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It's 2017: Resolve to Implement Benefits Realization Management

Posted by Deborah Bigelow Crawford

Deborah Bigelow Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in business management and handles the operational and administrative functions of PM Solutions. Ms. Bigelow Crawford also serves as President of the PM College®, PM Solutions' training division, where she is responsible for the fiscal management and quality assurance of all training and professional development programs. Prior to joining PM Solutions, she served as the Executive Director of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and was instrumental in providing the foundation and infrastructure for the exponential growth that the Institute has maintained over the last 10 years. In addition, she served as the Executive Director of the PMI Educational Foundation. Over the last decade, she has authored numerous articles in PM Network, Chief Project Officer, and Optimize magazines. Ms. Bigelow Crawford is also co-author of the book Project Management Essentials. She has presented a variety of papers as a speaker at international symposia and conferences, and is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the Project Management Institute.

I just love the fresh start of a New Year!  For those of you who are setting their professional resolutions, I’d love to offer a suggestion:  Now is the time to commit to  optimizing the benefits projected in the business case of your projects.  This is a critical new goal for any project manager. But how do you start??  A big first step is to understand what all the “hype” about benefits realization is!  Benefits Realization really isn’t rocket science … but it is something that you need to integrate into your project management process.  PM Solutions has written a fantastic white paper that simplifies benefits realization, starting at strategy formulation through the actual implementation during your project management processes.

Once you read the white paper and begin to understand how integrated benefits realization is within the full business life cycle, it might be time to take a look at where your organization currently stands in terms of optimizing projected benefits of its approved projects.  Again, PM Solutions is developing a diagnostic tool that you can test, and let PM Solutions score your results so you can evaluate where to start.

You may be saying to yourself, “I’m just a project manager…how can I influence my organization to adopt a benefits realization program?”.  I assure you …. you can! Top research organizations like Gartner have statistics to show that organizations are missing the boat when it comes to optimizing the benefits they could be seeing from their projects.  They pinpointed a major cause of the poor organizational performance was the “failure of organizations to adopt a discipline to maximize the business value of projects and investments.”  PMI has jumped on this bandwagon as wel,l and states that $122 million is wasted for every $1billion invested.  Show these articles to your management and see if you get their attention! 

Even without management buy-in, as a project manager, you can start right away.  The first thing you have to look at is merging benefits realization into existing project management processes.  This doesn’t need to be a complicated new add-on.  Really, it is a matter of just integrating a few new tools into your existing project management processes and changing your focus …. that is, not just focusing on making sure you are on time, budget, and within scope, but more on achieving the benefits that were initially envisioned.

Improving overall competency also contributes to realizing benefits.  If we can build project manager and project contributor capability, we increase employee engagement, which improves project outcomes of all types.

We also need to shift the focus on what success means.  Just as project management shifted its focus a few years ago onto the importance of stakeholder management in all phases of projects, now the required shift is toward the desired project outcomes. This will mean not only changes in some work processes, but more importantly a cultural change in the way we think about what “success” means for projects.

So, take the benefits realization diagnostic, read the white paper, and then you should have an idea on HOW you can start tracking benefits now.  With the new year, you are developing or tweeking your strategic plans and approving 2017s projects.  Just make sure those plans and projects have documented benefits, and that you’ve followed a process to track and realize them!  Your 2017 professional resolution is attainable!

[Editor's Note: Debbie is too modest; she didn't tell you about her terrific webinar based on this white paper. View the recorded presentation here. And Happy New Year!]

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