When firms embark upon changes, transformational initiatives, or simply arguing the case for investment, one of the essential aspects is determining the advantages and why the journey should be undertaken. What will be new and improved on the other side?
Criteria for Evaluation
Benefits management is critical because it not only defines what those benefits are and how they invariably affect the organization, but it also determines the cost drivers that will supply the benefit’s components. Importantly, it also specifies how a benefit will be assessed and the baseline against which it would be scored, avoiding later subjective argument. In certain circumstances, this measurement is straightforward: a $X investment in initiative Y yields a $X profitability. When things get a little more subjective, however, defining those limits and how you’ll measure them becomes critical. Spending $X on endeavor Y, for example, leads to a happier staff. What criteria do you use to evaluate this? Have you taken any measurements yet? Is everyone clear on what this means?
The duration over which the benefit will be realized is another crucial factor that must be carefully considered. This is especially important if there is little room for error in the timetables. It aids resource management by bolstering a project or program if it appears to be straying and failing to produce the intended value.
Management of Benefits Over Time
This nicely feeds into the organization’s broad benefits management strategy: how will they manage their benefits and the programs that achieve the outcomes that give those benefits? This is critical because it acknowledges the benefits management’s temporal dynamic. This means that the organizational context in which benefits are given can shift quickly at times. As a result, all benefits and the initiative results that produce them must be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are still the correct thing to do, that they will achieve what was initially intended, and that the benefit is still relevant.
This might be a challenging idea to grasp, mainly if the project or program producing the desired result is well-managed. It is feasible for a project to be completed within its performance, timing, and cost constraints but no longer provide the intended value due to contextual changes. The most important thing here is to recognize this, grasp it, and take action. They’ll still have a chance to give the benefit promptly this way.
In every organization, goals are shifted and revised over time. This is natural and expected. It just means that the role of benefits management can never be static. Over time, it must be kept up-to-date with new projects, changing times, evolving organizational needs, or any other factor that may shift the context in which benefits are created. Otherwise, organizations find themselves in unexpected situations where the value of their benefits is no longer as expected.
Practical Steps to Follow
So what can organizations do to make sure they are managing this dynamic?
Much of it comes down to methodologies for creating and reviewing benefits management over time. The crux is that benefits must be reviewed regularly, with feedback from the leaders who use them to ensure that the benefits management is still correct. It is also advisable, though not necessary, for others to review this process; it should be transparent and accessible so that issues can be raised on time.
This allows organizations to keep their benefits relevant over time, maximizing the chance of success on any initiative. Some other things can be done, though – ways to ensure that benefits management is practiced effectively in your organization. This includes:
Accounting for the full range of intended value on each benefit
For every benefit or result achieved by a project or program, organizations must consider all of its tangible and intangible aspects. Otherwise, they aren’t getting the complete picture and may make decisions based on false information.
Keep all staff in the loop on changes to benefits management
If a project is no longer providing the value it should, or if priorities in an organization change and the resources are adjusted accordingly, everyone needs to know this right away. Otherwise, people will be left in the dark and have a difficult time adjusting.
Have an open and transparent benefits management process
Be sure to keep your benefits management accessible to everyone in your organization so that feedback can be garnered from all levels on how well it is working, what needs improvement, or where there are other issues with its implementation.
Keep up-to-date documents on benefits
Keep a document on hand for each benefit your organization is currently using. This includes all of the information you have about it: how it was created, why it will be helpful to the organization, what its intended effects are, and so forth. Also, keep track of who in the organization is receiving this benefit and how they are receiving it.
The third benefit management notion to examine is that an organization may have a strategic benefit that does not vary, which is related to the temporal aspect of the context in which outcomes are given. However, it should be noted that they may need to undertake projects or programs to maintain that benefit over time. One example is air superiority for an air force; in the 1940s, the P-51 Mustang was one of the primary contributors to the USAF achieving this. Nonetheless, if the USAF had not continued to invest in this capacity through new initiatives, Spitfires would still be up against far more advanced and clever adversaries. Yes, this is a simplistic example, but it emphasizes the importance of reviewing benefits on a regular basis as part of any organization’s management cycle.
This is an essential aspect of our project delivery process; we collaborate extensively with business and technical stakeholders throughout a project to ensure that it provides the benefits that the organization requires, whatever the final product is.
If you’d like to talk about how we can help your organization, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.