Consistent measurement and reporting of the benefits realized from projects is a key step towards portfolio management maturity. While it’s good to improve practices around identification, evaluation, selection and prioritization of projects, the proof is in the (benefits) pudding!
This is easier said than done.
It’s hard enough when the business cases for projects don’t clearly identify the expected benefits or when those benefits are intangible or difficult to measure. But it can be even more difficult when the sponsor and other stakeholders who were directly responsible for development of the business case or realization of the benefits are in different roles or are no longer with the organization.
There’s a lot to be said for requiring benefits reporting periods to be as short as possible – one year or less. However, sometimes even in that time period the individuals most closely associated with the project’s outcomes might have moved on.
This is why I recommend that the reporting of realized benefits be centralized within a portfolio support, finance or similar team outside of the original sponsoring department. That way, should a reorganization occur or the original sponsor move on, there is continuity and consistency of reporting.
There’s another reason to consider centralizing the benefits reporting function – independence. Don’t get me wrong – I am not impugning the integrity of sponsors. The way in which benefits are reported and analysis done against original business cases can vary widely. Given this, centralizing this function might help improve the quality and consistency of information reported.
The other benefit of such centralization is that identification and analysis of root causes for variance can be done at the portfolio-level resulting in practice improvements which will have a more immediate and broader benefit than if this activity was distributed.
Realizing the benefits of benefits realization requires careful consideration of the “who” as well as the “how” and “when”!