Developing Your Benefits Realization Plan

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Is it possible to deliver a project on time, on budget, and to scope and still have an unsuccessful project?

Now more than ever, the answer is yes – because today’s projects are all about benefits and value.

A benefit is an outcome or a result from actions, behaviors, products or services that are important or advantageous to specific individuals or groups, such as stakeholders. The value of the project is what the benefits are worth to someone, typically in monetary terms. And managing those benefits, meaning making sure they’re delivered, is called benefits realization management.

The Benefits Realization Plan (BRP) is an instrumental part of benefits realization management. What’s that and what does it include? Let’s take a look.

The Business Realization Plan (BRP):

  • Documents all the activities the team is going to complete to achieve the planned benefits
  • Provides a timeline for when the benefits are going to be delivered, and outlines who’s responsible for getting the job done
  • Most importantly, it describes how those benefits are going to be sustained over the long run

Some suggested topics you should include in the plan:

  • The purpose of the project
  • The benefits to be delivered
  • How each benefit will be measured
  • Roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders
  • The schedule for delivering the benefits
  • Any changes to systems and processes
  • How the benefits will be transitioned and sustained by the organization

Right about now you might be thinking, isn’t project management loaded with enough plans? Do I really have to prepare yet another plan?

The answer is yes, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be as bureaucratic or time-consuming as it sounds.

To give you a head start, here are my five tips for developing the BRP.

Tip No. 1
Use the business case as a point of departure. It contains a lot of useful information about the need and justification for the project.

Tip No. 2
Interview your key stakeholders. Make sure you understand what they’re expecting when the project is done. After all, they’re the folks who decide whether the project was successful or not.

Tip No. 3
Gather as many good ideas and suggestions as you can about the whole benefits process by tapping into the minds of your stakeholders using techniques like brainstorming sessions, focus groups, and other approaches. People want to help and be engaged. Give them every opportunity to do so.

Tip No. 4
Do everything humanly, and inhumanly, possible to get the sponsor involved. PMI research shows that an actively engaged sponsor is the top driver of project success.

Tip No. 5
Make sure you put the benefits in writing and get the appropriate people to approve them. It’s not YOUR project, it’s THEIR Project; it’s their benefits.

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.

5 Resolutions PMO Directors Should Make for 2017

By J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, GWCPM, SCPM   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Many people hate resolutions, and in fact, “resolve” not to make them. But resolutions can help give us a direction for the coming year; at the very least, they can make us think about what we want to accomplish.

So, with that in mind, here are five areas that PMO Directors should think hard about for 2017.

  1. Establish, and keep everyone focused on, key project performance metrics

Project Management Offices (PMOs) exist largely to improve project performance in an organization.  So, their worth, or value, is directly tied to how well projects get done. And the only way to know if performance is improving year over year is get the right metrics in place and monitor them constantly.  It’s not the quantity of metrics you use, it’s their quality. Sure, you may be using time, cost and scope, but there are certainly others that can tell the real story of improvement. If you can nail these, you stand a good chance of surviving in a world where the PMO mortality rate is quite high.

  1. Beat the “business value” drum loudly and often by zeroing in on benefits realization.

Projects matter. That’s why organizations spend precious time and money doing them. And they do them for the ultimate benefits they are (or should be) designed to deliver. What good is implementing a new CRM system if the sales people don’t use it? It’s not the deliverable that counts; it’s the end result. As you are reviewing project proposals and overseeing execution of critical projects, keep your eye on what the outcome of the project should be—not what deliverables are produced. Keep asking questions regarding outcomes, and your project managers, and others, will get the message. When you deliver benefits, you deliver value.

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  1. Keep an eye on how politics can up-end your portfolio and be ready for change.

Brexit and Trump. These two dynamics alone will inevitably cause most organizations to review and reassess how they’re going to do business in the coming years. And that reassessment will result in portfolio reviews with current projects being terminated and new ones created, and quickly. PMO Directors need to be ready for abrupt change: change in direction, change in leadership, and change in project mixes. Will possible financial deregulation cause the need for additional projects? Of course. Will Brexit’s trade and immigration impacts have companies scrambling to change their practices? You bet.

  1. Be the “center of innovation” in projects.

Innovation: it’s an overused and jaded term but it’s never been more important to organizations today. Business models in many industries are quickly fading into irrelevance, and organizations are struggling to survive in light of massive global and technological change. General Electric now bills itself as the leader of a digital industrial transformation with an outpost in Silicon Valley to tap into that rich technological ecosystem. Digital transformation is everywhere. Where’s the innovation in your projects? As PMO Director, search and advocate for those projects that don’t just “keep the lights on,” but illuminate new ways of doing things and that create new products that customers will clamor for.

  1. “Lead the Charge” in Agile

 The Agile “bandwagon” is one you may (and probably should) jump on, and fast. Agile is not a fad. It’s here to stay. It’s evolving from an IT-focused approach to getting work done to one used to build cars, jet fighters, and influence clients through more effective marketing approaches. In other words, it is a way of getting work done that can be applied wherever projects exist. PMO Directors need to lead the charge in Agile.  Help your organization understand its potential, hire the right coaches to work on the right projects, have people trained, decide on the right metrics and get down to business. Standing by while others take the lead diminishes your role in the organization. There’s no faster way to value—for you, your PMO, and the company—than making Agile a part of how work gets done.

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LeRoy Ward

J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.