The essential THIRD dimension

The Essential Third Dimension

Initially, the focus was on successfully completing projects. “Successful” often meant ‘finish’ — hopefully within sight of the original budget and timeframe. This was called “Doing projects right”.

Then the focus came onto selecting the right projects. “Right” often meant ‘financially positive’ with some cognisance of the risks involved. This was called “Doing the right projects”.

This is where most organisations are today — trying to do the right projects right.

But there is a third dimension — delivering the right value.

Unfortunately along the way the whole purpose of projects — delivering business benefits and value[1] — has been forgotten. It has been ‘assumed’ (or ‘hoped’) that benefits will flow from whatever the project delivers. But as businesses around the globe can attest, “that ain’t necessarily so!”

This illustrates a mistaken mindset— that there are projects and then there are benefits, and one follows the other.

When you take a Totally Optimized Projects approach to implementation of your projects, you see the two — the projects and the benefits — as inextricably intertwined.

Projects should (and can) deliver benefits throughout their lifecycle.

In a large utility, we defined in detail all of the new ways the utility was going to work in 14 weeks. This work specified what we wanted the systems to do and also identified the many changes required of the business to adapt and get the value from the systems.

The system was scheduled to be delivered in 15 months' time. However, we weren’t going to wait 15 or so months for benefits so we started on benefits delivery at once.

In the first six months, we realised 28% of the available benefits. In the first year, this rose to 43%.

Delivering Benefits Early And Progressively

  • reduced the net cost of the project to the organisation (we came in 10% under budget)
  • improved the organisation’s performance as the project progressed
  • proved to any non-committed staff that this project was successful and could (and did) deliver results — and that they needed to get on-board
  • isolated the project from any scope reductions, culling, cancelling, delaying or any other externally imposed constraint — everyone was on-board to ensure its success
  • its proven history meant it got top billing when it came to allocating resources; “This project works, let's get on it” was the belief generated.

This early and continuous benefits delivery approach also reinforced the organisation’s ‘backbone’ when it came to dealing with a major consultancy — the organisation could confidently knock-back the consultant’s recommendations knowing that their own plan was delivering results and value.

Overall, the project came in on time, under budget, and realised every benefit promised! And this from a project that was led by people who had never led or directed a project before.

(BTW, in the same organisation at the same time, the same SI implemented different modules of the same software and came in 8 and 10 months over time and more than 100% over budget — so they certainly weren’t the difference that made the first project a business success.)

In Conclusion

When you add the essential ‘third dimension’ — delivering the right value — you are beginning to focus on value delivery management.

[1] NB If you don’t deliver value, you’re better off with the status quo.

Topics: Strategy Execution, Value Delivery, Value Equation, Program / Project delivery

Further Reading



[1] ...

Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Jul 2008) as "The Essential THIRD Dimension"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections