New Book | Benefits Realisation Management: Strategic Value from Portfolios, Programs, and Projects

My book has finally been released. That is quite exciting! Benefits Realization Management: Strategic Value from Portfolios, Programs, and Projects is the result of around five years of work. It started as part of my award winning research on the subject at the University of Warwick. After the conclusion of my research, it has gradually evolved to become a comprehensive collection of best practices compiled in 276 pages. More than only theory, it includes an easy-to-use set of templates, an illustrative case study and more.

I had the honour to have the book revised and edited by John Wyzalek and Dr Ginger Levin, and then published by CRC Press as part of the series Best Practices and Advances in Program Management.

The Subject

As the title clearly states, the book is about Benefits Realization Management (BRM), which is a key part of governance. BRM is a set of processes, tools and techniques. It supports the strategic creation of value for organisations. It provides also the correct level of prioritisation and executive support to ensure the success of the correct set of investment initiatives. Because of its relevance to the governance process, research identified BRM practices having a strong influence over project success. It has been also identified as a link between strategic planning and strategy execution.

The value for practitioners

This book guides portfolio, program, and project managers through the process of benefits realisation management so they can maximize the creation of value to the business. It discusses why and how programs and projects are expected to enable value creation, and it explains the role of BRM in value creation. The book provides a flexible framework for:

  • Translating business strategy drivers into expected benefits;
  • Composing a program and project portfolio that can realise expected benefits;
  • Planning the benefits realisation expected from programs and projects and then making it happen;
  • Keeping programs and projects on track, so that they enable the realisation of the expected benefits;
  • Reviewing and evaluating the benefits achieved or expected against the original baselines and the current expectations.

The value for business managers

The book is not only designed to help project, program, and portfolio managers on their BRM journey, but also to support business managers in successfully executing business strategies. It explains the links built by the BRM techniques between business strategy and project, programme and portfolio management that enable more efficient and effective strategy execution.

In order to support the development of an organisational structure that supports an effective BRM process, the book identifies key organisational responsibilities and roles involved in BRM practices, and it provides a simple reference that can be mapped against any organisational structure.

How-to guide with examples and templates

A detailed and comprehensive case study illustrates each phase of the BRM framework as it links business strategy to project work, benefits, and business value. It makes easier to both students and practitioners to understand how the techniques that are mentioned in the book can be applied in an organisational environment.

Each chapter ends with a series of questions that provide a BRM self-assessment. The book also recommends additional bibliography to support further learning about each chapter. The book concludes with a set of 19 templates and detailed instructions to ensure successful deployment of the BRM tools and techniques.

Experience of research?

Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago, as soon as I started spreading the news about the publication, a friend asked me if the book was result of experience or fully based on research. That is a very relevant question that I answer in the preface. Briefly speaking, the book is a result of over 16 years’ experience as a practitioner combined with several years of academic research.

Although the book focuses on explaining how to implement and how to utilise good practices that have been developed and employed by practitioners all around the world, an academic component comes into place to provide the background, rationale and sometimes evidence of the effectiveness of such practices. Since several academics around the world have been developing new techniques and studying the application of good practices, it is important to take their findings into consideration when assessing the relevance and effectiveness of each practice. This approach reassures the value of practices described in the book.

Therefore, the practices and templates mentioned in the book are the result of a combination of a lot experience with a lot of research.

Where to find the book?

The book has been published by CRC Press (a member of the Taylor & Francis Group) and has been distributed worldwide. The CRC Press online store ships the book to any country for free. You can also find the book in several other stores (e.g. The electronic version is going to be released soon, so watch this space.

Now, why don’t you find out more about the book by following one of these this links to the CRC Press Online Store or to the Amazon online store? I hope you enjoy it.


This same post is available on LinkedIn pulse: New Book | Benefits Realisation Management: Strategic Value from Portfolios, Programs, and Projects

Benefits realisation management and strategy execution

Introduction – context for benefits realisation

Over the last few decades, organisations have gradually developed a general understanding that all projects are investments (mainly in organisational change) and consequently the potential realisation of expected/desired benefits have been increasingly recognised as the main driver for organisations in making their investment decisions.

Therefore, from an investment perspective, we clearly see the relationship between project success and benefits realisation. In other words, a project succeeds when the benefits expected from the investment made are realised. That makes a lot of sense in a world that is mainly profit oriented, where the goals are to maximise efficiency, effectiveness and therefore return on investment.

In the past, projects had their success directly related to the delivery of outputs, which do not guarantee any return on investment and consequently may not link back to the benefits case (which, in the early days of the project lifecycle, had supported the investment decision). It is encouraging to see that organisations are becoming more mature in making investment decisions. However, the revolution needs support.

Researchers and practitioners have been employing a number of techniques –old and new– to manage the journey from the business case to the full realisation of the expected benefits. The management of such journey has been found to be a strong driver for project success from a strategic perspective (Serra & Kunc, 2015). Contributions has been developed around benefits realisation management – that is also called benefits management– which is a relatively new area of knowledge directly linked to project management but it has its roots into operations management and business strategic management.

Programme and project success leads to business success

Although there are contributions towards being more successful in managing programmes and projects, not so much progress has been made in linking these benefits realisation management practices to the execution of business strategies and, in consequence, to the success of the organisation in achieving its goals. If we consider programmes and projects to be investments, the success of an organisation depends on how well their programmes and projects will enable the realisation of any expected benefits, because this is going to tell us if the investment was worth or not.

Thus, benefits realisation management can be applied not only to ensure that individual programmes and projects deliver the enablers for the realisation of desired benefits, but on a more strategic level to ensure that the organisation generates the value that has been planned as its main strategic goal.

Benefits realisation management supporting business success

Based on the above ideas, we believe benefits realisation management can be employed to support the strategy execution and ensure the achievement of strategic goals. To do so, as a starting point, a number of organisations have developed and implemented an enterprise level benefits realisation framework that standardises the processes, tools and approach for benefits realisation. The framework enables the organisation to manage the variety of benefits that are expected to be enabled by all its programmes and projects in a standard and centralised way. The framework enables organisations also to produce an enterprise level benefits realisation strategy, which guides the selection and prioritisation of programmes and project according with the overall business strategy.

More than that, by having such type of frameworks and strategies in place, organisations can more easily integrate the management of their investments in organisational change – projects and programmes – to the management of their operations – or business as usual. This creates strong and clear links that enable full control over the process of delivering change as part of programme and projects, and then later realising benefits as part of day-to-day business operations.

By having such processes in place, organisations can also be able to use sophisticated decision making support systems (based on proven decision analytics tools) to provide better options regarding the portfolio of in-flight investments. The logic for the decision making support systems can be easily derived from the benefits realisation strategy. With this kind of tool in place, decisions to stop a project or to change the delivery approach (prioritisation) in order to maximise the benefits to be achieved can be made more easily once it is supported by structured information and timely warnings.


The old focus about delivering projects on time and budget as the main success criteria for investments in projects has to change to a focus of realising benefits that justify the investment on the project. This approach is supported by a series of frameworks, tools and techniques that enable organisations to manage benefits realisation at programme and project level. We expect the approach to keep evolving into an even more strategic focus on managing the creation of value to the organisation through comprehensive project management, which integrates portfolio management, programme management and project management with operations in order to ensure success in the execution of business strategies.

Authors: Carlos Eduardo Martins Serra, MSc, PMP; Martin Kunc, PhD

Post 8 - PMI UKImportant note: This article was originally published by PMI UK at the June 2016 edition of its newsletter and has been republished here in full with authorisation from the PMI UK Communications Director.


Carlos SerraCarlos Serra is a certified PMP (PMI), APMP (APM) and Prince2 Practitioner, holding an MSc degree in programme and project management (University of Warwick) and a BSc degree in production engineering (CEFET-RJ/Brazil). Since 1999, he has been working in project management across a variety of market sectors, countries and roles. On the academic side, he has designed and delivered project management lectures and presentations for MBA programmes, conferences and training courses, written articles, won academic and professional awards and worked as a journal reviewer. His book about Organizational Benefits Realisation Management will be launched in the next few months by CRC Press.


Martin KuncDr Martin Kunc is Associate Professor in Management Science at Warwick Business School and has a PhD in Decision Science from London Business School. His research interests are in the area of strategic planning, systems modelling and managerial decision making. He has published more than 25 articles in diverse journals such as Strategic Management Journal and Management Decision. He has performed consulting projects in diverse industries in strategic management issues.


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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.

Some of our Project Management topics

As discussed in our previous post, projects and programmes have been employed for thousands of years to manage the execution of business strategies. More recently, perhaps in the last half century these have been increasingly recognised as the best way to do that. With greater relevance, new techniques are constantly being created and new areas of knowledge being discovered or better exploited in order to improve our capabilities to achieve success. The discussion of the following key Project Management subjects will help us to increasingly embark on this journey to a projectized world.

Benefits Realisation Management:

Benefits realisation management ensures projects and programmes delivering the outcomes required by the organisation’s business strategy. More than that, it also ensures the continuous control of these outcomes ensuring the embedment into the business routine.

Project Portfolio Management:

Project portfolio management ensures the strategic effectiveness of the organisation’s projects, by applying the best practices in areas such as project selection, evaluation, prioritisation and control.

Project and Programme Management Office:

Project and Programme Management Offices can be designed in different ways to ensure the successful execution of the organisation’s projects and programmes. They can vary from a repository of best practices and project knowledge to a centre of excellence, which creates methodologies and manages projects and programmes. The more suitable model depends on several factors such as the current business model and objectives.

Project and Programme Management:

Project and programme management are sets of techniques employed to ensure the delivery of non-routine business needs on a manageable and successful way. Allied to Business Performance Management, these techniques set the path for the effective execution of business strategies.

Project Management keywords