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Managing benefits from projects - the NHS way

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BAWA was the venue for this SWWE event looking at benefits management. Our speaker tonight, Dr Hugo Minney, is a member of the APM Benefits Management Specific Interest Group, (SIG), and manages a GP led federation caring for 170000 patients.

Hugo led members through a 1 hour practical session which looked at identifying stakeholders, thinking about what actually make a difference, the need to measure and report to drive change, stakeholder and benefits mapping.

Hugo started with some basics and definitions. A benefit is a result that a stakeholder perceives to be of value. Benefits management is the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of business benefits. He explained, the concept of Social Return on Investment (SRoI), which is a framework for measuring and accounting for a broad concept of value; it seeks to reduce inequality and environmental degradation and improve wellbeing by incorporating social, environmental and economic costs and benefits.

He emphasised that benefits are more than just about profit. For the NHS, investing in the flu jab, provides savings for the public purse, and there is value put on quality of life. For commercial organisations, customer satisfaction is an indicator of future business and staff satisfaction leads to increased productivity.

Improvements are delivered through change, but change does not happen on its own; people are responsible for change.  But people naturally resist change as they see it as a risk. Benefits management can help people see what’s in it for them and to motivate them to support change through a clear vision, a way to measure progress and a clear connection between action and what is achieved.

Hugo outlined 4 stages of when to apply benefits management: to explain why the project is needed, through the business case, to sponsors and stakeholders; to detail what and how as part of project planning and delivery to ensure decisions maximise the required benefits; at handover of the capability to motivate users to realise the benefits; and during BAU to measure and report benefits realisation and continuous improvement. He explained how the benefits management stages worked with the project management stages.

Hugo then outlined the 6 stages of SRoI: establish the scope; map outcomes; evidence the outcomes; establish the impact and calculate the SRoI. He emphasised that it should be driven by a real understanding of what the stakeholders actually value.

Hugo then led the delegate tables through a series of exercises to practice the SRoI stages using an example of the Airedale Integrated Care project.  The first exercise looked at identifying and engaging with stakeholders where each was mapped as important, influencing or interested, then for one of the important stakeholders delegates were asked to list the non financial benefits valued by them.  Next delegates were asked to think about how to measure ‘patient empowerment’ as an example of SRoI.  They were then asked to use post it notes to map benefits, starting with strategic objectives, what they were trying to achieve, through ends, ways and means.  Hugo emphasised that post it notes help with discussion and engagement.  He has found that using computer based tools disenfranchises participants. He also recommended the use of a facilitator to help with benefits mapping workshops.  Benefits mapping allows stakeholders to reach a common understanding of what is to be delivered and how, it also provides a powerful way to understand the impact of any changes in the environment and so help manage a portfolio of projects delivering strategic objectives.

Hugo discussed the benefits of motivated staff: pride in their work, lower sickness, easier recruitment, higher retention, increased productivity and engagement with delivering corporate objectives – all of which affect the bottom line. Using the example of empowered patients, he discussed the how the SRoI can be calculated in terms of how many would be empowered, by how much, and the difference that would make in terms of quality of life, happiness and reduced use of NHS resources.  It is also important to look at what would have happened anyway without this specific empowerment project, what would the expected cost of residential care or hospital care be? Happiness can also be valued; votes!, sickness can lead to loneliness, depression, obesity.

Hugo summed up what we have learnt. People do not go to work to do a bad job, we want to make a difference, few people work just for the money.  Benefits management and SRoI is a powerful tool to engage with stakeholders, including staff, to understand the need for change, to motive, and drive change through. Staff often know what needs to be changed first and know what needs to be done. People do not resist their own design for change.  The effective use of benefits management can really help embed effective change throughout an organisation through empowering staff. Hugo quoted Lao Tzu: ‘When the best leader’s work is done, the people will say: “We did it ourselves”’.

The presentation can be viewed below or on the APM Resources page.

Martin Gosden
SWWE Branch Chairman


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