business case vs benefits management plan pmp

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Business Case vs Benefits Management Plan

A business case and a benefits management plan are two important documents that a project manager must prepare before starting any project. although both documents are related to the project, they serve different purposes..

business case vs benefits management plan pmp

Business Case

A Business Case is a document that outlines the justification for starting a project. It provides a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of the project, along with an assessment of the risks and opportunities. The Business Case is typically prepared by the project sponsor or the business owner, and it is used to obtain funding and support for the project.

business case vs benefits management plan pmp

Benefits Management Plan

The Benefits Management Plan, on the other hand, is a document that outlines the approach to be taken to realize the benefits of the project. It provides a detailed plan for measuring and tracking the benefits, along with the responsibilities of the project team and the stakeholders. The Benefits Management Plan is typically prepared by the project manager or the benefits manager, and it is used to ensure that the benefits of the project are realized.

The main differences between a Business Case and a Benefits Management Plan are as follows:

The main purpose of the Business Case is to justify the need for the project and to obtain funding and support for it. The main purpose of the Benefits Management Plan is to ensure that the benefits of the project are realized.

The Business Case typically includes an executive summary, an overview of the business problem or opportunity, an analysis of the costs and benefits of the project, an assessment of the risks and opportunities, and a recommendation to proceed or not. The Benefits Management Plan typically includes a description of the benefits to be realized, a benefits map, a benefits realization plan, a benefits tracking plan, and a benefits management and governance plan.

Authorship:

The Business Case is typically prepared by the project sponsor or the business owner. The Benefits Management Plan is typically prepared by the project manager or the benefits manager.

The Business Case is typically prepared at the beginning of the project, before any work has been done. The Benefits Management Plan is typically prepared during the planning phase of the project, after the Business Case has been approved.

The Business Case is typically presented to senior management, stakeholders, and funding bodies. The Benefits Management Plan is typically presented to the project team, the benefits owner, and the stakeholders.

In conclusion, a Business Case and a Benefits Management Plan are two important documents that serve different purposes in a project. The Business Case is used to justify the need for the project and to obtain funding and support for it. The Benefits Management Plan is used to ensure that the benefits of the project are realized. Both documents are important for the success of the project, and they should be prepared carefully and reviewed regularly throughout the project lifecycle.

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Project Benefits Management Plan for Benefits Realization and Sustenance

  • On January 31, 2024
  • By David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

Project Benefits Management Plan

Every project is initiated to realize benefits. These benefits which could be tangible or intangible must be defined and measured.

Whatever the desired benefits are, realizing them requires strategic and proper planning, especially with increasing project complexity.

Without proper planning, projects risk failure to meet objectives. However, with the right plan project teams can deliver measurable improvements.

To ensure benefits realization, an effective project benefits management plan is required. This plan outlines how the expected business benefits will be achieved and defines the path to business value.

In this article, we explain the concept of benefits management in project management, the role of a project benefits management plan in benefits realization, and how to create one.

Table of Contents

What is Benefits Management in Project Management?

Benefits management is the process of defining, measuring, and achieving the business benefits resulting from project deliverables.

Benefits management focuses on realizing tangible and intangible improvements that provide value to stakeholders.

Effective benefits management aligns project outcomes with organizational strategy and objectives, and establishes clear metrics and success criteria for benefits. This drives project prioritization based on potential business impact.

Key activities in benefits management include:

  • Identifying potential benefits during project initiation and planning using techniques like value engineering.
  • Defining benefit owners responsible for achieving each benefit.
  • Developing measures and tracking mechanisms for both financial and non-financial benefits.
  • Creating benefit realization plans detailing how and when benefits will be achieved.
  • Monitoring and controlling benefits during project execution to ensure successful delivery.
  • Validating that benefits are realized and sustaining them during project closure.

What is a Benefits Management Plan

What is a Benefits Management Plan?

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide 6th Edition describes the project benefits management plan as “A document that describes how and when the benefits of the project will be delivered, and describes the mechanisms that should be in place to measure those benefits.”

It identifies the tangible and intangible benefits expected from the project and defines each benefit along with metrics to track its achievement, as well as the owners assigned to each of them.

The benefits management plan should be developed early in the project lifecycle and revisited and refined through execution to ensure the benefits are on track and improve clarity on the value to be delivered.

The goal of the benefits management plan is to enable you to gain alignment between the project and business needs which ultimately translates into improved bottom-line results.

A benefits management plan details:

  • The timeline for achieving benefits, including short, medium, and long term.
  • Baseline metrics to compare improvements against.
  • Risks that could impact benefits delivery with mitigation approaches.
  • Dependencies between benefits as well as linkages to project deliverables.
  • Governance structures for benefits oversight and decision-making.
  • Communications strategy to inform stakeholders of progress.
  • Transition plans for handing over sustained benefits after project closure.

When is the Benefits Management Plan Created

When is the Benefits Management Plan Created?

The benefits management plan is typically created prior to project initiation during the initial high-level planning phases of a project.

It is created after the project scope and key deliverables have been defined, but before detailed planning and execution begins.

The goal is to establish an early understanding of the intended benefits of the project so they can be tracked and influence future project decisions.

You should draft an initial benefits management plan before too many resources are committed to the project.

This allows you to confirm alignment around the reasons for undertaking the project and helps identify any changes needed to the project scope . The plan is then revised and expanded as the project progresses through its life cycle.

It becomes a living document that is reviewed and updated at key points such as after project deliverables, at stage gates , or when significant changes occur.

How to Write a Benefits Management Plan

How to Write a Benefits Management Plan

To develop an effective project benefits management plan, follow these key steps :

1. Identify Benefits and Metrics

  • Gather inputs from the business case, project charter, and stakeholders to determine expected improvements from the project.
  • Define both tangible and intangible benefits like cost reductions, increased capacity, and improved customer satisfaction.
  • Establish success criteria and metrics for each benefit to objectively measure performance.

2. Assign Benefit Owners

  • Determine benefit owners responsible for achieving each benefit and obtain buy-in from them.
  • Define their role in the execution, measurement, and sustainability of the benefit.

3. Outline Realization Plan

  • Develop benefit realization plans describing how and when each benefit will be achieved.
  • Link benefits delivery to project milestones, deliverables, and timelines.
  • Identify risks and mitigation strategies.

4. Establish Governance and Reporting

  • Determine governance structure and frequency of reviews for benefit monitoring.
  • Create templates and schedules for benefit status reporting and tracking progress.

5. Update Through the Project Lifecycle

  • Continuously update the benefits management plan as more clarity emerges through project planning and execution.
  • Refine measures, owners, timelines, and risks as needed.

Key Elements of a Project Benefits Management Plan

Key Elements of a Project Benefits Management Plan

A benefits management plan in project management should include the following:

1. Benefit Profiles

The benefits management plan should outline each expected benefit from the project and categorize them (e.g. tangible, intangible).

The success criteria and metrics to track achievement should be defined, and benefit owners responsible for realizing each benefit should be assigned.

2. Benefit Realization Plans

These plans describe how and when each benefit will be achieved. They link benefit delivery to specific project milestones and deliverables and outline the activities, resources, and timelines required to realize the benefits.

3. Risk Management

The benefits management plan should include identified and assessed risks that could impact successful benefit delivery, and mitigation strategies for high-priority risks.

4. Financial Analysis

Estimates of the financial value and required costs for each benefit along with calculated metrics like benefit-cost ratio and return on investment.

5. Governance Structure

This establishes clear roles and responsibilities for benefits oversight and the frequency of benefits reviews and reporting mechanisms.

6. Transition Planning

This details handover actions to transfer benefits to owners post-project and sustainment activities for benefits after closure are defined.

What is the Difference Between a Business Case and a Benefits Management Plan?

The business case and benefits management plan are key documents that serve complementary purposes when initiating a project .

Their differences include:

The business case justifies undertaking the project by analyzing expected costs, benefits, risks, and alternative options. It seeks to answer the question “Should we do this project?”

In contrast, the benefits management plan goes into detail on how the benefits outlined in the business case will actually be achieved once the project is underway.

The plan focuses squarely on realizing benefits versus justifying the project by answering the question “How will we accomplish the expected benefits from this project?”

The business case takes a big-picture forest view, examining the proposed project holistically including an analysis of multiple options and scenarios.

The benefits management plan zooms in on the trees and provides an in-depth look at delivering each specific benefit expected from the project.

The business case provides the justification needed to get the project approved and funded and is developed during the early stages of project initiation before detailed planning occurs.

In contrast, the benefits management plan is created later as part of planning the approved project. With the project moving forward, detailed planning for benefits delivery can begin.

The business case will often include high-level metrics for measuring benefit achievement which help to indicate expected improvements.

The benefits management plan takes these metrics to the next level by defining detailed baseline and success metrics for each benefit and establishing rigorous tracking mechanisms.

Benefits Management Plan PMP Exam Tips

Benefits Management Plan PMP Exam Tips

When preparing for the PMP certification exam, it’s essential to understand the significance of the benefits management plan as outlined in the PMP exam content outline .

The plan is an input for the following project management processes:

  • Develop Project Charter : The benefits management plan is a source of information about the project´s objectives and how the project will contribute to the business goals.
  • Close Project or Phase : The benefits management plan assesses the project’s success in meeting its objectives.
  • Determine Budget : The plan includes target benefits such as Net Present Value (NPV) calculations, timeframe for realizing benefits, and the metrics associated with the benefits.
  • Plan Procurement Management : The benefits management plan indicates when specific project benefits are expected to be available, which influences procurement dates and contract language.
  • Identify Stakeholders : The benefits management plan may identify the individuals and groups that will benefit from the delivery of the outcomes of the project and are thus considered stakeholders.

Key Takeaways

The reason why projects are created is to provide business value and deliver benefits defined in the business case and the benefits management plan.

An effective benefits management plan is essential to maximize the value of your projects. By outlining how benefits will be achieved, measured, and sustained, it connects project outcomes to business needs.

Whether tangible or intangible, defining benefits upfront drives strategic priorities and ongoing realization. With clear metrics and governance, benefits can be optimized across the project lifecycle.

What Does Benefit Mean in Project Management?

A benefit in project management is defined as an outcome of actions or results that provide value to the sponsoring organization as well as to the project’s intended beneficiaries.

What is Benefits-based Management?

Benefits-based management focuses on defining, planning, and tracking the benefits of projects and programs to ensure that the desired outcomes and value are achieved and aligned with an organization’s strategic goals.

What is an Example of Benefits Management?

An example of benefits management is a company implementing a new IT system to streamline operations.

The benefits management process would involve identifying anticipated benefits like improved efficiency, cost reduction, and better customer service, then measuring and tracking these outcomes post-implementation to ensure they are realized.

David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

David Usifo is a certified project manager professional, professional Scrum Master, and a BCS certified Business Analyst with a background in product development and database management.

He enjoys using his knowledge and skills to share with aspiring and experienced project managers and product developers the core concept of value-creation through adaptive solutions.

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Project Business Documents – Business Case, Benefits Management Plan

  • Project Management

Project Business Documents

The below two documents are considered as Project Business Documents

  • Project Business case
  • Project Benefits Management Plan 

Project Business case 

Project Business case explains

  • Why the project was selected?
  • How the execution of this project brings business value to the organization?
  • How this project fits into the organization’s strategic goals?

PMI defines the Project Business case as a documented feasibility study used to establish the validity of benefits of a selected component lacking sufficient definition, and that is used as a basis for the authorization of further project management activities.

Project Benefits Management Plan

It is the document that describes 2 things

  • how and when the benefits of the project will be delivered.
  • the mechanisms that should be in place to measure those benefits.

PMBOK defines it as ” The documented explanation defining the processes for creating, maximizing, and sustaining benefits provided by a project.”

Please check the detailed posts on Project Business Case , and Project Benefits Management Plan .

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Benefits Management Plan

Benefits Management Plan gives you the tools to deliver on the project’s goals and objectives in terms of what the business will get out of it. Essentially, a benefits management plan informs the business about which benefits the project should provide, how to measure if those benefits are delivered, and how those benefits will be realized and quantified if they are realized.

.example_responsive_1 { width: 320px; height: 100px; } @media(min-width: 500px) { .example_responsive_1 { width: 468px; height: 60px; } } @media(min-width: 800px) { .example_responsive_1 { width: 970px; height: 250px; } } (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); What is a Benefits management plan?

The definition of the benefits management plan is an organized summary of how a business expects to improve over time by implementing or delivering its products or services, and how it will measure those improvements. A company’s benefits management plan describes all proposed work activities, as well as expected changes resulting from these activities. These changes are generally expressed in terms of costs, impacts, and risks. The ultimate goal is improved return on investment (ROI). 

Benefits management plan is one of the two business documents used in project management along with business case. It is largely used in the initiating phase of projects while developing project charter, i dentifying stakeholders , in some planning actions such as d etermining budget , and preparing procurement management plan . While closing a project, benefits management plan should be taken into consideration to determine if the planned benefits are realized or not.

The benefits management plan provides a detailed description of what should be accomplished and how success will be measured. It also identifies who is responsible for each activity and when they are due. This type of planning helps managers determine if there is adequate justification for undertaking new projects, and if so, helps them manage their resources effectively during implementation. The benefits management plan may also identify any potential conflicts between proposed project activities and existing operations or other projects within the organization. Finally, it can help ensure that projects have appropriate end-dates that take into account any interdependencies with other projects being implemented at about the same time.

Key Elements of Benefits Management Plan

For each benefit identified, benefits will be defined, success criteria established, anticipated benefits owners, and metrics communicated. Risks associated with realizing benefits will also be assessed and mitigated where possible. It is important that both positive and negative outcomes be considered so that project partners can determine appropriate investments in contingency plans in case of deviations from expected benefits. The PMP® credential requires that an understanding of benefits management is demonstrated on the exam through at least one integrated practice scenario question involving benefits awareness.

Benefits Management Plan vs Business Case

A business case covers the scope of a project along with what happens if risks emerge and potential solutions. Details about related assumptions and constraints are also included.

A benefits management plan documents when and how various benefits will be delivered, whereas a benefits plan typically lays out who benefits and what. Measures, too, are detailed as opposed to risks and assumptions.

See also: Business Justification Analysis

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Benefits Management Plan

Dive into the world of Benefits Management Plan and understand its significance in project success. Explore the key components that make up a Benefits Management Plan. Learn the step-by-step process of developing one, from defining the scope and engaging stakeholders to identifying benefits, establishing metrics, designing the realisation process, and continuous monitoring and review.

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A Benefits Management Plan is paramount to every modern-day organisation, that wants to manage and maximise project benefits effectively. By outlining the strategies and actions required to identify, measure, and realise project benefits, a Benefits Management Plan ensures that organisations achieve their desired outcomes and optimise their investments. Discover how a Benefits Management Plan can help you achieve your project goals and business vision. Learn the best practices and strategies for Benefits Management through  our blog.  

Table of Contents 

1) What is a Benefits Management Plan? 

2) What does a Benefits Management Plan include?

3) Top 7 components of a Benefits Management Plan 

4) How to develop a Benefits Management Plan? 

5) Conclusion

What is a  Benefits Management Plan?  

A Benefits Management Plan is a document that outlines how an organisation will identify, measure, track, and realise the benefits associated with a project or initiative. It provides a structured approach to achieve the desired outcomes and realise the expected benefits. The plan serves as a roadmap for benefit realisation, guiding project managers, stakeholders, and other relevant parties throughout the project lifecycle. 

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What does a Benefits Management Plan include?

A Benefits Management Plan is a document that describes the expected outcomes and value of a project or initiative. It helps to ensure that the project delivers the benefits that align with the organisation’s strategic goals. A Benefits Management Plan should cover the following aspects for each benefit:

a) Description: A brief and clear statement of the benefit and how it contributes to the organisation’s success.

b) Timeline: A schedule that shows when the benefit will be delivered and realised and how it will be monitored and reviewed.

c) Beneficiaries: An identification of the stakeholders who will benefit from the project and their roles and responsibilities.

d) Measurement: A definition of the indicators and methods that will be used to assess and quantify the benefit, including the current and target values.

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Top 7 components of a Benefits Management Plan

Components of a Benefits Management Plan

There are several aspects that you must consider while creating effective Business Management Plan: 

Defining the benefits

This component explains the expected outcomes and benefits and how they support the organisation’s strategic goals. For example, a benefit could be increased customer satisfaction, reduced costs, or improved efficiency. Benefits should be measurable, tangible, realistic, and aligned with the organisation’s vision and mission. A clear definition of benefits helps to set the foundation for successful benefit realisation.  

Objectives and goals

This component specifies the plan's purpose, scope, and timeframe and the specific goals it aims to achieve. For example, a goal could be to increase customer retention by 10% in one year. Objectives and goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) and aligned with the project’s objectives. A clear statement of objectives and goals helps to guide the planning and execution of the plan.

Stakeholder identification

This component identifies the parties involved in or affected by the project and the plan and their roles and responsibilities. For example, a stakeholder could be a customer, an employee, a manager, or a supplier. Stakeholder identification helps to understand different groups' needs, expectations, and interests and to engage them effectively in the benefit realisation process. A stakeholder analysis matrix can be used to map the stakeholders and their level of influence and interest.

Metrics and indicators

This component defines the criteria and methods for measuring and evaluating the benefits, including baseline and target values. For example, a metric could be customer satisfaction survey scores, and an indicator could be the percentage of customers who rate the service as excellent or good. Metrics and indicators help quantify and track the benefits and assess the performance and progress of the plan. A benefits map can link the benefits, metrics, and indicators to the project outputs and outcomes. 

Ownership and accountability

This component assigns benefit owners responsible for delivering and realising the benefits, as well as the reporting and governance mechanisms. For example, a benefit owner could be a project manager, a business analyst, or a sponsor. Ownership and accountability help to ensure that the benefits are clearly defined, assigned, and managed and that the roles and responsibilities are communicated and understood. A RACI matrix can be used to assign the Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed parties for each benefit. 

Realisation process

This component describes the activities and actions required to achieve and sustain the benefits, including planning, delivery, transition, and review stages. For example, an activity could be conducting a benefits review workshop, and an action could be implementing a feedback system. The realisation process helps  outline the steps and tasks involved in delivering and realising the benefits and to ensure that the benefits are embedded and sustained in the organisation. A benefits realisation plan can be used to document the realisation process and schedule. 

Monitoring and review

This component outlines the process of tracking and reporting the progress and performance of the plan and identifying and managing any issues or risks that may affect the benefit realisation. For example, a process could be using a benefits dashboard, and a risk could be a change in customer preferences. Monitoring and review help to ensure that the benefits are achieved and maintained and that any deviations or challenges are addressed and resolved. A benefits register can record the benefits, their status, and any issues or risks.

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How to develop a Benefits Management Plan?

How to develop a Benefits Management Plan

To develop a comprehensive Benefits Management Plan, organisations should follow a structured approach that encompasses the following steps: 

Define the scope  

Clearly define the scope of the Benefits Management Plan, including the projects or initiatives it covers and the expected outcomes. This helps set boundaries and provides clarity on the areas of focus. 

Engage stakeholders  

Involve key stakeholders in the development of the plan to gain their input, insights, and support. Collaboration with stakeholders ensures that their expectations are considered and their perspectives are incorporated into the plan. 

Identify benefits  

Thoroughly identify and document the benefits associated with the project. This involves conducting a detailed analysis to determine the potential benefits, their alignment with organisational objectives, and their feasibility. 

Establish metrics  

Define measurable metrics and KPIs that will be used to track and assess the progress and success of benefit realisation. These metrics should be specific, relevant, achievable, and time-bound. 

Assign ownership  

Assign benefit owners who will be responsible for driving the realisation of each benefit. These individuals should have the necessary authority, resources, and expertise to ensure successful outcomes. 

Design realisation process  

Develop a well-structured plan that outlines the specific activities, resources, timelines, and dependencies required to realise the identified benefits. This process should be realistic, adaptable, and aligned with the overall project objectives. 

Monitor and review  

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Conclusion  

A well-structured Benefits Management Plan is essential for organisations to maximise the value derived from their projects and initiatives. By following the outlined components and best practices, organisations can effectively identify, measure, track, and realise the benefits that align with their strategic objectives. With a robust plan in place for Benefits Management, organisations can optimise their investments and achieve their desired outcomes. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

A Benefits Management Plan helps to ensure that the project delivers the benefits that align with the organisation’s strategic goals and optimises the return on investment.

A Benefits Management Plan also helps minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities associated with the benefits realisation and track and measure the performance and progress of the project.  

Organisations can effectively integrate a Benefits Management Plan into their project management framework by following a structured and iterative process that involves defining, planning, delivering, transitioning, and reviewing the benefits. 

Organisations can also use tools and techniques such as benefits maps, benefits registers, benefits dashboards, and stakeholder analysis matrices to support the integration of Benefits Management across the project lifecycle.  

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Project Management Knowledge

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Benefits Management Plan

The Benefits Management plan will describe how the benefits of the project will be delivered and when they will be delivered. The purpose of undertaking any project is to provide some type of benefit as a result of delivering the products of the project. The types of benefit are variable and there can be several types of benefit for a project, here are some examples:

  • Reducing business costs through the automation of a process
  • Increasing the sales of a business with new or improved products
  • Meeting the requirements of a legislative or regulatory matter

Benefits can be broadly categorised as tangible and intangible benefits. A tangible benefit is something that can be measured, for example, a reduction in operating costs. An intangible benefit is something that cannot be measured accurately, although the effects of this benefit can be seen, for example, brand awareness.

The inputs to the Benefits Management Plan come from the Business Case for the project, which should detail the actual benefits that are expected of the project in order to justify the project.

In order to measure the delivery of some benefits such as cost reduction, a baseline study of the current costs within the business is needed so that a comparison can be made following the delivery of the project.

The Benefits Management Plan itself will contain the following key items:

  • A description of the benefit that is expected to be delivered
  • A schedule for delivering the benefits
  • The owner of the benefits
  • How the benefit will be measured including baseline measures if appropriate
  • Assumptions and risks considered in determining the benefit

The Benefits Management Plan will be reviewed regularly throughout the project to ensure that the declared benefits are still on track for delivery. Some benefits are delivered over a period of time long after the project delivery so the tracking and measurement in the plan may extend beyond the completion of the project, and in this case, the owner of the benefits will continue to track throughout this period.

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Benefits management plan

The benefits management plan is a component part of the project initiation document (PID) and should be approved at this gateway.

The sponsor ultimately owns and is accountable for benefits realisation, but the project manager will usually have responsible for producing the benefits management plan, in close collaboration with sponsor, senior user and other key stakeholders.

The benefits management plan presents a summary of the project's benefits expected by the business, how they will be delivered and how they will be measured. It will also describe any post-project benefits reviews that are required.

The benefits management plan should establish baselines and targets in order to measure achievement for each benefit identified.

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you are here Accueil | PROJECT MANAGEMENT | Resources and Topics | PMBOK® GUIDE SIXTH EDITION The key elements of the benefits management plan

PMBOK® GUIDE SIXTH EDITION The key elements of the benefits management plan

PMBOK® GUIDE SIXTH EDITION The key elements of the benefits management plan

Pmbok® guide sixth edition, the key elements of the benefits management plan.

The benefits management plan describes key elements of the benefits and may include, but is not limited to, documenting:

  • Target benefits (e.g., the expected tangible and intangible value to be gained by the implementation of the project; financial value is expressed as net present value).
  • Strategic alignment (e.g., how well the project benefits align to the business strategies of the organization).
  •  Time frame for realizing benefits (e.g., benefits by phase, short-term, long-term, and ongoing.
  •  Benefits owner (e.g., the accountable person to monitor, record, and report realized benefits throughout the time frame established in the plan).
  •  Metrics (e.g., the measures to be used to show benefits realized, direct measures, and indirect measures.)
  • Assumptions (e.g., factors expected to be in place or to be in evidence); and
  • Risks (e.g., risks for realization of benefits).

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business case vs benefits management plan pmp

Benefits Management

Benefits Management and Benefits Realisation Management

If you are wondering about 'benefits management' and 'benefits realisation management'. Visit our website to learn everything!

January 1, 2022

‘ Benefits management ‘ and ‘benefits realisation management’ are terms that are becoming increasingly popular in the project management industry, amid efforts to sell large-scale corporate transformation programs and regulate their performance. However, after the sponsor has accepted the business case, these processes frequently come to a halt.

How is this possible in a highly competitive corporate environment when change is omnipresent, investments are micromanaged by financial controllers, and unsuccessful business transformation programs can jeopardize executives’ and managers’ careers?

The ability to adapt to change or the proper investment in new markets or products do not guarantee a company’s success. Instead, the overall benefit realized by adopting change through a transformation program is what determines success, and possibly even the existence of an organization.

What is benefit management?

The method of investing time and money in order to generate positive change in a project is known as benefits management. This is accomplished by identifying, planning, measuring, and tracking benefits from the start of the project until the completion of the project, when all benefits have been realized.

Identifying benefits

Benefits management should: Assessment of project scope management capability maturity using a checklist

  • define the proposed work’s benefits and dis-benefits;
  • develop systems for measurement;
  • implement the necessary changes in order to realize benefits;
  • measure the improvement and compare it to the business case.

Why focus on benefits management?

In short, concentrating on benefits enables better program and project resource allocation decisions as well as faster organizational transformation. Advertisements stating that the best-in-class companies utilize a particular vendor’s products would like you to believe that the opposite is also true. Purchase our product and you will instantly become one of the most successful companies. If this were the case, completing projects on time would be enough to ensure business success. In fact, the “best” company is characterized by its ability to deliver a vision of a future state that is assessed by the realization of specified benefits. Simply having a new enterprise IT system or a newly developed product does not guarantee the company’s standing as a best-in-class organization. Furthermore, while projects are generally evaluated on how efficiently they produce a result (e.g., cost/schedule performance indices), programs are frequently viewed as long-term investments that expect a leveraged return on investment. This necessitates not just the delivery of new capabilities, but also the facilitation of organizational transformation and the realization of expected benefits.

Leadership, as well as the individuals who must change, must be committed to organizational transformation. People are more willing to change if they believe there will be a benefit to them, their business, or the consumer. When benefits are identified and program components are aligned to them, the program becomes a stream of projects and processes that bring value to the company. This makes it simple for the program to use value optimization methods like lean.

Benefits vs capabilities

One of the reasons why programs’ benefits aren’t always realized is a lack of clarity in defining and measuring them. For many project organizations, the change from evaluating project outputs (e.g., capabilities) to defining and measuring benefit accomplishment is a paradigm shift. Capabilities are the program’s enablers, not the program’s benefits.

“A benefit is a result of activities or behaviors that provide utility, value, or a positive change to the intended recipient,” according to The Standard for Program Management. A benefit is also defined as “the measurable improvement coming from an outcome seen as an advantage by one or more stakeholders, which contributes to one or more organizational objective(s)” by Managing Successful Programs. A benefit, according to Siemens, is a set of measurable improvements that give one or more stakeholders a business advantage. Benefits are typically linked and stakeholder-specific, and they can be both tangible and intangible. The following are some examples:

  • Increase of market share
  • Shorter time to market
  • Higher employee retention

Benefits frequently include terms like “better,” “cheaper,” “faster,” or “bigger,” and they represent the program’s strategic objective being realized. It is critical to have a program vision. A program vision, according to Managing Successful Programs (MSP), should be a “postcard from the future” that describes the organization’s future condition after the program goals have been achieved. A program vision may be to increase market share to 35% of the available market while maintaining profitability. Improved market share and project profit margin might readily be defined as benefits that could be quantifiably measured to demonstrate program vision achievement in this situation.

The benefits, on the other hand, may not be as obvious if a methodology like MSP is not utilized. Take, for example, the improvement of organizational project management maturity as one of the program’s expected outcomes. The next discussion reflects a root cause analysis method based on the “five whys.”

When asked to explain the benefit of the OPM improvement program, the program manager often responds with something along the lines of “We will attain Maturity Level 3.” Maturity Level 3 is a measurement of the organization’s OPM capability maturity, not a benefit. The only benefit of reaching Maturity Level 3 may be the program manager’s or company senior leadership’s incentive bonus, but not more. Why does the organization desire to be rated at Maturity Level 3 in the first place? Then comes a series of questions:

Q: What are the benefits of reaching Level 3?

A: Our processes will be standardized.

Q: What are the benefits of standard processes?

A: All projects will follow A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Q: What are the benefits of adopting the PMBOK® Guide for all projects?

A: We will deliver on time and on budget more frequently, increasing project predictability.

Q: Why is this significant?

A: We’ll increase customer satisfaction while increasing project profit margins.

We now have the true benefits! Improved customer satisfaction ratings and project profit margins indicate the program organization’s goal of increasing market share and profit margins. This analogy may be used for new product development, strategic account management, and other programs with ease.

Employee satisfaction or brand recognition are examples of benefits that are difficult to measure and are frequently referred to as intangible. However, it is not a benefit if you are unable to see or measure it. There are indications that may be seen to confirm the benefit achievement if you consult enough experts, even if it’s as basic as fewer employee complaints or enhanced recruiting or retention metrics. Companies spend enormous sums of money to put their names on racing cars or to organize worldwide sporting events for a purpose. These “soft” benefits are generally measured through surveys and polls, but the final result is frequently represented on the executive’s dashboard in terms of increased market share, more effective public service, or other organizational performance metric.

The concept of dis-benefits is another phrase introduced in MSP. These are measurable consequences of an outcome that has a negative impact on the organization’s goals. Employee morale impacts as a result of organizational reorganization or the impact on existing product sales on shop shelves when a new, enhanced product is released early are examples of dis-benefits. The program’s value is determined by the balance of benefits and drawbacks. We have the complete program business case when the net benefits are compared to the program costs.

Benefits drive organizational transformation

Benefits realization drives organizational transformation and changes the behavior of component project teams in a favorable way. Which would appeal more to the program’s component project teams: achieving Maturity Level 3 or increasing market share, project profitability, and employee satisfaction? Furthermore, the processes are carried out by humans. The new processes will not be properly transitioned and applied if they are not motivated (Image 1). People want to feel like they’re contributing to something bigger than just developing processes and filling out forms. Because of this emphasis, the component project teams can now perceive their work on the improvement program through the lens of organizational value optimization. The focus is on optimizing program value when project changes or decisions are necessary due to environmental factors. When the budget is cut, resources are reduced, or the market is down, the employees come up with new methods to deliver value.

Typical Timeline From Project start to Benefit Realization

In a case from 2001, a project team in the telecommunications semiconductor industry was constantly losing resources owing to problems in other projects inside the company. This became somewhat of a routine. To save the project, the program manager explained to the project team the importance of on-time delivery and the implications for the company. The team’s behavior changed when they realized that each week of delay cost over $125,000 to the program’s business case. Furthermore, owing to greater market capture, if two weeks could be obtained, the value each week would be above $250,000. The next week, resources were once again removed from the project for three days. “That’s $80,000!” exclaimed one team member. What can we do to avoid a $80,000 financial hit?” The team now had a strong financial case for project recovery that was on everyone’s mind. As a consequence, the program’s net present value was doubled and the schedule was recovered for 41 days (NPV). There were no financial incentives for the team; instead, they were rewarded with the joy of contributing to the organization’s success.

Defining benefits using benefit profiles

A benefit is not realizable if it cannot be specified or measured in any way. Description, observable results, attribution, and measurement are all included in a benefit profile. Image 2 shows examples of benefit profiles for several programs.

When a program vision is available and communicated, it is easier to describe a benefit. Many programs, on the other hand, are emergent in nature, which means that the collection of projects and related activity is already well along when someone recognizes it is a program. A vision should always be developed and the benefits of that vision defined, whether a program is vision guided or emergent. This will be crucial in validating and optimizing the work of program components. Even in cases when non-compliance may result in a loss of market participation (e.g., regulatory obligations), additional advantages to the organization should be considered.

Observable outcomes are discernible distinctions between the existing and future states of an organization (post-transition). In many situations, this is directly linked to the benefit’s measurement. Observable results, on the other hand, may be important in determining program success, as is the case with intangible measures.

The advantage is attributed to the program effort that is accountable and responsible for its creation. This is especially essential for evaluating the efficacy of program components. A benefits map, as detailed next, is a powerful tool for graphically displaying project component outputs and capabilities in relation to benefits of project management.

Benefits may be measured in a variety of ways, from simple financial measures to forecasting air superiority for a new jet fighter aircraft. The objective is to agree on reliable measurements that can be linked to the identified benefit. Benefits are also important aspects of program success, and they should be baselined at the start of the program (or at the very least before the start of the transition) to accurately measure trends and differences between the new and old states. Many programs struggle to demonstrate benefit realization because they never identified or established a capability to measure the benefit since it was simply expected to occur as a result of capability delivery.

Examples of Benefit Profiles With Benefit Descriptions, Observations, Attribution, and Measurements for Different Types of Programs

It’s also crucial to communicate the program’s benefits and the link to component project performance. Project teams are frequently incentivized based on traditional triple constraints of cost, time, and scope, rather than the value they add to the program. Be careful what you incentivise – you could receive it! If a project team is motivated by cost, they will optimize their project to meet that goal, even if it means foregoing opportunities to increase program value. Every project is an investment in someone’s program. Often, that project is on the verge of providing program benefits. It is true that time is money. The business case for project optimization is the value lost or gained by the program as a result of time lost or gained. Devaux (1999) identifies two excellent project value optimization metrics: DRAG, which is the amount of time a critical path activity can be reduced without affecting the finish date, and DIPP, which stands for the project’s contribution to the program’s estimated monetary value (EMV) divided by the expected time to completion (ETC). The DIPP can be baselined at the start of the project and tracked throughout the duration. The projected benefits to cost ratio is larger than the plan as long as the DIPP ratio is greater than the baseline (e.g., enhancing value or decreasing ETC). Projects in the critical path have a direct impact on the program’s projected value and benefit delivery in terms of completion time.

Benefits management and business innovation

Change is something that programs are always dealing with. As the rate of change and development in businesses accelerates, innovation has been considered as a vital success factor for staying ahead in modern business. The higher the level of innovation, the greater the amount of organizational change. Programs are becoming more stable or longer lasting than traditional line organizations as a result of this acceleration in developing and implementing innovative ways of doing business. It is actually more probable for a program to have the original organization that promoted its vision change dramatically throughout the course of the program’s lifecycle than for it to remain the same. Changes in sponsorship and program vision must, of course, be carefully managed and reflected in the targeted benefits of the program (or even the beneficiaries).

Changes in the other program’s framework, such as market development, economic climate, or technology progress, not only provide new possibilities to provide the targeted benefits more effectively, but they also provide new opportunities to pursue other, unforeseen benefits. We at Siemens deal with the rising turbulence by regularly evaluating and revising our program visions and benefit maps to ensure that all stakeholders are still aligned with what the programs will achieve.

Case study example

In Siemens’ organizational project management (OPM) improvement program, image 3 illustrates an example of benefits alignment with capability development. The maturity in project management (MPM) model, which is detailed in Sopko and Strausser (2010) and Sopko, Yellayi, and Clark (2010), is the internal Siemens model for OPM capability maturity evaluation (2012). The program was designed to achieve three main organizational goals (benefits): Customer satisfaction, project profit margins, and project delivery reliability are all things that may be improved.

Benefits of the Program After the First Phase of the Siemens Industry OPM Improvement Program, Industry Automation (US). 2012 (Sopko, Yellayi, & Clark)

Benefits realization through effective program management is gaining attention as the global marketplace places a larger focus on the value arising from project investments. Projects result in outputs that serve as enablers. Program management is the means through which an organization’s transformation and benefits are accomplished and maintained. Benefits must be defined, measured, and actively managed for a program to produce value.

A focus on benefits is a vital facilitator for value optimization methods and methodologies like lean or value analysis/value engineering, as well as influencing the team’s attitude toward innovation and program value optimization. To ensure continuous program success, processes for benefits management defined in global program standards such as PMI and the UK Cabinet Office should be created and executed.

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  1. Quick question on business case vs benefits management plan

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