Even after you have delivered the benefits, you can lose them again if your change management process does not make sure they stay "sticky".

Benefits Need To Be Both Attained And Sustained

You can destroy value by not actively sustaining achieved benefits, allowing old habits, old processes and unnecessary extra steps to be reinstalled, diminishing the net value realized. Once gained, benefits need to be actively sustained.

Value loss, after all of the hard work of its delivery, is a complete waste.

The pressures at the end of a project are often intense to close it down, stop the cash burn and dismantle the project team. People are tired and fatigued and want to see the end of the project. Their perspective is, therefore, to the delivery of the project outputs and not beyond.

The need to plan 'sustaining' activities

Yet, when change is implemented there are many factors that can cause it to not ‘stick’ resulting in the value inherent in the change to be lost. People go back to the old ways of working, the new ways are circumvented or undermined, and if things don’t work once, everyone gives up on the new processes.

Sustaining achieved change and benefits has to be part of your planning process – not only “How are we going to get there from here?” but also “And how are we going to ensure that we sustain all of the gains we make?” This latter question is rarely asked. It is expected (hoped?) that business, as usual, will somehow pick this issue up and address it. But too often this does not happen and the success of the change is progressively eroded, often non-consciously and unintentionally.

In Conclusion

To protect your project’s value, the governance team needs to ensure that every change plan contains a ‘sustain activities’ column to detail the changes, resources, measures, processes or whatever required to ensure the changes and their benefits are sustained when they are challenged by future events or changes in personnel.

A 'Sustain' column is an integral part of the TOP Change Management and Planning process - EXPLORE HERE


Topics: Change Management


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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (June 2010) as "Where Does Value Go On Projects? Value Lost After Benefits Realization"

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