Over in our Facebook group I asked what templates people would like me to create and Denise said a simple
In this article:
My thoughts are:
- Benefits should be documented in the business case.
- The project manager’s job is to make sure the business can achieve the benefits by delivering the enablers and business change required including a way of tracking benefits e.g. new reports etc
- The business owner is responsible for tracking benefits after the project has closed, accountable to their line management structure i.e. for making sure people use whatever was delivered for them to the best of their ability to get the benefits.
- Only track benefits for a short period after the project. Consider when a “benefit” becomes “just the way we do business round here”. You can’t seriously track product sales as a benefit 5 years after the product was launched. At some point, benefits turn into normal expectations. This is probably in the next financial year after the benefit starts taking effect – track it until the end of the financial year, and then the new improved position becomes part of the baseline expectations for next year.
Things are a bit different in a program, where projects may start to deliver benefits before the program is completed. The program team may take on benefits tracking too, while the program is running.
To help with all this, I’ve created a simple
What is a
Benefits Management Plan?
- what benefits you can expect from the project
benefits managementapproach i.e. how you are going to ensure the benefits are created
- who owns them
- how you measure the expected benefits, for tangible and intangible benefits
- what is required to achieve them.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require you to spend some time thinking about the types of benefit this project will create and how they are going to be achieved.
Tip: Pay particular attention to naming the people (or roles) who are going to be the benefit owners. It’s an odd kind of job and what it means is that people are held accountable for getting something out of what you are delivering. They may feel they don’t have enough control over the process to be held accountable in that way, and you may not get people volunteering to take on this role. At least, that’s been my experience.
The benefits chain
The benefits chain is simply how your project benefits link to the end result that the company wants. You can see it in the picture below. The project’s outputs feed into the business change which should drive the desired outcomes. Then those are added together with the benefits gained from other projects.
Disbenefits are taken off, and when the whole thing is complete you end up with the end benefits which should give you the strategic objective that was being aimed for in the first place. Altogether, this gives you a kind of benefits map of where benefits are coming from and which projects are driving the strategic objectives (which in turn should feed into project prioritization).
You don’t have to have all these pieces documented in the
The Slideshare below has some helpful thoughts on drawing information from the business case on what the benefit is and how it can be achieved. You might also find some mentioned in the project charter.
Ultimately, the information on project benefits should come from the business case, but it’s not always that straightforward – in real life some projects get started without having a business case! Gather the relevant information from all the business areas affected by the project. Make sure you talk to the change managers, if you have them — they always have an interesting take on what benefits will be.
Remember to capture disbenefits in the plan as well. These are things that have a negative impact on your ability to hit the strategic goals. Your project might not have any, but if it does, let’s be clear about them.
If that sounds like your workplace, then you can still get some value from your projects – you just need to wrap the thinking about benefits into the work you are doing.
How to Use the
Benefits Management Plan Template [Word version]
The template is in the project management resource library. If you already get my regular newsletter, you’ll find the password for the resource library at the bottom.
If you don’t yet have access, sign up below. Once you’ve got the password, you will find all the templates, including the
The first step is obviously to download the project template. Pop your details in the box below to get the link to the resource library, then navigate to the Planning section in the resource library to grab the Word document.
Next, change the logo to your company logo (or none).
Update the headers and footers to be what you want them to say. I would include the project name, the document owner’s name, and the date and version number. Check out my guide to version control for documents if you aren’t sure how to start with that.
Fill in the content, using the benefits realization examples I’ve included in the template as a guide for what to say. Your key deliverables will give you suggestions for where the benefits are coming from.
Delete my example benefit and the notes – they are for your benefit only, so no need to keep them in. I am a big believer in making documents as short as possible, so delete what you don’t need! Successful projects don’t need reams of documentation, only the right documentation, and benefits realization planning is no different.
Share the document with your team, and then manage your benefits according to your plan. You’ll want to plan to go back to this document regularly, for example at end of stage review time and when you move the project into a new phase.
- Download the template? You did that already? Good!
- Read this article on decision making on projects to get some prompts for how to have conversations that lead to you actually being able to document some decisions about benefits.
- Fill it in and run it past your senior user, project sponsor, project board and the rest of the team.
- Build in the required activities to your project schedule so you have people allocated to work on the tasks required to make sure the benefits actually get delivered.
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