Five ways for project managers to start realizing benefits

Group of project managers standing in front of a board discussing their work

For many project managers, their role in Benefits Realization is viewed as 'not my job' or out of scope for their role.

Lisa HodgesThis attitude will be the death of the 'old school' project manager in a world that is much more socially conscious and holds people accountable for their actions.

So, project managers need to step up and take ownership of ensuring benefits planned equal benefits realized. This is more about what does good look like rather than what does “done” look like.

Traditional vs accountable

The traditional project management triple constraints of scope/cost/time – with quality somewhere in there – tended to mean delivering on time, budget and scope regardless of quality. This didn’t help the people left to deal with the product of the project.

Organizations still need project management, but not the way it’s been done in the past. In this age of accountability project managers who want to be regarded highly need to be better stewards of the resources entrusted to them.

Established ways of working are changing: with Agile and Minimum Viable Product (MVP), the MVP should not be the last word in customer benefits; additional benefits should follow and project managers must ensure that.

Previously, when project managers obtained their knowledge solely from the PMBOK, methods were taught by other project managers, mentors and coaches in organizations; often, their methods were becoming obsolete, which led to upwards of 70% of projects considered failures.

With PRINCE2® and the notion of benefits realization, project managers are embedding this concept of future benefits into the present.

Therefore, how can project managers ensure they have a role in realizing benefits

1. Understand PRINCE2, how all the pieces fit together and use the methods.

2. Read the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide: look at the concept of Servant Leader, in which you take on the role for the project but also the recipients of the project.

3. Defining benefits and value: project managers should collaborate with others regarding non-financial benefits. For example, business relationship managers are a tremendous source of information. Collaborating with the right people will help to define what benefits and value look like from the customer/end user perspective.

4. Gaining some ITSM knowledge can help: is there a project that doesn’t rely on technology to deliver and run the product of the project today? ITIL® does a great job in identifying stakeholders in a technology project and offers guidance about the product of the project; it has to be acceptable and usable by the customer and those operating it day-to-day. The project manager needs the designer, developer and architect perspectives but also the view and engagement of operational staff regarding what’s beneficial and maintainable.

5. Project managers need deep knowledge of other disciplines and tools to continue their own development and that could include expertise in user experience.

Organizations today are working hard to develop practices that will deliver 'in the trenche'”; but there’s a fundamental gap in portfolio management which is failing to link the strategic with tactical and operational activities. Strategists need to make the link between what is happening today and how that will deliver success for the organization in the future.

This includes a re-thinking of project management methods and positioning project managers to be successful. The role of Servant Leader and accountable, corporate citizen, rather than authoritarian project manager is necessary for long-term organizational benefit.

Read previous AXELOS Blog Posts by Lisa Hodges

How to be ready: the need for speed in ITSM 2018

Enterprise service management: deploying ITSM without the IT

Bi-modal/two-speed IT: the chaos with traditional and agile projects

PMBOK and PRINCE2®: how Project Managers can survive in an agile world

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