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Benefits - What are they?



Consider

No Project Sponsor will agree to a project without visible benefits.
In the case of the PRINCE2® methodology the Project board will make sure that a Business Case exists prior to the approval of any project.


Thus, the Project Manager must summarise these benefits and record them as part of the Project Notebook.

However, don’t overstate the benefits, make sure they are backed up with information and suitable calculations.

Possible benefits might be:

  • Process improvements
  • Increased business volume
  • Efficiency gains
  • Cost reduction
  • The current position

Review at intervals

Like certain other aspects of the project plan, the proposed benefits should be reviewed at intervals.
This should be the case if particular assumptions alter.

Appoint a business manager?

In order to show some benefit once the project is successful, it may be both useful and necessary, to assess the current business position as a baseline.
This may require data that already exists or may require the collation of data over a period of time, for example, one can only show an order processing benefit if you know the current position by collecting data over a period of time.

Negatives?

In achieving the benefits there may be a price to pay in terms of some negative impacts.
Also, be a little wary in suggesting that one of the benefits is a reduction in personnel.
This may very well be the result of the project but needs to be considered sensitively as there may be issues of staff reduction that need to be costed and managed as a result.
If this is the case, it may be that the ‘freed’ resource could be utilised elsewhere in the organisation.

For some projects the benefits may well be ‘strategic’ in that the organisation believes the project has to go ahead come what may.
In this case, the Project Manager should still be trying to achieve a quality product within a reasonable time and at minimal cost.

Some sort of cost benefit analysis could be carried out using software spreadsheets.
These make it easier to review benefits when underlying costs begin to change.

The role of the Project Manager is to deliver the project objectives in terms of cost, time and quality.
It therefore makes sense for some projects to consider the appointment of a business manager whose responsibility it would be to make sure the business benefits are achieved.

Under PRINCE2 2005 the Business Case is the corner stone of any project.
It must be viable before a project will be approved by the Project Board.
It does not just exist at the start of a project but features all the way through.
If at any point the Business Case fails the project must be stopped.
[see Business Case - part 1]

Before a project can begin the Business Case must be refined.
This process takes the outline Business Case form the Project Brief and the resource requirements from the Project Plan.
From these a refined Business Case is produced that is later incorporated into the Project Initiation Document.
[see Initiating a Project (IP) - part 4 - Refining a Business Case and Risks (IP3)]

At times the Business Case may need additional revision.
The objectives are to revisit and revise, where necessary, the costs, benefits, risks and timings stated in the Business Case.
These may have been affected by internal or external events.
[see Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) - part 4 - Updating a Project Business Case (SB3)]

Under PRINCE2 2009 the purpose of the Business Case theme is to establish mechanisms to judge whether the project is (and remains) desirable, viable and achievable as a means to support decision making in its (continued) investment.
It is a PRINCE2 principle that a project must have continued business justification.
[see Business case - Purpose]

When setting up, and particularly while running the project, it is all too easy to concentrate on what is being done and how it is to be done, while ignoring why it needs to be done.
The Business Case states why the work is worth doing and, as such, is a crucial element of the project.
[see Starting up a project – Activities - Prepare the outline Business Case]

As in PRINCE2 2005 the outline Business Case produced during Starting up a Project needs to be updated to reflect the estimated time and costs, as determined by the Project Plan, and the aggregated risks from the updated Risk Register.
[see Initiating a project – Activities - Refine the Business Case]

In similar fashion to PRINCE2 2005 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] the Business Case may need modification later in the project.
The Project Board is ordinarily only authorized to continue while the project remains viable (that is, the benefits will be realized within the cost, time, quality, scope and risk parameters set out in the currently agreed Business Case).
Projects, however, do not take place in a static environment.
The environment external to the project changes, as do the nature and timing of the project’s products.
The Business Case needs to reflect these changes and must be reviewed and amended to keep it relevant to the project.
[see Managing a Stage Boundary – Activities - Update the Business Case]

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