Benefits Realisation Management


Project prioritisation is a critical element of ensuring that limited resources are applied to the most appropriate initiatives, and result in the biggest bang for the buck. In a constrained financial environment this is even more critical, and will reveal inappropriate models, failures in governance, and decision making and the potential for missed opportunities or wasted resources. Identifying an accepted model is only one step and understanding the challenges in applying a prioritisation approach effectively will result in a far more productive outcome.


There is still significant emphasis on increasing the effective delivery of projects. According to a joint survey by KPMG and Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)1 only 25 per cent of projects in 2020 were delivered successfully, at least most of the time. This figure is up from 19 per cent the previous year. In 2021, this figure should be much higher given the focus on Agile and PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) over the past few years to improve project execution. Delivering a project on time, on budget and to requirements is the how and is the bare minimum. Delivering successfully means having a hard focus on the why and what. Why does a problem need fixing and what value will be created as a result. With organisational change and benefits realisation still at a very low maturity across many organisations, there is a lot to gain from putting a hard focus on the softer stuff.

Conclusion: Effective project managers prize the importance of capturing lessons learnt during the life of a project, but too often, it is just a necessary task to complete at project closure. By following simple tips and adhering to some techniques, project managers can get increased benefits for themselves and the organisations they work with.

Conclusion: Benefits management relating to technology investments is widely recognised in importance and is quantified and articulated in business cases but not managed. However, often these benefits are stated as expected by governance groups to gain investment, knowing that they are either aspirational or it is collectively accepted that they will be difficult to harvest and are therefore not pursued. Implementing a more pragmatic approach by project teams up to governance groups will provide an opportunity to improve this key area of IT investment governance.

Conclusion: The New Payments Platform will change transaction processes in a substantial way. For organisations it should deliver greater efficiency and better means of transacting information related to payments. At a higher level it could produce a productivity benefit to the extent that efficiencies are boosted for all transacting parties.

Organisations have a long time to consider how they will approach the introduction of the platform and how they might utilise it to improve processes with various stakeholders.

Conclusion: Organisations considering applications migration to a Cloud service provider may lack the experience to understand potential risks or how to select a service provider. This may result in budget overrun or inability to meet business needs.

While planning to engage a service provider, a “Plan B” (to invoke in case of failure) is needed to strengthen the project plan’s foundation and mitigate risks. The process of developing the alternative plan helps define potential risks to consider, and what success or failure will look like. Costing out the alternative plan will also help in assessing the financial benefits and costs.

Conclusion: Vodafone Foundation’s DreamLab1 charity has shown in its work with The Garvan Institute for Medical Research how a huge and diverse collection of the public’s volunteered processing on their smartphones can be used in aggregate to solve complex cancer research problems2.

The use of Mobile and Cloud as the first choice for ICT infrastructure and applications has not been an intuitive choice for most enterprises but the supporting evidence for its value has built rapidly as seen in DreamLab. This case shows the power of using intensely popular smartphones to aggregate processing to solve supercomputer-scale problems.

It also shows that an enterprise Data Centre is not the only place to perform large-scale processing. A combination of vastly distributed third party computing managed by public Cloud is reversing the business risks currently accepted when an enterprise deploys its own ICT infrastructure and places significant risk with the Cloud provider.

Similar applications of this Use Case include other charitable donations of processing capacity; shared processing in channel-focused businesses; supporters aiding not-for-profit organisations; or those that collaborate intensely; or Internet of Things (IoT) scale micro-processing of Big Data scale information across vast numbers of devices.

Conclusion: Return on investment is the touchstone of business investment success. Within marketing and in practice its use and definition is imprecise. The lack of precision is a challenge for marketing to the degree that it is difficult to assess its value in various dimensions.

Marketing and IT business case managers need to establish the baseline rules for return on investment and put them into practice for the long term.

Conclusion: While benefits management is considered highly relevant to project challenges facing organisations, benefits management has proven difficult to fit into the way that the organisation undertakes projects. The potential of effective benefits management is understood, but the ability of organisations to apply it continues to lag.

Implementing a pragmatic approach which considers the culture and relative maturity of the organisation will assist in improving this key area of IT investment governance.

Conclusion: Big data and analytics projects can learn important lessons from the domain of information security analytics platforms. Two critical factors to consider when planning deployment of an analytics platform are: the need for a clear business objective and; the depth and duration of organisational commitment required. Without a clear understanding of the objective of the analytics project, or adequate resource commitment, the project will likely fail to deliver on expectations. The worst outcome is that inadequate investment in people could result in an organisation drawing incorrect conclusions from the analytics platform.

Conclusion: A product line engineering approach to digital service development and operation can unlock significant value if due diligence is applied when identifying product line stakeholders and product line scope. A successful product line is one that enables all stakeholders to apply their unique expertise within the context of the product line at exactly those points in time when their knowledge and insights are required as part of the organisational decision making process. Good product line architectures align human expertise, organisational structure, business processes, software system capabilities, and value chain integration1 with customers and suppliers.

Conclusion:An often reported issue with our clients is that they find the process of benchmarking costly and time consuming, while rarely does it provide them with worthwhile information. After discussions with those involved we have found that this dissatisfaction is often due to a small number of issues which could have been resolved prior to undertaking the benchmarking process.

Conclusion: Despite considerable advances in the discipline of project management many organisations continue to report unacceptably high rates of failure for their IT projects. There are, however, a number of initiatives that organisations can take, particularly in the planning phase of IT projects, which can significantly reduce the likelihood of project failure.

Conclusion: Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is now viewed as a necessary pre-condition for maximising the contribution of an organisation’s IT projects to the achievement of corporate goals. Unfortunately many Small to Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) have made the decision not to implement the process due to its cost. The guidelines provided in this paper have been found to be effective in allowing a scaled down version of PPM to be implemented in a cost effective fashion within SMEs.

Conclusion: For a project to be judged a success it must not only provide its deliverables on-time and within budget, it must also deliver the benefits that were outlined in its Business Case. These benefits will normally not be achieved unless there is a successful outcome to the process of change. The change may impact the organisation in a variety of ways, for example through changes to business processes, procedures, products or technology.

Conclusion: Benefit management should be an integral part of every organisation’s project management methodology. Its application provides organisations with a clear view of the benefits being realised by their IT projects. It also ensures there is a continuing focus on benefit realisation during the project lifecycle and issues that arise are highlighted and addressed.

Impressive ROI reports based on nebulous benefit predictions often slip through the approval process at big organisations. The numbers presented are often so impressive, or so difficult to understand, that no one bothers to question them. Organisations launch big software projects such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) - which can easily cost $50 million apiece at a large organisation - with a completely false sense of whether the project will pay off. For anything but minor projects, the ROI analysis is essential to the business case. But with the CIO responsible for delivery of the IT component of the project within budget, and a business manager responsible for the realisation of the benefits for the project, finalising the ROI analysis is often difficult.

Impressive ROI reports based on nebulous benefit predictions often slip through the approval process at big companies. The numbers presented are often so impressive, or so difficult to understand, that no one bothers to question them. Companies launch big software projects such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) - which can easily cost $50 million apiece at a large company - with a completely false sense of whether the project will pay off.

Conclusion: Most senior managers are unclear whether their organisation is investing too much or too little in Information Management (IM) (IT plus business solutions with redesigned business processes). For some managers who cannot get resources to automate a process or get extra information on their desk tops, too little is being invested. Conversely, other business managers claim IT gets more than its share of resources and they are starved.

A common response when requests for extra investment in IT are made is, “How much are our competitors investing and are we at a competitive advantage or disadvantage?”

These are difficult questions to answer because I have observed:

  • It is hard to get sound and comparable IT related investment data from competitors

  • Published reports provide few performance metrics facilitating comparison

  • Although organisations may be in the same industry, differences in their management priorities and use of unorthodox accounting practices frustrate comparison.

Conclusion: IT executives are often held accountable for the non-delivery of business benefits when in most cases they are not in a position to ensure the appropriate business process and behavioural changes are made to realise the benefits. To avoid being blamed for someone else’s non-delivery IT executives need to have the governance owners in their organisations introduce a benefits management regime. One useful approach was developed by Cranfield University in the late 1990s.

More than half of all IT projects do not deliver the expected benefits. This is a metric that CEOs do not want to hear in these days of executive dissatisfaction with IT investment performance, and it is the CIO that is called to explain.

Conclusion: CIOs, because they have a cross enterprise perspective, are ideally positioned to champion the institutionalising of benefits management practices and demonstrate how to do it by corroborating the benefits from IT Infrastructure investment.