Delivering programs and projects in any business, is to expressly gain a benefit; efficiency, competitive advantage, mitigate risk, raise your organizational profile, increasing revenue, decreasing costs...the list goes on. When you boil it down, benefits of programs and projects is your business case to determine whether to continue with them or not.
They form the basis of the purpose or, as Simon Sinek so beautifully captures the reason we do anything, the WHY you intend to go down the path of committing such a significant investment to you and your organization. So let's explore some fundamental actions that need to take place, in order for you to achieve your benefits.
Determine Your Benefits Before You Start
Starting a program of work, or project, without knowing what your benefits are, is a recipe for disaster. If you've already started and you "back track" to determine what the benefits are, will only lead to heated debates and deathly silences during the program or project; then you wonder why you haven't gained any traction.
Consider your tangible and intangible, financial and non-financial benefits to drive the decisions of your team, working groups, Steering Committees and leadership teams. Workshop the concept of determining benefits in the ideation part of your program or project; to gain buy-in and to lead into the conversation around identifying targets and KPI's for achieving your benefit[s].
Assign Benefit Owner[s]
Great news...you've captured your benefits; now everyone knows what it is they are setting out to achieve. Don't stop there, someone needs to take ownership to deliver them. By assigning Benefit Owner[s], you will have a good understanding of the desire and realistic nature of the benefits being realized - if you have a Benefit Owner[s] dodging taking responsibility, this may be an underlying fear that the benefits are too unrealistic or unachievable...this is a good circuit breaker.
Benefit Owner[s] also become your evangelists and advocates for delivering the intended benefits. Having this drive, and leadership, for realizing your benefits will make delivering your program or project much easier.
Benefit Owner[s] Visibility
Now you have your benefits mapped and your Benefit Owner[s] assigned, make sure the Owner[s] are active and visible through the entire lifecycle of your program or project. Having them sit on working groups and Steering Committees ensures they are able to advocate for the delivery outcomes that they are responsible for - ever been assigned responsibility to something and walked away? I didn't think so.
Benefit Owner[s] also provide guidance when the going gets tough. They will invariably and continually bring conversations back to "so how does that achieve our intended benefit[s]?".
What Are Your Levers, Drivers and Enablers
Understanding your benefits' levers, drivers and enablers will ensure you are able to call upon the appropriate actions to drive the right behaviours. A dependency matrix with these functions will provide a great resource during the delivery of your programs and projects.
Do your procedures enable the right behaviour to be taken, will your leadership drive the right outcomes, are your systems capable of leveraging the data you need to capture and report on outcomes...understand these functions and their interdependencies and you will remain focussed and committed.
Benefits vs. Disbenefits
Don't be blinded by "all benefits need to be positive" - you may have to take some steps back in some areas, to achieve the greater good. Don't panic...people will understand if there are some negatives, to see a collective move forward.
As I mentioned earlier, if people are aware of the WHY and you explain it with empathy, you will gain greater credibility. When disbenefits are determined, it is important to engage early; so that people can have the time to make the necessary adjustments to their working patterns.
This brief blog outlines some of the many critical activities involved in delivering benefits. We love to hear your feedback in the comments section below and invite you to stay tuned for more articles on this topic; as it's a significant field in the delivery of programs and projects.