Benefits Management – still a success story

Benefits management has got a bad name. I’ll go into the reasons for this later. But it isn’t terminal, and I’m presenting a workshop on the subject in the very lovely Durham University Business School on 23rd May 6pm. Book here

Durham University Business School from the quadrangle - courtesy DUR.AC.UK
Durham University Business School – courtesy of

What’s the problem with Benefits Management?

Benefits Management (BM), or Benefits Realisation Management (BRM), have been used to justify projects after the event. Someone with a strong personality gets a decision to proceed, sometimes bypassing the gateways and robust business cases normally needed. Then the luckless person assigned the title “benefits manager” gets told to find enough benefits to justify the costs of the project. To make it Value for Money.

Even the name Benefits Realisation Management (or Benefits Realization Management, since it’s defined by the PMI (Project Management Institute)) gives the game away – the benefits were named by someone else, and the BR Manager is given the job of realising them somehow. Not-very-useful things get given a suit and tie, and presented as “benefits”.

How do we fix it?

Well, come along to the workshop, of course! at Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham, DH1 3LB

Basically, start at a different starting point.

  1. the big benefit for any project is WHY? (or Y?). What’s the problem you are trying to solve (reducing costs, improving the economy, a regulation change)? Or is it an opportunity you want to take advantage of (getting into a new market, launching a new product)?
  2. Use Benefits Management to define the problem (or opportunity – the process is exactly the same), and only once you have defined the problem, have a look at possible solutions, some of which may be projects
  3. To build a business case, define a set of planned benefits, and quantify them. Do the expected (planned) benefits, including the big Y benefit, justify the business case? Do they represent VALUE ie more benefits than costs/ investment of other sorts? You may need to convert “soft” benefits (customer retention, employee satisfaction, Intellectual Property) into cash value equivalent. You may need to convert investment value into cash value equivalent as well!
  4. Do your project. At all stages, Benefits Management plays a part – instead of trying to get to the next milestone by keeping within tolerance, think “how can I maximise value?” You’ll find that benefits multiply when you take this approach.
  5. Finally, after handing the solution over to users, THAT’s when you realise benefits. You may even find a whole lot more benefits that you hadn’t even thought of before – make sure that the users exploit the additional benefits to get real value for the investment, and it’s also quite motivating.
APM Association for Project Management - Benefits and Value SIG logo
APM Association for Project Management - North East branch logo

I look forward to seeing everyone at It’s a joint event between the Benefits and Value SIG and North East Branch.

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