Project success is a vital component to every organisation’s business success, and a huge part of this involves benefits management. Dubbed the ‘Rottweiler’ of benefits management, Stephen Jenner has the combination of training that turns the concept of benefits management into a tangible outcome for organisations and the experience to make him a leading educator in the field.
Previously running large I.T portfolios in governments in the UK, for the last seven years Jenner has been touring the world and working with QUT as a corporate educator speaking to leaders of organisations about the whole area of portfolio management and benefits management.
While some organisations find the concept elusive and others simply lack the expertise to implement it, Jenner argues that it is vital in understanding a project’s investment. To him, the devil is in the detail and the bang for your buck is in knowing your project’s investment.
A short guide to Benefits Management…
When you purchase a house, you think of it as an investment. In a few years’ time you hope your investment has increased in value and when you sell it you can clearly see the financial benefit you achieved.
Though it’s not always as simple as that. According to Jenner, whether it’s in the private or public sector, when an organisation runs a project, program or initiative, they should be treated as an investment.
“What it requires is an on-going focus on, not only the traditional ‘iron triangle’ of cost, time and scope, but also on the return on investment – in short what ‘strategic bang’ are we getting from the investment of our limited bucks?” says Jenner.
According to Jenner, benefits management is about treating these projects as investments, because whether it’s a stakeholder’s money or tax payers, every project has some kind of tangible outcome:
“Benefits management represents a collection of processes, tools and techniques to ensure three things: firstly, benefits forecasts are realistic, secondly all material benefits are recognised and thirdly, benefits realisation is optimised in practice,” says Jenner.
Benefits Management in the real world…
Today’s organisations are interested in real outcomes and seeing concepts like benefits management out in the wild.
Outlined in a recent case study by Jenner is Dubai Customs’ successful implementation of benefits management. A shining example of the concept in action, Dubai Customs’ advice includes starting with the end in mind, being driven by evidence and maintaining focus and forward thinking. Their adoption of benefits management tools and techniques resulted in seeing higher benefits realisation and return on investment.
“What I’ve noticed from the most successful organisations is the application of a consistent portfolio-wide benefits framework or categorisation that links benefits to strategy; a focus on the key benefits from each project or program; and a really disciplined approach to managing projects and programs as investments,” says Jenner.
What Jenner has also noticed alongside Dubai Customs’ success with benefits management is real progress being made in in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand: “What is common to all is the adoption of a consistent portfolio-wide approach to benefits management, including a common benefits framework linking project and program benefits to strategic objectives and business priorities.”
Success is realising benefits
“Success isn’t having a benefit map, having a benefit owner, having a benefit strategy. Success is the realisation of benefits.”
What does leadership in business mean to Stephen Jenner?
“The job of the leader is to enable the team to perform more efficiently and effectively than they otherwise could. In short it is an enabling role combining both robust challenge and real support.”