Benefits realisation - Driving change to deliver results

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Posted by APM on 13th Apr 2011

On 30 March 2011 speakers from the APM Benefits Management SIG presented the latest thinking on benefits realisation to 80 members at the SWWE annual project management conference, held at BAWA, Bristol.

The case for benefits management
In the face of public spending cuts, globalisation, increased competition, shrinking markets and growing costs the need for benefits delivery has never been greater. Where capital is invested, it must return benefits.

About the Benefits Management Special Interest Group (SIG)
Peter Glynne, SIG Chairman talked about the benefits journey so far. With over 1100 members and a series of regular events, the Benefits Management SIG is an active part of APM. Over the past 2 years it has published 4 reports on subjects as diverse as how benefits drive the right behaviours in organisations, through to how benefits are applied in the built environment.

What's the current state of benefits management?
John Thorpe joined the session via video link directly from Vancouver and gave a damning assessment of the current state of benefits delivery. Only 30% of IT projects succeed; change initiatives fail 70% of the time and just 10% of all strategies are successfully executed. Against this backdrop, John said the three fundamental questions we should be asking are:

Are we getting the optimal benefits?
At an affordable cost?
With a known and acceptable level of risk?

With this in mind, John stressed that the Business Case is a crucial tool for ensuring the continued viability of the benefits you are expecting to deliver. All too often the business case appears to be seen as a method for gaining financial approval, or simply a game. The outcomes detailed in these documents are largely works of fiction, or strategic misrepresentation.

What are your chances of success?
Benefits can only be delivered through change and Sarah Harries, Head of Business Improvement at BT argues that what is often forgotten is that once a benefit has been enabled (e.g. a team's spare capacity increased), further change is required before that benefit can be banked (e.g. increased revenue per team-member per day), and making that change happen is hard. To increase your chances of making that change happen, Sarah has the following six top tips:
1. Appoint the right sponsors, with SMART targets
2. Involve recipients of change in delivery of change
3. Beware change fatigue
4. Promote the meaning of value and benefits
5. Investment decision-makers should set clear standards
6. Relevance rather than detail in reporting.

David Cross Branch Newcomers' Representative.

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