The Importance of Project Benefits

The Importance of Project Benefits


Helen asked me, a day or so back, whether I had read her comments about the importance of project benefits.

Well, yes! Sure I read them!

And, well YES! Surely it’s the business benefits, that are the reason we are doing the project?

Her question made me think: Is this actually clear to everyone in your organisation?

Is it clear, that it’s the business that is investing in the project? And, is it clear to everyone that there is a cost / benefit comparison underlying the very basis for writing the Project Charter? After all, the project has to be paid for, essentially from the organisation’s bottom line.

Of course, that’s far from the end of the story! Is the business certain that the project outcomes will lead to its strategic aims? Better services? More ‘clients’? Lower costs? Is that also clear to the business? Is also it transparent to everyone working on the project? And to the support groups?

I remain astounded, as I work with my classes and coaching groups, how often I find a disconnect in this critical area. Realistically, if you don’t have absolute transparency between business, Sponsor and project team, about the benefits and the responsibility for reaping them, then you might as well be tearing up $100 notes.

One of my students recently could identify with this so closely, she went back to work and challenged her Sponsor on it! The Sponsor took her off the project! Now, that’s tearing them up big time!

Of course, for the PM the discussion doesn’t end with clarity of the planned benefits. Is the project responsible for delivering these benefits? And is that clear to everyone? This is an area in which there can often be a lot of heated debate! After all, if delivery of benefits stretches over, say, a three year period after the project outcomes have been implemented, how do you properly define scope, time and cost if the project is responsible. On the other hand, how accountable do you make the PM for the benefits delivery, if it is not a formal part of the project? This is a big challenge for organisation without adequately defined project methodologies.

What is your experience?


John Coulton

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