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What is Benefits Realisation?

Projects don't end with a 'technical' delivery and a closure report

~ By Duncan Haughey

Businessman showing a lot of coins in his hands

You've delivered your project on time, within budget, the customer has signed it off and you've completed your end project report. The end! You've finished the project, time to move on, right? No. You can't expect the benefits automatically to drop out of your project with no effort.

Successful Delivery But No Benefits

Companies spend millions of pounds on projects that never get finished. Often, the reason has nothing to do with the quality of the deliverable. More likely there is not the time, energy or enthusiasm to make sure the product or service is adopted and embedded in the organisation. Often, it is because the next big, more exciting project comes along to distract us.

Have you ever delivered a 'successful' project, only to find out later the product or service was never used or implemented. It's not a good feeling. So what can you do about it? Benefits Realisation is the answer.

Active Benefits Realisation

As the project manager, you are in a unique position to help your customer gain the benefits detailed in the business case. It can be another phase once you have closed the project, or run as part of the project itself. It may not follow directly from the project end. Instead, it can start after a short period, before the post implementation review, which typically takes place three to six months after the project finishes.

Opinion seems divided on whether active Benefits Realisation is the domain of the Project Manager. The truth is that many projects declared a success, never deliver the benefit or result initially envisaged.

The project manager's role in driving benefits out of projects involves working closely with the customer to ensure the product or service gets firmly adopted and embedded in the organisation. You and your team may play a part in:

  • Carrying out demonstrations and presentations
  • Delivering workshops and training
  • Preparing marketing materials
  • Organising product and service launches
  • Arranging and chairing meetings
  • Finding creative solutions to problems
  • Championing the cause
  • Driving change

To gain benefits, you must have change. In their book The Information Paradox, John Thorp and DMR's Centre for Strategic Leadership, say 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.

John Thorp and DMR's Centre for Strategic Leadership

Changing the way people think, work and manage is not an easy task, but without it, your project is in danger of joining a long list of successful project deliveries that were never rolled out. So, don't let your projects deliver and die, ensure the benefits envisaged at the start are realised at the end.


To learn more about Benefits Realisation & how it can help you deliver successful projects read Benefits Realisation: What is it and how can it help me?


Comments (3)

Topic: What is Benefits Realisation?
4/5 (3)
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11th October 2015 10:34pm
Javier (Auckland) says...
Good points. As I usually explain my mentees, "the objective is what we are targeting to achieve, what keep us going, our goal. The output is what we deliver, the delivered product/result/service. The outcome is what the business gains from our outputs, eventually an improved efficiency, reduced costs, increased revenues, or a mix of them".

So, naturally, to succeed, every objective in our projects should be aligned to one or more of these outcomes, if not, what are we aiming for?
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22nd January 2015 8:31am
Neil White (Waterlooville) says...
You are essentially right Jim, but at the heart of a change project is the 'business case' where the argument for change is made. Organisations must consider many factors when deciding whether to invest in change and while the benefits should be the central driver, the decision to proceed may take into account wider organisational 'values'. The five case approach to business case development forces such wider consideration:

  • Strategic Case
  • Economic Case
  • Commercial Case
  • Financial Case
  • Management Case

Cheers, Neil

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14th November 2014 10:30pm
Jim Young (Lower Hutt) says...
A project is quite simply a benefits led initiative.

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