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Implementing a benefits management framework

Introduction: Benefit Management Framework



The purpose of a Benefits Management Framework is to manage benefits at an organisational level by aligning project benefits to strategic goals of the organisation. In this way, an organisation can standardise their benefits management across all their projects, programs and portfolios and prioritise them for investment. It provides structure for categorising the benefits of a project, allowing an organisation to map benefits from the project level to their contribution to the organisation’s strategic objectives and ensure that the rights projects get the right investment of resources. Standardisation of benefits managements looks like standard processes, standard tools and standard reporting for managing and measuring benefits.


Navigating Project Benefits Framework: Challenges and Success


Organisations invest in projects with the purpose of maximising its success through change brought about by it. Managing project benefits comes with challenges. Having diverse definitions of success is one of the common challenges. Within the different organisations, there are various ways they define success, such as financial surplus, quality of life improvements, or increased shareholder value. It can be challenging to meet these diverse expectations.


Another common challenge for managing project benefits is investing in change. Do the investments within projects increase success in the organizations? Are they effective in bring about positive change? Therefore, it is important evaluate and measure the return on investment. A benefits management framework ensures better investment decisions, benefits will be realised, and governance. With the capability of quantifying the value each project adds to the organisation, a framework supports more objective decision-making and comparison of investments.


Figure 1 - Four stages to implement a benefits management framework


The final challenge is benefits realisation. When focusing on providing benefits to stakeholders it is also important to still work on organisational success. The balance of project benefits and organisational objectives is essential. A benefits management framework should define the benefits that are to be delivered to which parts of the business, in what form and when. This provides meaningful measures to quantify the actual delivery of benefits whilst minimising the risk and maximising opportunities for future and additional benefits. It also aids the ongoing assessment of project performance by establishing criteria for compliance and audit.


Transitioning from Project to BAU


To ensure a seamless transition where benefits are realised at the organisational level, clear definition of the organisation’s strategic goals with a distinction between strategic objectives for change and for BAU is crucial. A benefits management framework should define components of each strategic goal so individual benefits from projects can be aligned and quantified towards a strategic objective.


The transition from project delivery to Business-as-Usual (BAU) is critical for the sustained realization of benefits. The handover usually occurs after project deliverables are completed but before the project is officially closed. It begins with preliminary activities like training and initial integration as the project nears completion. The formal handover happens at project completion, ensuring BAU teams are ready to assume responsibility. Some activities may continue post-completion to address any operational issues and ensure smooth continuation of benefits. This structured approach ensures a seamless transition and the ongoing success of project initiatives in the BAU environment.


Key to this process is the development of a Benefits Realisation Plan, which outlines the expected benefits, the strategy for achieving these benefits, and how these are to be measured and reported. This plan not only guides the project team in delivering the project outcomes but also aids the BAU team in taking over the project deliverables and integrating them into regular operations, ensuring that the project's benefits continue to be realized as per the strategic objectives of the organization.


Essential or Excess: The Role of Benefits Managers


A Benefits Manager not only tracks and measures the benefits across projects but also ensures that these benefits are sustained long after project completion. They provide a structured approach to manage and optimize project outcomes, ensuring that every project contributes positively towards the strategic goals of the organisation, thus enhancing overall organisational capability.


Not every organisation has a dedicated Benefits Manager, and whether or not one is present often depends on the size of the organization, the complexity of its projects, and its focus on strategic benefits realization. In smaller organisations or those with fewer complex projects, the role of a benefits manager might be integrated into other roles, such as project managers, or senior management might oversee this function.


Hiring a benefits manager or establishing a benefits management function can be seen as a significant investment. However, for organisations engaged in frequent and complex change initiatives, this role is crucial for ensuring that the resources allocated to projects yield the expected strategic value.

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