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Forget Everything You've Learnt About Project Delivery, Part 8: Benefits Measurement

Forget Everything You've Learnt About Project Delivery, Part 8: Benefits Measurement

Your benefits management process needs to measure the delivery of the business outcomes, business benefits and value, separately and consistently

Benefits measurement is more than tracking the dollars. It involves measuring the delivery of the desired business outcomes, the benefits and the realized value

Most executives live in a wonderful world with projects — they can promise almost anything in the business case because there is no effective measurement process at the other end of the delivery process.

In addition, traditional approaches to benefits measurement have failed because they've been too simplistic and haven't understood the practical dynamics of benefits.

While there are several types of benefit, there are two that are important for project managers — immediate (that can be realized when the project outcome is delivered) and post-project benefits (that can only be delivered (in full) some time after the project, or at least a phase of the project, has finished).

Delivery of the 'immediate' benefits should be seen as a measure of the project's delivery success. Delivering the post-project benefits is a measure of the Sponsor's and Steering Committee's success.

Your benefits management process needs to measure the delivery of the business outcomes, business benefits and value, separately and consistently. These are different measures of success. Therefore, using realization of the dollar values from the business case as a proxy for the delivery of the benefits is fallacious as the financial value can legitimately change during the course of the project (due to external factors).

A project benefit value of, say, $2m, could change due to external market pressures, interest rate changes or other events. It could increase or decrease.

If the real value is now $1m, insistence on the delivery of $2m will require unplanned savings to be made elsewhere with unknown side effects.

However, if the real value is now $3m, insistence on only $2m in benefits will see the additional $1m lost as no one will be looking for it.

This valid volatility in the financial value also means your benefits management process needs to track and monitor the project's financial value at all times to ensure the project is still financially viable.

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