Identifying Benefits

Why spend time and effort identifying benefits?

By identifying benefits at the beginning of the project you can focus on benefits-led change. With benefits-led change what you do is driven by a clear understanding of what needs to be realised. The benefits are the answer to why a project should be undertaken or not, and will help to avoid the tendency of identifying what we want and then work out why we want it.

While benefits management is normally discussed in the context of portfolio and programme management, at the project level we need to understand what capability is required to achieve the needed outcomes and realise benefits. When we understand what capability is needed then we can go about defining the most appropriate product or service (outcome) that is needed

By carrying out the benefits analysis and mapping you gain an additional advantage. You get a clearer overview of what and how your operations staff will need to change in their daily work.

What do we mean by benefits and dis-benefits?
At a high level benefits can be improvements in the economic status, efficiency or effectiveness of an organisation. Most projects will have an impact on one or more of these high level benefits, the impact can be positive or negative.

Tip: Each benefit document should contain the following information :

Benefit description:
The description should be clear and understandable to the business unit that will enjoy the benefit. It is also useful to group benefits into categories.

Observable outcomes:
What are the verifiable changes that will be noticed between the pre-project situation and the post-project situation?

Measurement: How will we be able to confirm that the benefits has been realised?

Benefit responsibility:
The person or department who is accountable and responsible for ensuring the benefit realised during or after the project. It is important that this responsibility lies with the business/operational unit(s) affected.

Benefits Map

Read this diagram from right to left, starting with the end in mind. At this stage you will be able to identify the Goal, Critical Success Factors, the needed benefits. You may start to formulate ideas as to what outcomes (Changes in how the team works with the new capability) and capability are needed. These will be further developed during the discovery and design processes.
Benefits Map showing the link from strategic objectives to project initiatives