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Tackling the problem of pet projects with benefits management webinar

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“How many times have you looked at the project that has been assigned to you and think “this should have been stifled at birth”? The projects that don’t help an organisation on towards its objectives, that only serve to increase the budget of the manager in charge, or that pull in the opposite direction to everyone else causing disruption?

Claire Dellar tackles this with aplomb. She recognises that the people who shout loudest, the people who can get a pet project (or as I call them, “ego projects”) through are often people with a lot of influence, so she doesn’t go head on. To quote her own words:

“Are you running a kennels for pet projects? Use benefits management to keep your senior managers on a leash, walking to heel and even jumping through hoops!

If investment decisions are made based on who does the best ‘puppy dog eyes’ (or barks the loudest) how do you keep the pet projects out of your portfolio and concentrate on your most valuable initiatives?”

Claire highlighted that a key job for the benefits manager is to keep everyone’s eyes on the organisation’s (and other stakeholders’) objectives. If projects aren’t helping to achieve the objectives, then why are we investing in them, in whatever form that investment takes?

Claire then introduced us to a scoring tool that will help benefits managers to compare options, facilitating the stakeholders so that they believe it was their idea all along. As well as the standard components for scoring that need to be on any scoring sheet (availability of resources, likelihood of success, cost), She showed us how to add the important “alignment to organisation objectives” using a motivated workforce, impact on the operating budget, and environmental considerations.

She used Mentimeter to get the 100 or so voters on the call to decide how much to weight each factor – before the options were revealed. This ensured that the weighting won’t be influenced to favour the “pet” option.

Once the weighting is in place, the options can be scored, the scores multiplied by the weighting factors, and a final single score for each option can be used to compare them. It’s the stakeholders who, transparently, decide the weighting of the factors, and this helps to ensure that the right decisions are made.

The tool is available for download. It is worth reviewing the slides and the recording before using it, so as to understand how it works. The tool itself is probably in use in many organisations already – Claire’s novel approach for engaging stakeholders in a transparent manner is what makes this approach so powerful.

There was a Q&A too and Claire is kindly reviewing and providing written answers to the questions that will be available within a couple of weeks.

This webinar built on the content and worked example in the recently released APM Learning module on benefits management. While it is not required reading, you may find it useful to familiarise themselves with the module before engaging in the webinar resources. APM Learning is available to individual members with Associate or higher grades.


Webinar resources 

This webinar is suitable for professionals with an intermediate level of experience.

Claire has very kindly allowed her presented material to be made available for viewing.
The webinar recording is on YouTube, and the audiences responses have been collated with the slides on the Mentimeter presentation software during the webinar, are now available in our APM resources area and also embedded below for reference.

The Value index template used during the presentation has been shared as an additional resource.


Host and write up author
Hugo Minney
 is an active volunteer with APM for around a decade, and the APM Benefits and Value Specific Interest Group Chair.  Hugo enjoys learning, and what better way to learn, than to host a webinar, introduce the speaker and prioritise the questions and comments?

Claire Dellar

Grateful for her unbelievable fortune in having actually found something useful to do with her education as an experimental and behavioural economist, Claire makes for an engaging and entertaining speaker. In the field of benefits and portfolio management she is an expert in changing the behaviour and mindset of organisations, improving their return on investment while also making them happier places to work.

As a portfolio benefits and change management professional, Claire is well known in project management circles for her innovative approach to problem solving and her positive leadership, particularly on gender and disability in the workplace.

Having spent over fifteen years in the police and NHS, she has now founded an international consultancy Transformists Ltd, with the aim of changing society through reversing the 70% failure rate of projects. To do this, she is building a conscience-led international consultancy of world class specialists in their field.

She also chairs the NHS National Benefits Management Specific Interest Group, and leads on benefits and value thought leadership in the volunteer committee APM Benefits and Value Specific Interest Group.

#apmwebinar #apmbenefitsvalue

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition reference

Section Description
Benefits to the organisation
Adoption and benefits realisation
Success and benefits


Image: Viorel Sima/Shutterstock 


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