Do you find that you need to focus more on business benefits in your projects? Why do you think this is happening? Give us examples if you can.
Nick Woodward said:
I would say that on the projects I am involved with, it is not a case of focussing more, but focussing exclusively on the business benefits being sought - both within the company and for our external customers. I think that this is probably because a "traditional", time, cost, quality approach, would often leave a potential gap between the project outcomes and the business outcomes and, unfortunately, on many occasions that gap was not filled - so the project would declare itself successful, while the business failed to get the outcomes it required. By aligning the project and its community clearly with the business outcomes we are seeking, I believe the project team make different trade-offs than they would if just focussing on TCQ. We have had several recent examples, where programme teams have been able to significantly enhance the business outcomes (cost reductions in those particular cases) with far lower investment costs - because they focussed on developing a programme of work to meet business outcomes, as opposed to designing a particular solution that we believed would be lower cost. In so doing, we actually found the governance easier too, because our outcome parameters (timing and cost performance in the business) were aligned, so as long as the programme was not changing those, they were free to make intermediate timing and solution desicisions with those constraints.
Alison McQuater said:
This comment relates to the second 'shift' identified: "passive recipient of someone else’s project brief to proactive contributor". A key challenge here is achieving engagement of the IT professionals in the ‘shaping' process early enough to make a positive difference. Operational/business leaders need to have a real appreciation of the potential of IT to transform, shape and enhance business operations so that they can engage their IT colleagues early in exploring and shaping potential IT enablers. If engagement happens later opportunities for business benefits may be missed, or the project ends up in a situation of having to try to ‘bolt on’ beneficial additions later on.
Yes, business benefits of projects are certainly of focus. What matters is not that you implemented a particular solution but that the chosen solution drives business value. As a result, PM's do get involved earlier in defining the value drivers for a project, attempting to try and quantify the value and then determine the best alternative to achieve that value.
Business wants to ensure that it gets the best value for the $$ spent. Full articulation of the expected business benefits also helps prioritize amongst a portfolio of projects. It also may help validate a person's instincts for value in a particular area.
Sharon Hartung said:
I would absolutely agree with this statement specifically from a project communication and planning perspective. In the case of larger projects, my experience has been that as a Project Leader you must be able to communicate not only the progress of the project at a moment's notice, but the value or business benefit that the project is delivering on. In the past the expectation of a Project Leader was typically to communicate information such as the project is on schedule, on budget and what was going to be delivered when. Now the expectation appears to be understanding, highlighting or helping to develop the value statements and communication related to the benefit or value the project is providing. In terms of planning, I would say that in developing a project approach and associated plan for a larger project, selling the benefits of how the project is delivered appears to be required equally as well as traditional project status information. Let me give an example: If you had a project that was going to take a year to complete, you would likely phase the project or have deliverables along the year roadmap. These deliverables would likely represent the necessary steps to the final goal, as well as a potentially valuable milestones for representing progress and measuring earned value and other metrics to suggest that we are achieving what we are suppose to achieve in the necessary timeline. Here's the new element related to the 'business benefits'. I have been involved in many situations where the planning approach needs to be justified or 'sold' by the Project Leader in terms of what 'business benefits' that the individual or early milestones or deliverables along the delivery roadmap will provide.
R. Max Widema said:
Halleluiah! Is it because "There's a new mindset among IT business customers these days. Increasingly, they're banking on IT projects to yield investment returns" or was it always so and it is because the project management community has finally dug itself out of its institutionalized love affair with "On time, within budget"?
R. Max Widema said:
Re: ""They may not always have the organizational authority to deliver the change and harvest the benefits, but they [project managers] see it as their responsibility to ensure that those who have the power and authority do so." I don't see how a lowly project manager can "ensure" that line management of a business unit garners the benefits of the product of their project. That has to be the responsibility of a higher management, i.e. corporate management.
joan vincent said:
This is more of a reaction than a response, however, there seems to be an intense interest in combining the job of Project Manager and Business Analyst. Somehow, it is assumed, this combination would be able to serve both the deliverable side and the benefits side equally. In my opinion this is not doable. Considering the context of "temperment" the job of a PM and BA are not compatible. Certainly appropriate core competencies can be learned but "temperment" is innate.
If a PM is expected to seek commercial applications for the Client the risk would sky rocket. I don't mean saving money, stream-lining systems, keeping costs down, I mean issues like ethics: how can the PM as a stakeholder make objective decisions if his/her future is connected to the product beyond the project? Ownership/copywrite issues: who owns what? Renumeration: how wouldl projects support the increased expense. How/at what point would he/she be evaluated? Legal implications: who is accountable for what and for how long?