This is where the project team's expertise can be used.
- Do you know who is going to track and report the realization of the benefits and their value over time?
What gets measured gets managed. No benefits measurement will results in reduced benefits delivery.
Untracked, unplanned benefits to be realized during or after the end of the project will vaporize if they are not identified, targeted and closely managed.
Explore more with our entertaining ebook, "Solving the benefits puzzle"