Benefits Management is a small (but important) part of Project Management, like an audit that permeates every part of projects, programmes and portfolio. Practitioners have developed benefits management ourselves, so why is an organisation self-evidently dedicated to Project Management relevant?
This mainly depends on whether Benefits Management is an art or a science. If it is an art, then it requires an artist to identify benefits and monitor progress towards achieving those benefits.
A science makes Benefits Management repeatable and consistent, able to be taught, and perhaps most importantly, to reliably influence decisions rather than simply monitor progress.
I’ve been actively engaged in Benefits Management in not-for-profit since 2002, and since 1990 on calculating RoI and presenting business cases week in week out in various sales jobs. It certainly started out as an art form for me - very few people could do it well, and I was one of them. But it’s now clearly a science with a defined process, and you will get the best results if you follow the process. A specialist form of Benefits Management in the not-for-profit organisation is Social Return on Investment, and that follows a very strict process and has a governing body (the SROI network).
So as Benefits Management becomes a science, it needs a governing body which will develop and improve the process and set expectations on the quality of outcomes and the use they are put to. This governing body needs to be able to bring the best minds - the most experienced, the most unselfish - together to develop it. I believe that body is the Association for Project Management (APM).
Most people involved in any formal way in project or programme management are members of APM, both in UK and worldwide. UK’s largest organisations in public and private sector are corporate members which allows any and all of their staff to be associate members, and many students undertaking any form of business studies also join as student members. Why do they bother?
APM offers regular (usually monthly) meetings in each region around UK (I attend the North East branch) where some of the best speakers in UK inspire people on their specific aspect of Project Management. APM hosts a large number of Special Interest Groups (SIG), including portfolio management, earned value management, governance, and of course benefits management, which develop thought leadership and allow people with an interest and/or expertise to get around the table with others with similar experience/ expertise/ interest and develop it. These SIG then give talks to the regional groups to help all the membership stay up to date on their profession, so vital if Project Management isn’t your full-time profession, and you don’t expect to read around the subject to stay up to date.
The Benefits Management SIG includes John Thorpe (author of “The Information Paradox”), Gerald Bradley (author of “Benefits Realisation Management”), and Steve Jenner (author of “Transforming Government and Public Services”).
We’ve developed a clear definition of Benefits Management (to be published around September in the 6th edition of APM’s Body of Knowledge)
and a series of Thought Leadership guides on the Why, What, How and What If of Benefits Management. We’re currently developing the means to use Benefits Management for decision-making during the roll-out of a programme or project, so that decisions are made on the basis of evidence - and the evidence is the actual achievements or proxies which demonstrate progress. This process will be extended into operational delivery of services, so that front-line staff (shop floor, contact with clients) know what they are achieving and can make changes within the context of the organisation’s strategy, to achieve the best results). It saves time, it raises profits, and above all, it inspires and engages people!