Projects can progressively deliver benefits and value throughout their duration. You don't (and shouldn't) wait till the project is handed over to start making the changes needed to deliver value.

Planned Progressive Benefits Realization Increases the Value Realized

You can delay the realization of benefits that could be generated and ‘banked’ during the project by not focusing on their progressive realization. If you see benefits as being enabled and delivered only at the end of the project you‘ll not be looking to deliver them during the project.

Progressive delivery of benefits throughout the duration of the project both builds confidence in the project and reduces its net cost to the organization.

You can choose the lifecycle of your project. Technical lifecycles tend to build a crescendo –a 'big bang' implementation – with the expectation that everything will happen then or thereafter. This is the common systems-related lifecycle approach. But it does not have to be this way – even with systems-based projects.

All Projects Are 'Change Projects'

When you view your project as a ‘change project’, you plan to deliver change throughout the project and some of this change will deliver or enable immediately available benefits. Costs can be reduced by stopping existing tasks, changing how you do certain activities. These and other types of benefits can be ‘banked’ long before the technical lifecycle delivers its results.

However, if you think of your project as a ‘systems project’ then you’ll not readily see the availability of immediate and progressive benefits during the project. “How can you realize benefits before the system is installed? Is the question posed? But if you think of your project as one of a continuous, cumulative change program, then you can find benefits realization opportunities throughout the project.

In Conclusion

The opportunity is often to realize 20% or more of the total available value. Realization of this value early sustains the team’s morale (we’re delivering), business management and staff’s confidence in the project (it’s delivering), while also reducing the net cost of the project as the value of the benefits kicks in – a triple bottom line! And progressive benefits delivery also spreads the project’s change impact over a period of time making change easier to implement, absorb, and sustain.


Topics: Change Management, Benefits Management


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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Jun 2010) as "Where Does Value Go On Projects? Loss Due To Late Benefits Delivery"

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