GPM First
Chapter 31 of Benefit Realisation Management (978-1-4094-0094-3) by Gerald Bradley

In a Nutshell


‘You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.’

(Zig Ziglar)

‘The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin


(W. M. Lewis)

Critical Actions Summarised

So where do we go from here? Listed below are 20 critical actions which summarise the key messages of this book. Although all are important, applying any one of them should enable you to move forward on a voyage of discovery and success.


1. Apply BRM to increase Programme and Project Success

BRM is not simply about identifying and tracking a few benefits. It is a flexible and active process for:

  • setting strategy and direction;

  • creating a shared vision or end goal;

  • determining and managing change;

  • engaging and motivating stakeholders;

  • managing risks;

  • achieving success.



2. Start with the ‘End in View’

Don’t start out without knowing where you are going, and ensure that the destination is of real value to the organisation and/or its customers. Both private and public sectors are plagued with the ‘cart before the horse’ mentality – projects which design and build solutions and then look for benefits to justify the investment. Begin with a vision or end goal congruent with the organisation’s strategy and then determine how it can best be achieved.


3. Engage Stakeholders

It is vital to engage stakeholders throughout the change life-cycle and from the earliest possible stage, because:

  • their knowledge and ideas will usually improve the quality of the end goal and the plan to achieving it;

  • they can often throw a spanner in the works;

  • benefit realisation and programme success will be dependent on business change within many of the stakeholder areas;

  • they can become champions of change and ambassadors of success.



4. Align and Balance the Change Portfolio

The portfolio of change investments must be actively managed to ensure that, in a changing world, it remains aligned to the organisation’s strategy and direction. The portfolio should be balanced in terms of:

  • business impact;

  • risk;

  • reward;

  • complexity;

  • extent of business change – for each stakeholder;

  • resource and funding requirements.



5. Identify a Comprehensive Set of Benefits

Use several different techniques with a good cross-section of stakeholders to determine a comprehensive set of benefits. For a large programme or for one of long duration this could result in 25-100 benefits. This may seem far too many, yet without identifying and managing a full set of benefits it is difficult to be effective in:

  • motivating stakeholders;

  • determining and driving the change agenda;

  • monitoring progress over the whole change life-cycle – perhaps several years;

  • realising the end benefits and ultimately the vision;

  • attributing success to the programme.



6. Map the Route to Success

Maps provide the best visual representation of the route to the end goal, linking key entities in cause-and-effect relationships. Three forms are recommended:

  • At the highest level – Strategy Maps linking objectives;

  • Benefits Maps linking benefits to one another and where appropriate to one or more of the objectives;

  • Benefit Dependency Maps (BDMs) – the result of adding dependencies to a Benefits Map, especially required enablers and business changes.


Maps are particularly useful for:

  • handling multiple relationships;

  • communicating – aspirations, intentions and progress;

  • reducing ambiguity and misunderstanding.



7. Measure to Encourage the Desired Behaviour

Since measurement can be time consuming and costly it must have purpose. Its primary purpose should be that it leads to action. So it is important that the choice of measures and targets encourages desired behaviours and ultimately genuine realisation of the expected benefits.

Wherever possible measurement should be undertaken by those who are the most anxious to achieve the benefits.

The use of a Measures Dictionary avoids wasteful duplication of measurement and provides a cohesive higher-level view, which will also provide early warning of benefit overclaiming.


8. Use Maps to Determine Required Changes

Since the primary purpose of change is benefit realisation, benefits, and in particular Benefits Maps, should be the starting point for identifying and adding the dependent changes. The paths of the resulting maps (BDMs) can be weighted, working right to left, to give scores to the benefits and the changes, thus providing a mechanism for prioritising investment in change.


9. Blueprint the Future State

The model of the intended new business state, showing how the proposed enablers will integrate with the required business change to generate the intermediate benefits and ultimately deliver the vision, is called a Blueprint. The Blueprint will evolve and develop through the early stages of the change life-cycle as detail is added.

The Blueprint is the single comprehensive source of information about the future state of the organisation necessary to achieve the vision and could be referred to as the Solution. It needs to be of high quality and owned by the affected stakeholders as it is the basis for other key documents such as Requirement Specifications, ITTs and Supplier Contracts.


10. Structure the Programme to Manage Business Change

Successfully implementing the Blueprint is vital for the realisation of benefits and ultimately for programme success. This frequently requires business change from stakeholders outside the direct control or influence of the programme, it is therefore important that the programme is structured to facilitate this challenge.

Implementing business change requires at least the same dedication and meticulous care as the implementation of the enablers.


11. Use BRM to Identify and Manage Risks

The ultimate risk in any change initiative is the risk of non-realisation of benefits and the non-fulfilment of the vision. So the maps, particularly the BDM, provide a very relevant framework for identifying and assessing impact of risks.


12. Focus Governance on Benefit Realisation

The governance structure should both support and challenge the Programme Team. Its focus should be on benefit realisation and all other considerations should be driven by this emphasis. In this sense the Benefit Facilitator role is part of the governance structure.

Too often governance concentrates on cost management and procurement issues to the detriment of benefit realisation.


13. Optimise the Solution

Optimisation, focused primarily on benefit realisation, runs throughout the whole BRM process. Particular opportunities include:

  • using weighted paths in the Strategy Map to determine the optimal bounding objectives;

  • considering the portfolio of existing investments when selecting and approving additional initiatives, in order to optimise the whole portfolio;

  • selecting highly weighted paths (‘super highways’) from the Benefits Map in order to optimise the route to the achievement of the vision;

  • starting from a set of BDMs, designing an optimal Blueprint, to maximise realised benefits relative to cost and risk;

  • partnering with stakeholders throughout the life-cycle to optimise their support and contribution;

  • implementing the designed solution (Blueprint), in particular roll-out sequence, to optimise benefit achievement;

  • responding rapidly with appropriate actions if and when shortfalls in benefit achievement occur.



14. Avoid Giving Financial values to Non-Cashable Benefits

While recognising the need to justify investment proposals, we advise against giving non-financial (non-cashable) benefits pseudo-financial values, for the following reasons:

  • it distorts the truth;

  • it leads to double counting;

  • it can lead to loss of support from stakeholders;

  • it usually results in non-optimal solutions.



15. Track Benefits in Order to Drive Action

Tracking benefits is a form of intelligence gathering. This intelligence should be used to influence decision making and so determine and drive future actions. Identify and learn lessons, but use the information to look forwards and not backwards.

Report the information to those who can take action – generally those with the greatest interest in the realisation of the particular benefit. This may involve reporting different information to different stakeholders.


16. Report Benefits to Publicise Success

The primary purpose for benefit reporting is to drive action; however, an important secondary purpose is to encourage and motivate stakeholders by publicising success.


17. Reward Benefit Realisation

For many years now people have been rewarded for building enablers to time, cost and quality. It is high time that benefit realisation is similarly rewarded.


18. Create a Supportive Environment

To enable BRM to make the best contribution to business performance, a supportive environment is required, including:

  • a supportive culture;

  • an enlightened view of non-financial benefits;

  • integration with other initiative and methodologies;

  • establishment of a Benefit Facilitator role;

  • software to support the process.



19. Sow Seeds to Begin to Change the Culture

Start now to sow seeds to change the culture. As an initial step, when asked about the benefits expected from a particular enabler – say none – and then explain the fried egg principle.


20. Start where you can

Initially the complete BRM approach may seem too much. So start where it is most needed, then extend its application to where it is possible and continue until you find you are doing the impossible.

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