3 best questions on the Q&A session on my talk on “Keeping benefits management simple and alive”

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  • March 14, 2013
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3 best questions on the Q&A session on my talk on “Keeping benefits management simple and alive”  at Sheffield Hallam University 12/03/13

The talk was on “Keeping BM simple, workable, and alive” and one of the biggest blockers is the confidence people having modelling and mapping benefits (regardless of tool used). The slides will be available on the APM site, but you are welcome to have them here.

Keeping Benefits Management simple, alive and workable in BT 12th March 2013

I have included the best questions from the Q&A session as I thought these are worth sharing to the community

It is good to contextualise what business transformation is for starters

Benefits management is one but key success component of a transformation programme and failures can be multi stage and it is easy to see that only if a few things did not quite go according to plan, would results in poor benefit realisation

I have put forth the 3 best questions

Is benefit management and change management the same?

No, firstly the interconnect is that change is required to realise the benefits and its real benefits that make the change sustainable (otherwise we rewind into old habits or undo the change and the benefit). Benefits management connects the strategy to the change by linking capabilities and changes to outcomes, benefits and objectives and is a means for communicating, quanitiying, targeting and tracking benefits. Change his much bigger – how do we motivate and coordinate resources for organisations to adapt to bigger, newer goals and is deeply embedded in incentives, motivation, and leadership –the broad facts of individual and organisation behaviour. Great books have been recently published on the subject that moves from programmatic delivery of change (Kotter) to how people receive and respond to change (Heath).

Should we be attaching probabilistic likelihood to a capability producing a change producing an outcome?

This approach at best is used to derive the expected likely hood of benefit occurring and its 85% attrition at each stage is likely to give you 50% of the original intended benefit. I would suggest differently and use the techniques used by finance communities when calculating expected cash flow before arriving at present value calculations. They ensure that cash flows are risk adjusted for organisational risk – so should be the case for benefits. Don’t put best case for benefits forward but the most likely or expected value of benefits. This has 2 advantages

  • It resolves the optimism bias and forces people to think realistically to start with – a huge case where benefits are communicated at the highest levels, and then tend to go south when reality hits the road
  • It removes the weird science behind modelling attrition on multistage delivery

Should benefits modelling be owned by the PMO or devolved?

Benefits modelling should definitely be devolved to the transformational leads and not retained by PMOs. PMOs are great at benefit profile tracking through to realisation – however developing the model and its maintenance needs to be the role of the transforming professional, the person who drives the change through to delivering the benefits

Even if the transformation specialist is not a specialist on BM, if he/she can produce a map that is 80% correct (and 100% owned by him/her) there is a greater chance of realisation, than a highly accurate map developed and owned by a PMO lead or BM lead. Ownership and buy-in far exceed accuracy. There is no 100% accuracy in a map today as in all likelihood the underlying metrics will change in a years’ time


Trainer’s note

View Viren Lall's profile on LinkedIn

Viren Lall is a business strategy and transformation leader with a track record of delivering transformation (cumulative benefit of £275m) for telecoms, IT and service organisations. Viren is a keen and well respected facilitator and trainer. His 3 day business transformation hothouses have been voted the best in BT’s corporate memory and have trained hundreds of managers and e trained over 200 managers last year in principles of transformation strategy.

As the secretary of the Benefits Management “Specific Interest Group” of the Association of Project Managers (world wide body of 20,000 members), he is responsible for promoting professionalism in benefits realisation from a change leadership perspective to its members across the UK and as expert on change, he speaks at national events in the UK.

He is also working with two of UK’s top management schools in developing executive education programmes and has been invited to teach on their MBA courses. Viren has an Executive MBA with distinction from the London Business School and an MSc in Advanced Computing from King’s College London and B Tech in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi. He was awarded the Dean’s award from King’s College London.


- Viren Lall, London