At the beginning of March, when life was still relatively normal, the latest edition of the North-West Branch awards evening was held at Manchester University. This event has been running for the last 8 years so has become something of a feature for Project Management students.
A lively audience of more than 70 people, comprising a mixture of international postgraduate students and experienced project managers, attended the event in one of the larger lecture theatres in the Renold building.
After an introduction by Ian Stewart, who is Academic Lead - Management of Projects Research Group the evening started with short presentations by three students from the Management of Projects MSc course. These centre around their reflections on the Body of Knowledge v7, which forms the basis of one of their course modules, and what they have learnt from it.
The three students, Shifan Zou, Ruiqi Li and Buan Zheng, therefore presented to their peers, judges and APM members about how the BoK has helped them in their studies and how they propose to use their skills in the future. After some great presentations, the judges retired to decide on the best one.
This was followed by an explanation about an important aspect of project management, Benefits and Value Management [ Why we do stuff ] by Hugo Minney. We’ve been thinking about Benefits Management for nearly 50 years, but it’s only now, with the rising awareness of megaprojects which are going wrong, and the huge amount of money being wasted in projects that fail, that organisations are really seeking to change their culture. Hugo’s talk was about motivating this culture change, migrating the project workforce ( including sponsors, in many cases! ) from a specification-led approach to one focused on stakeholders and benefits realisation.
Project Management is fairly simple – it can be considered as one dimensional. You do stuff, you get stuff.
Benefits Management takes this into a second dimension – you take account of what people want, you do stuff, you get stuff, you see how it fits with what people want. Having two dimensions means that you can do more (or less) of something because the needs and wants of your stakeholders have changed, or you can identify better ways to meet their needs. Benefits Management can become the criterion for making those start/ stop/ increase/ decrease decisions that ensure good projects are more successful, and bad projects are stopped. Think of programme management like the second dimension to project management, and Benefits Management as the enabler of programme management.
And there’s a third dimension – a Benefits Management framework. A Benefits Management framework is like the portfolio dimension of managing projects. With a Benefits Management framework in place, you can prioritise, make selections, optimise, work within resource constraints across part of the business or the whole business, and balance up the competing needs for resource between the business and the change elements. A framework helps you to answer the never-ending question of how much to spend on change and how much to spend on “keeping the lights on”.
Have a look at the slides at:
and the feedback from the audience and see what you agree with or don’t.
Connect with Hugo on LinkedIn to discuss this issue further if you wish.
To round off the evening, after some brief summaries by Kevin Kane of the student presentations, the winner of the APM Award 2020 was announced as Ruiqi Li, who won £ 100 in book tokens.
As on some popular TV game shows, there are no losers here, so fellow presenters Shifan and Buan each received book tokens to the value of £50.
They all also went away with A4 certificates, signed by Richard Preston as Branch Chair, to celebrate their performance.
So, to round off, a big “thank-you” to Ian and the University for hosting the event. We look forward to a similar event in 2021.
Written By Hugo Minney