Benefits Management – a Program Management Fundamental

The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind ― Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”O” font=”Dancing Script” background_color_class=”otw-blue-background” size=”large” border=”border” border_color_class=”otw-silver-border” shadow=”shadow”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]rganizations initiate projects to deliver business value.
In the world of program management, business value is translated into benefit that can be delivered incrementally or as the result of a finished program.
The focus of this article is on initiating a program that will deliver incremental benefit to the organization and the stakeholders with a vested interest in the program.
Programs vary in terms of the goals and objectives.
Return on InvestmentFor example, a program can be initiated with the goal of delivering change, product or an organizational process. A program chartered with delivering an extensive change or the transformation of a large number of inefficient and outdated business processes within the organization, would identify the processes that need to change, the cost of implementing the change and the benefit derived from the change. This type of program may take years to implement and recognize business value and may have many interdependencies.
The practice of program benefits management involves vision, creativity, and good listening skills.
A program manager accurately documents the benefits of the program defined by the organization and translates the benefit into components.
A component can be a subprogram, project or activity that delivers value contributing to the benefit. This may sound good on paper however tactical application is usually not that straight forward.
For example, there may be a clear definition of where the organization would like to be at the end the program; however, there may not be anyone who can clearly translate this information into a program. The steering committee or program board may not agree on the value or priority of the work, the program may not be sponsored and therefore does not have the proper representation within the organization. These are just a few of the speed bumps a program manager may encounter during the initiation of a program.
GoalsProgram managers need to take a broad view of the program goals and objectives, while keeping in mind the organizational culture and processes that will make up the program environment. It is critical that the program has the proper level of representation and governance at the executive and senior management level, in order to navigate the program environment.
Benefits management involves identifying, defining, increasing, recognizing and sustaining benefit delivered through a program. Therefore, it is imperative that the program team can measure the benefit in order to maximize, recognize and sustain the benefit.
We need to know what we are looking at when it shows up!

Starting at the beginning of the list, the identification and definition of program benefits management involves more than just the program manager. With a solid business plan in hand the program manager, along with the program team and stakeholders, can define the benefits. Benefits definition is uniquely defined and produced by the program. The benefits are defined by the organization that will also realize the benefit.
For example, expanding the market presence of the organization is realized by the sponsoring organization, while benefits from process improvements may be recognized by integrated suppliers partnered with the organization.
business_improvementIn conclusion, the initiation of a program involves activities that will improve the program manager and program team’s ability to deliver the program successfully. Program success is directly related to the realization of the benefit based on the definition of the benefit. Program benefits management is performed through a series of activities that result in the successful recognition of benefit through the execution of a program. Benefits are defined through a process that seeks to clarify and give meaning to the program.
Program management is multifaceted and it encourages stakeholder focus and engagement in the delivery of benefit and successful completion of the program.
Program management is an engaging discipline that incorporates principles, methodology, and techniques to foster team work and persistence in an ever changing environment.
This article touches on a small segment of program benefits management and some of the issues and risks a program manager may encounter when initiating program benefits management.


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