Realising benefits

Benefits realisation is one of those things that everyone says is a good idea yet is so hard to realise.  That must be irony.  I’m not really sure why it is so hard but probably it starts with the way that aspirations are described.  When anyone has an idea it is only human nature to try and over egg the pudding.  You need to big up any likely benefits to garner interest from as wide an audience as you can, especially if you need some sort of commitment.  When it comes to delivery however the tables are turned and the natural order is to understate any benefits especially if this means that money is going to be taken out of your budget.  The threat of losing budget is the starting gun for the one hundred metres back-track.

Also benefits are hard to measure.  Money is the obvious and easiest thing to calculate but it can be a callous indicator.  Not everything can be measured in financial terms.  A beer from the supermarket and one from the pub can be the same product yet have a very different value proposition.  Measuring the benefit of a convivial atmosphere against the quenching of thirst is an impossible trick to pull off.

Now I accept that all investment in technology needs to release money, either through a lower cost product or increased efficiency yet this is only part of the picture.  The work I do releases and realises so many more benefits.  The customers know that, my service knows that and I know that yet they are very hard to measure and describe.

Peter has an approach though that might just work.  Justin told me I should meet up with him and so we did.  He described a methodology that identifies the linkages between the things that you are trying to deliver with the projects, procedures and processes that are laid out in your strategies and plans. It demonstrates them visually.  More importantly it shows you where the linkages are broken or don’t exist.  It also shows you the assumptions that you have to make to realise your objectives and encourages you to challenge them.  It makes you appreciate that your greatest ideas are as strong as the weakest link.

I liked the idea and thought it would be useful in helping us to build a picture around our New Ways of Working programme.  I talked to the leadership team about this and they felt it would be good to try it out on ourselves first before offering our full support.  We felt it would be better to eat our own dog food.

So that is what we did.  We met with Peter to look at the ICT strategy.  We’ve had our first session and I’ll let you know how we get on.

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