Benefits Realisation Management explained in simple terms

I recently experienced an award-winning project manager summarising my presentation about Benefits Realisation Management and Project Success at the PMI Global Congress EMEA (May/2015) in a way that is probably better than I would do. Elizabeth Harrin has cleverly split the first half of my presentation into 4 parts, which in my view has made it quite an easy and enjoyable reading. Although I saw the posts only after they went live at PMI’s networking website/community, I felt very glad and really liked her initiative.

My presentation was a revised version of the webinar Benefits Realization Management and Project Success (originally presented to the PMI Organisation Project Management Community of Practice), which I expanded with additional information from recent research findings. Its first half, summarised in the four posts, gives a brief overview of Benefits Realisation Management.

The first part is an introduction to benefits management (Benefits Realisation: The Basics Explained, @The Money Files), where she explains that benefits are generated from change that takes place to move the business from a current state to a future desired state – or ‘Vision’. She presents a nice handmade drawing that is her redraw of a picture from one of my research articles published by the International Journal of Project Management (Filling the value gap, adapted from Serra & Kunc, 2015).


Filling the value gap
Filling the value gap

Then, the post explains the meaning of ‘to realise’, as ‘causing something to happen’, ‘making people aware of that’ and ‘making money from that’. It also notes the translation issues that may happen when the term is used in other languages. It also presents my explanation that in simple terms “Benefits realisation is a process to make benefits happen and also to make people fully aware of them throughout the entire process.”

Note that ‘Benefits management: Lost or found in translation’, which is a comprehensive analysis of the spread of benefits management around the world and across different languages, was recently published by Richard Breese, Steve Jenner, John Thorp and me (Breese et al., 2015).

The post concludes by explaining benefits realisation management as a process that involves several different roles in an organisation and that starts before the beginning of a project lifecycle and goes well beyond its end.

The second post presents tools and roles for benefits realisation management (Tools and Roles for Benefits Realisation Management, @The Money Files). It notes the complexity that exists around benefits realisation management (BRM) – that’s maybe why organisations are increasingly hiring specialist in this area. Then, a list of BRM tools is presented and each tool is briefly described. I really liked the way she added her views on top of a summary of my comments about each tool. After that, she presents the three main groups of roles that I employed to classify the different perspectives involved in the benefits realisation process – which is aligned to the brilliant model proposed by Zwikael and Smyrk (2011).

The third post (How can benefits realisation be managed?, @The Money Files) talks about the journey from the delivery of project outputs to the achievement of organisational strategic objectives. The relationship between the steps of this process is illustrated by another very nice handmade drawing that redraws another picture from my research article (Benefits Dependency Network, adapted from Serra & Kunc, 2015). She explains that the groups of processes to manage such journey can be split into planning benefits, reviewing and measuring benefits and then realising benefits, all these aligned by an organisational benefits realisation management strategy.

Benefits Dependency Network
Benefits Dependency Network

The fourth and last post of the series, focus on the effective utilisation of benefits realisation management by an organisation (5 Barriers to Effective Benefits Realisation Management?, @The Money Files). It explains the 5 key points found by my research, which are:

  • Levels of organisational competence in the technical skills required by benefits realisation management.
  • Organisational culture around project success and strategic management.
  • Integration between business processes and departments and/or functions.
  • Specific processes for benefits realisation management, especially when projects deliver to customers that are external to the organisation.
  • Benefits realisation strategies on corporate level covering the entire benefits realisation lifecycle.

These five are published in several places and I repeated a number of times in interviews and presentations. But, a couple of weeks ago, colleague asked my opinion about the really key tips for an organisation to success in benefits realisation management – it had to be something new, from my experience. After a minute of reflection, I shared my view of two very important aspects to ensure not only success in benefits realisation management, but business success:

  • Manage your business as a business has to be managed: have a clearly defined business strategy and manage the execution of your strategy. Know the objectives that each of your initiatives (investments) aim to support the achievement.
  • Know your processes and control your performance: have a clearly defined business model (and if possible a value chain) so that you know which processes generate value to your business and then you can manage their performance. Only by managing the performance of your processes you can really enhance it.

These two sound much more as a recommendation to business leaders than to project managers. That is maybe because much more than influencing project success, benefits realisation management influences strategic project success and the creation of value to the business (Serra & Kunc, 2013; Serra & Kunc, 2015).

I hope you like this post. If you have further interest in this subject, I recommend you to have a read at Elizabeth Harrin’s posts – they are very good.

Benefits Realisation Management and project success: new research article (International Journal of Project Management)

Benefits Realisation Management (also known as Project Benefits Management or Benefits Management) has been under the spotlights in the Project Management community in these last years. The ‘new’ discipline has been increasingly studied and employed by organisations and practitioners as a set of processes which can ensure the execution of business strategies and creation of value, through the delivery and embedment of programme and project requirements into the day-to-day business.

About three years ago, I started a Masters in Programme and Project Management at the WMG – University of Warwick (UK) aiming to identify if Benefits Management could be a missing link between Project Management and Business Strategies. The impact of governance in project success was an issue that I had observed several times in the previous 12 years of my career in Project Management, but I had never had enough time to investigate the issue in more depth. Then, as part of my Masters research and having the support from several organisations and professionals, such as PMI and APM-UK, I gathered over 300 responses to my questionnaires. A set of statistical models helped me to identify the impact of these practices on different perspectives of project success. The results from my research are then an evidence of how much these practices can influence project success from a strategic perspective by ensuring that projects deliver the expected and strategically aligned value to the business.

In 2012, I produced a research paper, which was awarded with the Postgraduate Student Award 2012 by the Benefits Management SIG of the Association for Project Management (APM web page about the award). I also submitted my results to the Project Management Institute (PMI), as a participant of its survey programme.

After further refinement of the analysis, Dr Martin Kunc (Warwick Business School) and I worked on an academic research article which was peer reviewed and recently accepted for publication by the International Journal of Project Management. Although the article is still queuing for publication in paper, it is already available for download from the publisher’s website.

In case you have interest in this subject, the full research article is freely available for download from the links below:

Benefits Realisation Management and its influence on project success and on the execution of business strategies (download from Warwick University WRAP)

My previous outcomes of the same research are still freely available for download from the link below:

Benefits Realization Management and its influence on project success, project governance, and execution of business strategy – Analysis of Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America (download from PMI website)

The influence of Benefits Realisation Management on the success of projects in Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (download from APM website), winner of the Postgraduate Student Award 2012, from the Benefits Management SIG of the Association for Project Management.

Any comments or views are very welcome.