A Good Question! How to Jumpstart with "Benefits Realization Lite"
During our May webinar (recorded here if you missed it) we had a number of questions submitted regarding benefits realization and training. In my next few posts, I will be answering a few of these questions.
Q: We have over 200 initiatives, of which 20 are large initiatives. We cannot afford to do business cases for all of these. How do we measure benefits realization if we don't have business cases for all initiatives?
A: Benefits realization management is the process whereby you identify, define, plan, track, and realize benefits. Most organizations do their identification and definition of the benefits they hope to achieve in the business case. However, it doesn’t have to be, as long as somewhere … somehow … you identify and define the benefits you hope to achieve, and then track them through the lifecycle until you achieve them.
So for your 20 large initiatives, I have to assume that you are doing these initiatives for a perceived value you hope to achieve. Typically, the goal of a project falls into one of three buckets:
- Transform the business (Vision/Future)
- On the Business (Improvement/Performance)
- In the Business (Revenue)
Regardless of which bucket these initiatives fall into, you need to know beforehand what success looks like for each one of them. “Success” should be measurable and you should plan how you will measure and track the results to determine if you have realized the benefits you were after.
As noted in our white paper, Optimize Strategy Execution by Planning-In Benefits Realization, we point out on pages 5 and 6 the Challenges of Benefits Realization: getting the right people in the room to support this new cultural change; performance measurement; and approaching benefits realization as a cultural change.
If you have neither the time nor the resources to implement a structured measurement program, you can keep it simple, and produce relatively accurate results. Use quantitative measures of where you currently are that you can defend (for instance, “30% of our projects are coming in late”). This determines your baseline. Then you want to have an idea of where you want to be after the completion of the initiative. (Let’s say the initiative is to implement a consistent project management methodology.) We want only 2% of projects coming in late. Our goal is to measure a 28% improvement over time. If you achieve that, you turn the results into dollars to tell the general impact of savings by being on time.
All without a business case! However, if you want to do this right, especially on critical initiatives, I can’t stress enough to think the project through using a business case to document your expectations, costs, resources, risks, and benefits. Good luck!