It goes without saying that projects should deliver benefits. For organisations, understanding what these benefits are, their quantities and how they relate to projects is key to harvesting the most value from projects, something we use a benefits realisation strategy for. When pursuing a benefits realisation strategy, you will find that one of the most important steps to get right is mapping your benefits. To do this, we complete a benefits mapping process.
A benefits mapping process will illustrate and communicate to the organisation what the key benefits that they’re looking to achieve are. Benefits can be discussed and refined to best reflect strategic goals. It will then demonstrate how the outcomes of projects eventually lead to said benefits, so that procedures and actions are in place to enable those benefits to be realised.
A comprehensive benefits mapping process is the foundation of an effective benefits realisation strategy. It can even positively impact the likelihood of successful project delivery.
One key purpose of the benefits mapping process is to adequately communicate the benefits of a project to stakeholders. Achieving this can lead to additional buy-in and support from stakeholders, as they’re made aware of the why behind projects. This helps them realise how projects can benefit the organisation and their day-to-day role, encouraging them to do all they can to assist in the successful delivery of projects.
Another important aspect of benefits mapping is during the project selection stage. Many benefits measurement techniques rely on quantified benefits to be assessed against the costs or risks associated with a project, so that a ‘score’ can be derived. This score will then be used to assess the project against others, leading to decisions being made on which to pursue. The benefits mapping process allows these benefits to be quickly visualised and forecasted, so that projects can be fairly assessed using this methodology.
Lastly, an effective benefits map can prove a very useful tool when it comes to planning project delivery, or drawing up the benefits realisation plan. The benefits realisation map will explain each step in the journey from project activities to realised benefits; tasks, actions and procedures may need to be put in place before project activities can result in desired benefits.
By visualising this prior to a project, these tasks and actions can be scheduled to ensure benefits are achieved in a timely manner. Likewise, procedures can be put in place minimising any delays in benefits being realised.
We’ve touched upon the fact that a benefits map will show the journey between project activities and realised benefits, but how do we go about representing this visually? The answer is a benefits dependency network.
An example of a benefits dependency network from a Harvard Business Review article can be seen above.
A benefits dependency network will show each step between the project activities and benefits ultimately realised, highlighting any:
It should aim to ‘tell a story’, showing the logic behind why projects are doing what they’re doing. It will also show the ‘critical path to success’, informing project planning.
The benefits mapping process, and creation of the dependency network, should not be done in isolation. Try and engage stakeholders, and reach a consensus on what and how activities, enablers and objectives relate to benefits. This also serves to help communicate the benefits dependency network to different stakeholders, as they’ve been engaged from the outset.
Furthermore, by engaging stakeholders from the outset, an idea of roles and responsibilities can be delegated early on. This will save time later on, as this is a key part of creating the benefits realisation plan.
To help get you started on your benefits mapping process, it may be worth considering using a benefits mapping template.
A benefits mapping template can give you an idea of where to start. It provides the categories, such as: objectives, benefits, stakeholders, outcomes, projects and enablers.
We would recommend using a prebuilt template in a software such as Miro or Lucidchart to create a digital version of the map. The benefits map doesn’t have to follow a strict structure, so feel free to make changes or additions to best reflect your organisation or project needs.
After the first draft has been created, it can be shared with different stakeholders, and iterated until perfect. Once a final version has been agreed upon, it’s useful to share around the organisation, so that everyone is fully informed of the benefits map.
The benefits mapping process is just one part of an ongoing benefits realisation strategy. A comprehensive benefits realisation strategy encompasses a mix of: project monitoring, stakeholder engagement, data collation, data calculation and reporting.
Intuitix was built to make this journey simple, providing automated and accurate data on benefits realisation. This makes the whole process of project selection, benefits mapping, reporting and decision making simpler and easier.
To find out more about how Intuitix can help on your benefits realisation journey, get in touch via our contact us page.