Establish the Benefits Realization Process

Stop dreaming about expected value and start delivering it!


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Your Challenge

  • People treat benefits as a box to tick on the business case, deflating or inflating them to facilitate project approval.
  • Even if benefits are properly defined, they are usually forgotten once the project is underway.
  • Subsequent changes to project scope may impact the viability of the project’s business benefits, resulting in solutions that do not deliver expected value.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • It is rare for project teams or sponsors to be held accountable for managing and/or measuring benefits. The assumption is often that no one will ask if benefits have been realized after the project is closed.
  • The focus is largely on the project’s schedule, budget, and scope, with little attention paid to the value that the project is meant to deliver to the organization.
  • Without an objective stakeholder to hold people accountable for defining benefits and demonstrating their delivery, benefits will continue to be treated as red tape.
  • Sponsors will not take the time to define benefits properly, if at all. The project team will not take the time to ensure they are still achievable as the project progresses. When the project is complete, no one will investigate actual project success.

Impact and Result

  • The project sponsor and business unit leaders must own project benefits; IT is only accountable for delivering the solution.
  • IT can play a key role in this process by establishing and supporting a benefits realization process. They can help business unit leaders and sponsors define benefits properly, identify meaningful metrics, and report on benefits realization effectively.
  • The PMO is ideally suited to facilitate this process by providing tools and templates, and a consistent and comparable view across projects.
  • Project managers are accountable for delivering the project, not for delivering the benefits of the project itself. However, they must ensure that changes to project scope are assessed for impact on benefits viability.


  • Bashar Kellow, Senior Project Manager at Entergy Services, Inc.
  • Brenda Hobbs, Director of Records and Document Management at Barrick Gold Corporation
  • Charles Stevens, Principal and Managing Director at Anderson Worth Management Consulting
  • Gerry Holmes, Director of Information Technology at the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division
  • Ralph Gardiner, Director at Kaihen
  • Rory Friedman, Vice President Operations at ILLUMITI
  • Sandra Ellis, Principal and Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Susan Kozik, Executive Vice President and CIO at Group Health Cooperative

Want to Participate in Our Research?

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  • Upcoming Workshops: Accelerate your project with an onsite, expert analyst to facilitate a workshop for you. Contact us for more details.

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Get to Action

  1. Design the project

    Structure the project and define the target state.

  2. Build the process

    Plan the benefits definition, management, and post-project realization processes.

  3. Implement the process

    Roll out the benefits realization process.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is an eight call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Design the benefits realization process

  • Call #1: Assess current state.

  • Call #2: Perform a gap analysis.

  • Call #3: Review high-level process design.

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Build the process

  • Call #1: Define benefits.

  • Call #2: Manage benefits.

  • Call #3: Track realization of benefits.

  • Guided Implementation #3 - Implement the process

  • Call #1: Facilitate buy-in and ongoing support.

  • Call #2: Assess success and address gaps.

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Design the Process

The Purpose

  • Kick-off the project.
  • Establish definitions and define your objectives for the workshop.
  • Assess your current approach to benefits realization.
  • Identify gaps that must be filled in order to achieve benefits realization success.
  • Map out the target benefits realization process.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An end-to-end process for benefits realization is mapped out. It will be based on our best-practice research and customized to suit your organization so that it can be made operational quickly.
  • Your governance structure for benefits realization is defined, increasing accountability for benefits from the time the business case is created until after the project is closed and benefits are realized.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Establish definitions.
  • Benefits definitions are established.
1.2 Define objectives.
  • Workshop objectives are defined.
1.3 Document pain points.
  • Process pain points are documented.
1.4 Define target state.
  • Target state (people, process, and technology) is defined.
1.5 Assess current state.
  • Current state of benefits realization is assessed.
1.6 Identify gaps.
  • Gaps between the current and target state are identified.
1.7 Map out the target benefits process.
  • An end-to-end process for benefits realization is created.
1.8 Define governance for the target process.
  • Your governance structure for benefits realization is defined.
1.9 Set targets for benefits realization success.
  • Benefits realization objectives are defined for your organization.

Module 2: Build the Process

The Purpose

  • Create specific guidelines for defining benefits before a project is approved.
  • Create specific guidelines for managing benefits after the project is initiated.
  • Customize the tools and templates that will be used to define and manage benefits and test your new process on real projects.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Specific guidelines, tools, and templates for defining and managing benefits are customized to suit your organization and documented for stakeholders.
  • Existing project intake and project management documentation is customized to reference benefits and help facilitate the benefits realization process.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Identify appropriate benefits control points in the project intake process.
  • Benefits realization is integrated with the project intake process.
2.2 Define business case inputs.
  • The business case template is customized to properly facilitate benefits definition.
2.3 Map benefits to organizational objectives and business unit KPIs.
  • Organizational objectives and business unit KPIs are defined to ensure that all project benefits will contribute to the organization’s success.
2.4 Document benefits for several real projects.
  • Benefits for real projects are documented to test your new process.
2.5 Create ownership and sign-off guidelines.
  • Ownership and sign-off guidelines are created to establish greater accountability for benefits.
2.6 Document a benefits sanity check.
  • A checklist is created that can be used to validate benefits before the project is kicked-off.
2.7 Identify appropriate control points in the project management process.
  • Benefits realization is integrated with the project management process.
2.8 Include benefits realization in the project charter.
  • Benefits are written into the project charter to ensure that the project is managed with benefits in mind.
2.9 Add benefits to the project kick-off agenda.
  • Benefits are written into the project kick-off agenda to help keep benefits “alive” as the project is executed.
2.10 Re-design the project change control process to integrate with benefits realization.
  • The project change control process is re-designed to ensure that benefits remain viable as the project progresses.
2.11 Create a more effective stage gate agenda.
  • The stage gate agenda is customized to mandate review of benefits viability before a project progresses to the next phase.

Module 3: Finish Building the Process and Implement the Process

The Purpose

  • Create specific guidelines for monitoring benefits realization after a project is completed.
  • Customize the tools and templates that will be used to track benefits realization and test your new process on real projects.
  • Finalize roles and responsibilities.
  • Create an action plan for rolling out the new process after the workshop is complete.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Specific guidelines, tools, and templates for monitoring benefits realization are customized to suit your organization and documented for stakeholders.
  • You are ready to implement the process designed during the workshop.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Document post-implementation review guidelines to facilitate better post-project benefits monitoring.
  • A post-implementation review approach is created to ensure benefits realization is tracked after a project is complete.
3.2 Assess benefits realization for completed projects.
  • Benefits realization is assessed for completed projects and lagging benefits are identified.
3.3 Finalize roles and responsibilities.
  • A plan for rolling out the new process is created and a customized benefits realization handbook is ready for distribution at your organization.
3.4 Create an action plan for implementing the new benefits realization process.

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Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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Search Code: 75860
Published: September 2, 2014
Last Revised: February 5, 2015

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