MSP Foundation – Benefits Management

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Benefits Management is at the heart of programme management: programmes are primarily driven by the need to deliver benefits.

Before proceeding, just a quick reminder that all page references are from the MSP® manual, so if you haven’t bought it yet then I strongly advise you do so. You can order it directly from Amazon below.

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Benefits Management

For the foundation exam you have to know facts, terms and concepts, specifically recall the:

=> Four critical validation tests of a benefit, DOAM (Page 85):

  • Description: what precisely is the benefit?
  • Observable outcomes: what are the verifiable differences that will be noticeable between pre- and post-programme implementation?
  • Attribution: where will this benefit arise? Can this programme claim its realisation? is the accountability and responsibility for delivering the change clear and agreed?
  • Measurement: how and when will the achievement be measured?

=> How benefits are best described using change terms (Page 86):

Benefits are best titled with a change term at the beginning (such as ‘increased’, ‘faster’, ‘lower’, ‘cheaper’, ‘bigger’) and should be accompanied by a measurement (such as percent, monetary value etc). Avoid generic terms like ‘better’ or ‘improved’ without further details, as these terms are not specific enough for further analysis.

=> Descriptions of:

  • Outputs (Page 79, 285): the deliverable, or output developed by a project from a planned activity. The tangible or intangible artefact produced, constructed or created as a result of a planned activity.
  • Capabilities (Page 79, 284): the completed set of project outputs required to deliver an outcome; exists prior to transition. It is a service, function or operation that enables the organisation to exploit opportunities.
  • Outcomes (Page 79, 285): new operational state achieved after transition of the capability into live operations. The result of change, normally affecting real-word behaviour or circumstances. Outcomes are achieved as a result of the activities undertaken to effect the change; they are the manifestation of part or all of the new state conceived in the blueprint.
  • Benefits (Page 75, 79, 283): the measurable improvement resulting from an outcome perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders, and which contributes towards one or more organizational objective(s).
  • Dis-Benefits (Page 76, 284): a measurable decline resulting from an outcome perceived as negative by one or more stakeholders, which reduced one of more organisational objective(s).

=> The purpose and scope of Benefits Management:

  • Purpose (Page 77, 78):
    • does the right things – is aligned with strategy
    • focused on the right set of benefits
    • is aware of any positive and negative impact it might generate
    • identifies, plans, validates, measures and review benefits
    • is tightly aligned to the transformational flow processes
  • Scope:
    • from conception of a programme to beyond its closure

=> Elements and sequencing of the path to benefit realisation and corporate objectives (Pages 76 – 78, 82 – 87, Fig 7.2 & 7.4):

  • The corporate objectives drive the development of the programme vision
  • The vision is expanded into a blueprint for the future organisation
  • The blueprint defines what the projects need to create
  • The projects deliver outputs which create capabilities
  • The capabilities are transitioned into outcomes
  • The outcomes enable the realisation of benefits
  • The benefits are then achieved and contribute to the achievement of the corporate objectives


Managing Successful Programmes 2011, Axelos

=> The purpose and activities of each step of the generic four-step cycle for managing benefits on any programme (Pages 82 – 87, Fig 7.6):

  • Identify benefits (Pages 82 – 84):
    • Purpose: identifying likely benefits and mapping them
    • Activities: benefits modelling and maps, benefits management strategy, benefits profiles
  • Plan benefits realisation (Pages 85, 86):
    • Purpose: understand how benefits fit together, attribute responsibilities, validate that they are credible and plan for delivery
    • Activities: benefits attribution, benefits validation, benefits realisation plan
  • Deliver benefits realisation (Page 86):
    • Purpose: measurement of benefits
    • Activities: measure benefits – three stages:
      • Pre-Transition: establish KPIs and metrics
      • Transition: monitors performance
      • Post-Transition: benefits review at the end of each tranche
  • Benefits reviews (Page 87):
    • Purpose: ensure that benefits realisation is still on track
    • Activities: review future benefits as well as benefits that should have been realised to date

=> Reasons that benefits management may well continue beyond the end of the programme (Page 78):

  • benefit may take longer to materialise than it is reasonable to maintain the programme structures
  • other benefits may have to be realised, but will need to be owned and managed to pre-agreed target levels that are yet to be achieved
  • benefits can manifest themselves at any time and may not require the programme structure to be in place to realise them
  • beyond the end of the programme, the business change manager would continue to have responsibility for realisation even though the formal structures may well have been disbanded
  • unexpected benefits should be captured and reported to ensure the full value of the programme is recognised

=> Type of content of:

  • Benefits Map (Page 238):
    • benefits and dis-benefits, including short- and long-term benefits
    • outputs
    • capabilities
    • outcomes
    • strategic objectives
    • dependencies:
      • between benefits
      • on project outputs
      • on capabilities and outcomes
    • additional business changes to enable realisation of benefits
    • other external dependencies
  • Benefit Profiles (Page 236):
    • reference number or identifier
    • description of the benefit (or dis-benefit)
    • programme or organisational objectives supported and the related observable outcomes from the programme implementation
    • category or categories that are appropriate to the benefits
    • KPIs in the business operations that will be affected by the benefit, both immediately after realisation and for the future
    • current or baseline performance levels, and improvement or deterioration trajectory anticipated
    • benefit realisation and business change costs
    • capabilities required for the benefit to be realised: the project(s) within the programme directly related to the realisation of the benefit
    • outcomes that will need to be in place to enable the benefit realisation
    • business changes required for realisation (to process, culture, people, policy)
    • related issues and risks to the full realisation of the benefit
    • any dependencies on contributory events, programmes or projects outside the boundary of this programme
    • who is responsible for realising this benefit (typically the business change manager for this area of the business)
    • attribution: the benefit owner and the operations area that will receive this benefit
    • measurement (financial wherever possible)

=> The purpose of:

  • Benefits management strategy (Pages 84, 236): defines the approach to realising benefits and the framework within which benefits realisation will be achieved
  • Benefits map (Page 238): illustrates the sequential relationship between benefits
  • Benefit profiles (Pages 84, 236): define each benefit (and dis-benefit) and provide a detailed understanding of what will be involved and how the benefit will be realised
  • Benefits realisation plan (Pages 86, 238): used to track realisation of benefits across the programme and set review controls

=> Areas of focus for the governance theme Benefits Management of (Page 90):

  • Senior Responsible Owner (SRO):
    • reports to the sponsoring group on the delivery of the programme benefits
    • ensures that the programme and the business areas affected maintain a focus on benefits delivery
    • ensures that the benefits management strategy is created, adjusted, improved and enforced
    • maintains a focus on business performance sustainability during transition
    • chairs benefit reviews involving relevant stakeholders, business managers and possibly internal audits
    • liaises with the sponsoring group on the validation of all benefits
    • authorises benefits achievements
  • Programme Manager:
    • develops the benefits management strategy on behalf of the SRO with the Business Change Managers and relevant stakeholders from the affected business areas
    • develops the benefits realisation plan in consultation with the Business Change Managers, relevant stakeholders and members of the project teams
    • ensures that the delivery of capability is aligned to maximise the realisation of benefits
    • initiates benefit reviews
  • Business Change Manager/s (BCM):
    • Identifies and quantifies the benefits with the support of relevant stakeholders, the programme manager and members of the project teams
    • Delivers particular benefits as profiled: this extends to ensuring that commitments and actions that have been attributed to operational areas are delivered
    • Provides information to support the creation and delivery of the benefits realisation plan
    • Develops and maintains the benefit profiles
    • Ensures there is no double-counting of benefits
    • Maintains engagement with key individuals responsible for benefits delivery within the operations
    • Sets business performance deviation levels and early-warning indicators to support realising benefits
    • Initiates benefit reviews after the programme has closed
  • Programme Office:
    • Monitors the progress of benefits realisation against plan
    • Produces performance reports as defined by the programme manager
    • Gathers information for the benefits reviews
    • Maintains benefits information under change control and maintains audit trails of changes

Managing Successful Programmes – Foundation content guide (hyperlinks will be added as posts become available):

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