Benefit realisation management (BRM) is not just the newest business catchphrase, it is also a very effective methodology for correctly identifying project benefits, and comes into its own particularly when big budgets are in play.

Globally, business executives are embracing BRM to enable businesses to properly identify, track and deliver measurable value from the business case of a project through its execution and delivery phases.

In the project management arena, BRM takes place at programme or portfolio, not project level, because not all projects warrant it. But, when applicable, BRM is a phenomenal tool that tracks benefits through and beyond the project life cycle. And the latter is significant because it is important for businesses to keep monitoring that the project is delivering value after its completion.

Conceptually, every benefit has an enabler and, at project initiation, BRM verifies that all enablers have been identified and provided for. During execution, BRM monitors progress of the enablers, ensuring that they are correctly tested and handed off. And, once the project is closed, BRM transitions to operations.

Unfortunately, the process of selecting, justifying and prioritising projects is often influenced by subjective factors like personalities (he who shouts loudest, or holds most power, wins) and many projects quite simply don’t deliver the return on investment (ROI) promised at the outset, despite having been delivered on time and within budget.

BRM is a powerful tool in the portfolio manager’s arsenal, adding significant value when it comes to project selection and prioritisation; and allows the business case to be thoroughly interrogated and tested, at the start and every step along the way.

When one considers that, on average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time, while delivering 56% less value than predicted*, it’s clear that the time has come to find ways to identify and unlock benefits that tie in with the business strategy.

Veteran Project Manager, Tony McManus, CEO of McManus Consulting, says that South African companies have generally been slow to take up BRM, but this could be risky because basing a project on an untested business case is too subjective.

“BRM facilitates an objective structured process that interrogates benefits that are sometimes vague, speculative and unachievable. And it’s not just portfolio managers that will find BRM invaluable. Project owners, who have to measure the benefits beyond the project, into the operational cycle will find value in BRM too,” says McManus. His company now has a BRM consulting capability for clients that recognise the considerable value in this discipline.

*That’s according to a McKinsey survey of 5,400 large IT projects.

© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting.

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