When projects are designed and pitched, details of the desired benefits are generally set out in the Business Case. Unfortunately, for many organisations, this is where the benefits realisation process both begins and ends.
Why a centralised location is probably the most important part of benefit tracking and realisation
It’s high time that the benefits realisation approach changes, because by maintaining a focus on benefits long after the delivery celebration, the true success of a project becomes clear.
The trouble is that Project Managers are tasked with the delivery being successful, not the benefits. When their job is done, the table is set for benefits, but the dinner isn’t served yet because benefits (obviously) accrue when whatever the project has delivered and is operating in the real world.
Stakeholder groups, on the other hand, tend to focus on time, scope and budget during the project and lose sight of the benefits being delivered. After the project closes it’s on to the next thing.
All of which is just fine, except…what about those benefits, which should be the essential purpose of the project in the first instance? That’s right…everyone’s lost sight of them, whether being delivered (one certainly hopes) or not. The Business Case documents and benefit plans are left gathering dust in filing cabinets, or virtual cobwebs in local PC folders.
This highlights the necessity to put someone in charge of taking ownership of the benefits after the project closes and the PM rolls onto the next project. It’s at this point that traditional Project Management technology has let PMOs down. Which is why I’m pleased to tell you that it’s no longer necessary to rely on shaky memories of benefits. Instead, with Altus, we’ve introduced a central location for all project information. Yes, that includes all benefit information.
Project visibility and benefit realisation for Executives
Altus gives executives an even easier way to review previous projects, even once closed they can measure them against the intended benefits.
In the past, in the absence of the PM to advocate for them, it was generally difficult to make any assessment. What should be a 6-monthly review across all projects and all benefits, was more often an ad-hoc attempt by PMOs to scurry through old project documents and find anything of relevance relating to benefits. This is now no longer the case.
The major benefit (see what I did there… ) of a centralised location for all project information is easy reporting across all projects at a portfolio level. It’s at this level that Altus can start to show all past, current and future benefits.
Drawing on information maintained during the project life, we create a timeline of items with a tracking status and other details.
When each project closes, the information doesn’t die with them. Instead, Microsoft Project and reporting tools like PowerBI let all stakeholders review dashboards and even drill down into specific items, such as individual benefits, and interrogate them further.
Furthermore, if your PPM implementation is sufficiently mature and tracks financial benefits, we can even analyse the impact to organisational cash flow and financial forecasting. Processes to re-allocate benefits to BAU ‘owners’ will help with maintaining accountability, but the most important part of the benefit process is surely to ensure all benefits are maintained, reviewed and tracked until they are realised. A centralised tracking solution makes this happen with little to no administrative overhead.
To discuss benefit tracking in a PPM solution, or to find out some further information on reporting on benefits, even from closed projects, reach out to us – we’re always happy to chat.