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Benefits realisation management - Panacea or false dawn?

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The APM Body of Knowledge defines benefits realisation as being 'the practice of ensuring that the outcome of a project produces the projected benefits'.

Increasingly, especially in today's economic climate, benefits management is seen as a fundamental part of project, programme and portfolio management. At a recent APM conference, John Thorp who is an internationally recognised leader in the field of value and benefits management said that "It is a central tenet of the benefits realisation approach that benefits come only with change and, equally, change must be sustained by benefits. People must change how they think, manage and act in order to implement the benefits realisation approach."

At this event Richard Breese, of Sheffield Hallam University,added to the debate and pose the question as to whether this is a real breakthrough, a panacea to cure the shortcomings and failures of project management, or whether it is just a current fad, which gives the illusion of progress while in reality making no difference to the quality of management processes.

Richard approached the question from two perspectives. Firstly, he drew on his experience of managing regeneration programmes in the 1990s and 2000s, where there was a big emphasis on benefit realisation. Secondly, from a researchers perspective, he highlighted some of the problems with the concept of benefits realisation management (BRM) which are often overlooked. For example, he looked in some detail at the cause and effect assumptions which are a fundamental part of the methods and tools used in BRM.

This event provided a platform for current practitioners to debate their own views on BRM, and by sharing experiences help improve practice in the future.

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