What is benefits management and project success?


Benefits management is the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of benefits. Benefits realisation is the practice of ensuring that benefits are derived from outputs and outcomes. 

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition  📖


In order to facilitate benefits realisation during the extended project duration, benefits management is needed as an additional activity required to translate requirements that have been expressed in terms of benefits.

Benefits typically have a tangible value, ideally expressed in monetary terms to justify the investment. They are often realised sometime after transition into use, hence accountability for benefits realisation resting with the sponsor.

(Copyright: APM. Illustration from Body of Knowledge 6th edition)

Benefits management lifecycle    RESOURCE  

APM's Benefits Management SIG have written a practitioner's guide to this area of project management

Supporting the article is a diagram that provides a framework that organisations can adopt to optimise the realisation of business value from their investment in change.

read more

Benefits management lifecycle

What is project success?


Project success is the satisfaction of stakeholder needs and is measured by the success criteria agreed at the start of a project. Success is a relative concept, judged by stakeholders and the role of the project professional is to:

  • explore perception of success and benefits;
  • facilitate an agreed position, as far as possible

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition  📖

All projects are designed to bring benefits to the investing organisation, but the success criteria for many projects excludes benefit realisation as this is handled by another part of the organisation. Benefits therefore are different to success criteria.

Success criteria is the satisfaction of stakeholder needs for the deployment of a project. This is a different performance measure to benefits which are focused on the strategic intent and delivering beneficial change. Success criteria are agreed with stakeholders as early as possible but can be changed at any time in the project life cycle, subject to approval through change control.

Achievement of project management success criteria is known at project handover and accountability for achieving the project success criteria rests with the project manager. Project professionals ensure that here is a clear linkage between benefits, project success criteria, project objectives and project requirements.

Read Conditions for project success

(Copyright: APM. Illustration from Body of Knowledge 6th edition 📖.)

8 Jun - 🕑 41 mins

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The evolving definition of project ‘success’

In this episode, hosted by Project journal online editor Mike Hine, our topic is project success, and how the definition of success is evolving to fit the challenges of the 2020s and beyond. At a time when the country is looking to build back better post-pandemic, projects will play a major role in determining the UK’s economic future. They are truly vital to the UK’s success on many fronts. But with so much riding on these projects, we need to ensure they succeed.

Historically, projects have notoriously struggled to hit their targets. So perhaps it’s time to revisit the very notion of project success. What constitutes a successful project? What are some of the most fundamental factors that underpin success? And has the project profession moved beyond the age-old metrics of time, cost and quality?


24 Mar - 🕑 42 mins

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Project Innovators: Bent Flyvbjerg on how to make your project a success

In this final episode of the Project Innovators season, Project journal editor Emma De Vita speaks to Bent Flyvbjerg, the first BT professor and inaugural chair of major programme management at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Bent is one of the big names from the world of project management. He works for the better management of megaprojects and this is the subject which we delve into here, from optimism bias when it comes to cost and benefits estimation to strategic misrepresentation by project champions (otherwise known as bending the truth to secure the go-ahead on a megaproject). The solution? In part, a technique called reference class forecasting.

Related reading

How can we hand over projects better?    RESOURCE   
How do we improve the transition of a project from the project team delivering in a project life cycle to the end ... read more

Benefits realisation management and its influence on project success and on the execution of business strategies    RESOURCE  
This article looks at the success rates of projects using benefits realisation management (BRM) practices in organisations surveyed in Brazil, the UK and the USA... read more

Benefits management: Lost or found in translation    RESOURCE  
This article looks at the spread of knowledge about benefits management and its adoption by organisations; the global development of benefits management... read more

Florence Duomo project (1420–1436): Learning best project management practice from history    RESOURCE  
This paper recounts the project managed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1420–36 to construct a dome for the newly built cathedral in Florence, Italy – an enormous technical challenge... read more

Social return on investment (SROI): A powerful tool for the realisation of benefits    RESOURCE  
APM Specific Interest Group white paper read more

From business case to benefits realisation: Theory and practice in UK government projects    RESOURCE  
In UK government Projects, HM Treasury Green Book and Five Case model provide a structured approach to making and appraising investment proposals.


Value and benefits    RESOURCE  
Why do we do projects? What are we trying to achieve? ... read more

Exploring how to design an effective survey on benefits management    RESOURCE  
This report constitutes the second output of a project to design a survey on benefits management (BM), initiated by the Specific Interest Group (SIG)... read more

Benefits management – an opportunity not just a process    BLOG  
Contrary to popular belief benefits management is more about organisations and their people than it is the projects invested in to enable the achievement of their business goals... read more

Designing an effective survey on benefits and value management    BLOG  
Beyond a handful of case studies, we don’t know how many nor what type of organisations in the UK are actively using formal benefits and value management methodologies... read more

How to make your project a success    BLOG  
We all want our projects to be successful and like to think they are when they have finally been completed but do we really know how to identify project success?... read more

How stakeholders define the real success of projects    BLOG  
The classical way of defining success criteria limit us sometimes to the traditional iron triangle of quality, cost and delivery... read more

Find resources to manage projects

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

You can read more about benefits management and project success in chapter one and four of the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition which is a foundational resource providing the concepts, functions and activities that make up professional project management. It reflects the developing profession, recognising project-based working at all levels, and across all sectors for influencers, decision makers, project professionals and their teams.

The seventh edition continues in the spirit of previous editions, collaborating with the project community to create a foundation for the successful delivery of projects, programmes and portfolios.

APM Body of Knowledge

APM Benefits and Value SIG

The Benefits and Value SIG (BV) is here to help members, the project management profession, and the public to enjoy successful projects.

APM Benefits and Value SIG

Could you be a project manager?

A good place to start is to visit our careers section; this provides you with the tools and resources to begin your project management journey.

APM Careers

Members of APM can learn more about benefits management on APM Learning.

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