Welcome to the "Complete Guide to Benefits Realisation Management", a comprehensive guide that will take you through the essential steps to achieve benefits realisation. In today's fast-paced business environment, it is essential to maximise the value of your organisation's investments. Benefits realisation is the process of identifying and measuring the tangible and intangible benefits of a project or program and ensuring that these benefits are realised.
Many organisations invest in projects and programmes with the aim of achieving specific benefits, such as increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction, or enhanced efficiency. However, too often, these benefits are not fully realised or are not realised at all. This is because organisations fail to plan for and measure the benefits of their projects effectively. In fact, in the UK, only 0.5% of major projects deliver expected benefits on time and within budget.
This guide will provide you with a step-by-step approach to benefits realisation that will help you identify, measure, and realise the benefits of your organisation's investments. We will cover everything from different approaches to benefits realisation, setting up a benefits realisation framework with best practices, to long-term measuring and reporting on benefits. By following the guidance in this guide, you will be able to ensure that your organisation's projects and programmes deliver the expected benefits and maximise their return on investment. But first, let’s explore what exactly we mean by benefits realisation.
Benefits realisation is a process which aims to provide a clear understanding of the value that a project or program will bring to the organisation and its stakeholders. It’s aim is to answer the questions:
Benefits realisation will also look at benefits across different timescales. A comprehensive approach will consider not just the short term, immediate benefits, but also the longer term benefits, that may not be realised for many years.
Of course, many stakeholder aims will be difficult to quantify objectively. This is where challenges in benefits realisation typically arise. A comprehensive benefits realisation framework will do its best to overcome this. By gathering different data sources that can illustrate whether a more abstract aim has been achieved, we can communicate to stakeholders to the best of our ability, as to how the project/programme will impact them.
Benefits realisation as a practice has evolved over the years. Some of the main influencers for modern benefits realisation management include John Kotter’s 8-step change model, Scottish Widow’s Project Management Handbook and the UK government’s ‘Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)’.
Different approaches look at benefits realisation through different angles. One approach, looks at benefits realisation as an ongoing change process, where an organisation's way of working constantly adjusts, resulting in additional benefits. Another, looks at benefits realisation on a project-level, specifying tools and techniques to maximise the benefits realised through implementing projects or programmes of projects. We can also look at benefits realisation on a strategic level, strengthening the bond between strategic direction and operational activity.
Throughout this evolution, various approaches have converged on ‘best practices’ for benefits realisation management. By adopting these ‘best practices’, we can be sure that our benefits framework will be robust, and effectively answer the questions that we outlined earlier.
Since every organisation will have different stakeholder needs, project types and strategic goals, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t recommended. Rather, we suggest curating a benefits realisation framework unique to your situation and your requirements.
Benefits frameworks can be as specific as deemed necessary. They may differ as much as a unique framework for each project type or as general as one common framework across the whole organisation. It’s down to you as project and portfolio managers to decide what is best.
Although each organisation’s benefits measurement framework is going to be unique to them, by following a few best practices, we can make sure we’re on the right track.
The first thing to consider in a benefits realisation management strategy is the importance of roles and responsibilities. Roles include: benefits change managers, who are responsible for tracking the benefits that arise from implementing change, and the benefit owners, who will be the ones that are concerned with the benefit, and will be receiving information in regards to it.
Assigning roles is important not only to ensure that the benefits measurement & reporting process is completed, but also to help individuals understand the ‘bigger picture’. By providing them with a wider view of why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re more likely to gain support for the project and the benefits realisation process.
Before a project or programme is undertaken, it is likely you will have to justify to the investors or budget holders that the project is worthy of investment. To do this, typically, a business case is defined.
In a business case, we will be speculating as to the outcomes and impact of the project/programme. We will also likely be explaining how we intend to deliver the project/programme, ensuring that those desired outcomes and impacts (benefits) are achieved.
The business case is a great opportunity to demonstrate to investors and stakeholders that a benefits realisation management plan is in place. This provides reassurance over the delivery of the project/programme, and prepares stakeholders to expect communication regarding the achievement of their objectives.
The next thing to consider is the process by which you define and measure your benefits. In order to do this effectively, we need to consider who is being affected by the project or programme. We then need to engage these stakeholders, understanding their aims and objectives in the project or programme.
Once the objectives are understood, we can begin operationalizing these as desired benefits. Work with stakeholders to define benefits that are as specific as possible. For example, a stakeholder may wish for the company's performance to improve. This is too generic, and needs to be further clarified. Do they want profit to increase? And if so, do they want to do this by reducing costs or by increasing revenue? These are the questions we need to be asking stakeholders to get specific benefits, that we can then measure objectively.
It is also useful at this point to map stakeholders' relevance to the project/programme. It may be the case that different stakeholders have different objectives, which can diffuse the aims of the project/programme. For this reason, it may be necessary to rank the stakeholders according to a relevance matrix. By doing this, we can thereby rank the importance of each benefit, in accordance to each stakeholder. For more information on stakeholder management, read our intro into stakeholder management plans.
Once we understand the different stakeholders and benefit requirements, we can begin the process of ‘Benefits Mapping’.
The purpose of benefits mapping is to illustrate the ‘cause-and-effect’ between changes that happen through a project’s delivery, the resulting outcomes and the impacts that those outcomes have on the organisation and onto external stakeholders.
By mapping benefits in this way, we are aiming to understand that when the project is implemented, we’re clear about what has happened, how it has happened, who it has affected and why it’s important. This then paints a clear picture, which we can communicate succinctly to stakeholders.
An effective benefits mapping process will result in a ‘benefits dependency network’, an example of which can be seen below:
There are a variety of different mapping styles to be chosen. A ‘results chains’ is one example, which includes elements such as the assumptions required to make the link between initiatives and outcomes. Other styles include ‘Benefit Dependency Maps’ or ‘Benefits Dependency Networks’, with slight variations between each one. We suggest taking a flexible approach to choosing which style to use, adjusting the mapping style for your organisational & stakeholder requirements.
The needs of your organisation may evolve over time. As with any initiative, benefits realisation must also adapt to the changing needs of the organisation. In order to cater for this, we suggest continually monitoring and evaluating your benefits realisation process, to ensure that it is representing the strategic objectives of your organisation and stakeholders.
In the case that these objectives change, then consider reviewing your benefits realisation process, and making any necessary changes to ensure that it is still representative. You may also wish to predefine ‘review periods’, where at intermittent dates, the benefits realisation is reviewed by relevant stakeholders to ensure that it is still on track.
Now that you’re capturing your benefits, you need to consider how you’re going to report those benefits to stakeholders. Remember that each stakeholder group will be interested in different benefit types, so it’s best not to overload everyone with the same information. Rather, it’s better to provide each stakeholder with just the information most relevant to them.
Managing multiple communication channels, each with its own specific requirements can be challenging. Investing in a digital tool such as Intuitix can help manage this process, freeing up time for you and your team.
Projects and programmes are likely to also change quickly, so providing your stakeholders with the most up-to-date information is critical, but can be resource intensive. Again, a digital tool such as Intuitix can automate a large amount of this process, reducing the burden on yourself.
We hope that this guide has been helpful towards your benefits realisation journey. If we were to summarise the key takeaways, it would be that:
Measuring the sustainability of a project is an important task for any project manager. Sustainability refers to the ability of a project to continue delivering value to its stakeholders over the long term. In other words, it's not just about completing the project on time and on budget, but also ensuring that the project continues to have a positive impact on the organisation and its stakeholders even after it's finished. This article will explain how to measure the sustainability of a project
There are several ways to measure the sustainability of a project, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. Some common metrics for measuring sustainability include:
In addition to these metrics, it's also important to consider the project's alignment with the organisation's overall sustainability goals. For example, if the organisation has committed to reducing its carbon footprint, then a project that contributes to that goal would be considered more sustainable than one that doesn't.
To measure the sustainability of a project, it's important to collect data on these metrics throughout the project's lifecycle. This can be done through regular monitoring and reporting, as well as by conducting surveys or interviews with stakeholders. By tracking these metrics over time, project managers can identify any areas where the project is not meeting its sustainability goals, and take steps to improve its performance.
There are many different ways to measure the sustainability of a project, and the best approach will depend on the specific goals and objectives of the project.
Here are some key steps to follow when measuring the sustainability of a project:
There are also several tools and frameworks available to help organisations measure the sustainability of their projects. Some of the most commonly used include:
Measuring the sustainability of a project is an ongoing process that requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation. It is important to regularly review the performance of the project and make adjustments as needed to ensure that it remains sustainable.
Identifying key sustainability goals and objectives, collecting and analysing data, and developing a plan to improve sustainability, organisations can ensure that their projects have a positive impact on the environment and the community.
In conclusion, measuring the sustainability of a project is essential for ensuring its long-term success. By using a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics, project managers can track the project's performance and take action to improve its sustainability. This not only helps the project to continue delivering value to its stakeholders, but also helps the organization to achieve its overall sustainability goals.
If you’re implementing a project, you may have been asked to provide an environmental impact assessment report. This may seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never heard of one of these before. Threat not, once you understand the basics, an environmental impact assessment should be straightforward to put together.
This article will explain where an environmental impact assessment report is typically used. Where they come, why they exist, and how you can create your own.
An environmental impact assessment is a report that looks to evaluate the consequences of a project, programme or policy, prior to its implementation. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) usually applies to projects, whereas a strategic environmental assessment is typically used for policies and programmes.
The EIA essentially looks to account for environmental factors in the same way that financial costs and benefits are typically accounted for in project evaluation. They are used to proactively forecast environmental impact, ensuring accountability in the environmental impact of projects.
The environmental impact assessment is an important part of the evaluation stage of a project, as it will help inform stakeholders and decision makers on whether to go ahead with the project. Since the benefits (or negative impact) is captured, it can influence the cost-benefit analysis of a project or program. It can also serve to gain vital support for a project or programme, by informing stakeholders concerned with environmental impact.
To summarise, the environmental impact assessment may seem like extra work. It is in fact a useful exercise, and when done correctly, can really benefit your project.
To make it as simple as possible for project managers to create their environmental impact assessment report, a 6 step process can be followed. When followed, this process assures that your EIA report has considered all necessary factors.
The first step, screening, is where you are essentially assessing whether an EIA is needed. You will be considering things such as: the extent to which the project is likely to impact the environment, the level of certainty over what those impacts could be, and the severity of those impacts if they are to occur.
The screening stage is where the foundations are laid for the planning of the EA. If the EIA is being mandated by a particular body or authority, then their requirements should also be considered at this stage.
The next step involves taking what was learned in the screening process, and making this into an actionable plan. Here we will highlight areas of focus, and scheduling activities around these. Concerns about the impact on: air, water, soil and noise may have monitoring activities implemented and projections forecasted.
During this stage, we will also be dedicating adequate resources to each focus area, again, using the data that we identified during the screening phase.
At this stage, it is also helpful to bring in various stakeholders to input on the scope of the EIA. This is also a chance to address any concerns they may have, by making them aware of the mitigations that are taking place against those risks.
Since no project has unlimited resources , it is useful to consider alternatives also at this stage. Though the scope of the EIA needs to adequately address the concerns of the screening phase, where more practical options are available, they may be chosen.
Once we’ve put together a plan and scope for the environmental impact assessment, it is time to implement that plan. Here, we will be using existing data, along with gathering new data, to create a forecast of what the impacts could be.
Since it is never going to be 100% accurate, it can also be useful at this stage to indicate level of confidence, or even create different scenarios, with a best case, medium case, and worst case scenario.
The next phase involves publicising the results of the previous step. Consider the stakeholders who were engaged during step 2, and what their priorities or concerns would be regarding. It is good to tailor the messaging to them, to ensure that their concerns are addressed, and that they then become supporters of the project.
There may also be regulatory reporting required at this stage. This is dependent on the governing bodies/authorities around the project. Since this is going to be different for each industry and country, we suggest checking with your local authorities on what this may be. An example for the UK can be found here.
Once the results of the EIA have been collected and reported to the necessary stakeholders, decisions will now be made regarding whether to take the project forward. It’s important to consider different stakeholder’s viewpoints, which we’ve talked about before in another article.
You may also wish to account for expected environmental impacts in the cost-benefit ratio, if this is a tool that you’re using to evaluate whether to go ahead with the project.
The final stage is to implement a process of continued monitoring and review. As mentioned prior, the impact forecasts are never 100% accurate. It’s therefore important to keep monitoring environmental impacts, taking intervention measures where necessary, and communicating this to stakeholders.
We hope this has helped guide you on the process of writing an environmental impact assessment report. If you’d like additional help in making and continually tracking data forecasts in relation to projects, please do get in touch via our contact form.