What is the importance of detailing the benefit profile of a change programme?
At a time of significant change – such as now, when organizations’ entire business or operating models could be transformed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – benefit is everything. It is the entire reason for investing in a programme, the measurable improvement on the current state and a quantification of the strategic value it brings to an organization.
Conversely, a dis-benefit is the expected negative effect on someone as a result of change; part of the downside to weigh against the upside of a programme.
In one of the latest MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) templates – available through My MSP – the benefit profile helps programme managers define each benefit/dis-benefit. It provides a detailed understanding of what’s involved and how to realize the benefit.
The template’s hints and tips suggest your benefit profile should, as a minimum, contain:
- Description: what is the benefit?
This describes the experience in the business affected by change; the measurable improvement explained in language stakeholders and those realizing the benefit will understand. For example, it could be a percentage reduction in operating costs.
- Observable outcomes – what will be different?
What will change look like? It’s vital to validate with people affected by change what new behaviours and resulting benefits seem reasonable and, sensibly, give them a part to play in determining the best way to enact the differences in their routines.
MSP recommends using early tranches as a testing ground to check what’s deliverable. Doing things incrementally and progressively will help prove/disprove whether outcomes are possible.
- Attribution – where will the benefit arise?
Managers and teams are, beyond BAU responsibilities, also representing their employer in implementing strategic change and realizing performance improvement.
Attribution makes it clear who in BAU will be responsible for new objectives, behaviour change and the ultimate performance improvement the benefit represents.
- Measurement – how and when will it be measured?
Knowing whether change has happened needs information. Before you can measure change, take a baseline performance of what you plan to change. You might already be measuring that in the form of KPIs.
This information should be current, accurate and relevant; choosing the right thing to measure rather than what is simply available. In some cases, you might have a proxy measure, e.g. is absenteeism going up because of the dis-benefits?
Ultimately, it’s about gathering evidence of return on investment in the programme. This could include an “evidence event” such as groundbreaking on a new building.
It’s also necessary to think about how to measure ongoing benefits realization after a programme ends.
Completing your content checklist
Among the various elements to include in the benefit profile, it’s essential to ask whether the programme’s benefits align with organization objectives.
Not every good idea contributes to an organization’s goal, and the benefit profile needs to show this. However, while a proposed benefit might not fit an existing strategy, it could inform a strategy review if the idea is strong enough.
Also, an often-underestimated factor is the cost of benefit realization and change. Many organizations don’t see a programme as something that will disrupt BAU. However, if it’s allocated to people alongside BAU, the change elements go to the bottom of their list and benefits aren’t delivered.
Programmes need to invest in dedicated resources and not expect to achieve change and benefits free of charge. This includes asking the local team what it needs to enact change. By funding a business change and benefits realization budget, organizations reduce the risk that a programme won’t deliver its stated benefits.
Read Mark Sutton's previous AXELOS Blog Posts
Why PRINCE2 Practitioner gives me greater control
PRINCE2 templates – benefits management approach
7 essentials for a project, programme or portfolio dashboard
Starting a project with PRINCE2®
Achieving the endgame: product-based planning in PRINCE2®
When Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) goes back to school