This video describes the purpose of the business benefits realization plan, when it should be created, who should contribute to the population of the document, and the information recorded in this document.
- Understanding the importance of the benefits realization is essential. If you as the project professional don't understand them, how do you think you'll ever get your senior stakeholders and anyone else involved in your project for that matter to achieve their organizational goals. The purpose of putting all your benefits realization information from your baseline data independencies to your roadmap into an actual plan, is to have it all in one easily referenced place. A living document that's referred to beyond the project life-cycle to ensure that your project really does achieve what it set out to achieve.
Creating a business benefits realization plan is worth the effort. I admit, it's often considered the poor cousin in the project planning process but once you get a handle on why it's important, the benefits realization plan will become one of the most valuable project tools in your kit. The business benefits realization plan is the best way I know to really articulate the expected outcomes of your project. So now's the time to take what you already know of the benefits roadmap process, which we've already discussed, and turn the expected benefits into reality.
I like to think of benefits realization plans as if you're starting someone off on a holiday. You put them in their vehicle, make sure they know where they are going, and then give them some specific directions of how to get there and the sights to see out for one way to ensuring they're going the right direction towards their destination. Business benefit realization plans are made up of several crucial elements. If you get them right, your benefits plan will be workable, manageable, and measurable.
Not to mention a benefit to your organization. First up, are the benefits themselves. These are the stars of the show. Think about the type of benefits you are identifying. Are they financial? Are they more holistic for the organization such as reputational benefit? Are they disbenefits that result in losing staff? The task of identifying all of a project's benefits is important to get right at the start of your project.
Once a project gets under steam, it's often hard to take the time to define the benefits. Also, getting senior stakeholders to develop and own the benefits of a project from the get-go means that they will have skin in the game. When you're starting the benefits conversation in your organization, make sure the benefits are as SMART as possible. Prod your stakeholders to write down benefits that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
I've been involved in projects where senior stakeholders brag that their projects would deliver bigger, better, and faster benefits. The question is how much bigger? How much better? How much faster? Hold firm and make sure your senior stakeholders be smarter about their benefits. After all, achieving real outcomes that make a difference to an organization is why we do projects. Once you have a written list of benefits, you need to consider how they'll be measured.
This often takes some analysis to ensure that the necessary baseline data is available in the organization. Is the data credible and can it be provided consistently over a period of time? It's important to remember that some benefits may not be realized for years to come long after your project is closed. That's why it's vital that you get a senior stakeholder to take ownership of the benefits realization plan. Let them know how you're going to track benefits and who's responsible for the measurement and reporting of the benefits.
I always recommend using a RACI chart at this point in your benefits realization plan to outline who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed in the measurement and reporting process. A RACI is an easy to understand picture of the expectations of each of your key stakeholders. Plug it into your plan so that everyone has visibility of the project's expected outcomes. When you're writing your business benefits realization plan, remember the benefits are dynamic and they need to be monitored and observed, particularly where there are disbenefits like the full-time employee losses and any additional benefits.
Make the review of the your completed benefits plan a task in your project plan and schedule. This way you can keep your finger on the pulse, and still manage any threats to the good that your project will deliver for your organization.
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- Creating a business benefits roadmap
- Establishing a realization plan
- Monitoring business benefits
- Reporting results