In the State of the PMO UK Survey by Wellingtone and APM PMO SIG [published January 2016], Benefits Management was reported to be the hardest part of a PMO structure to successfully embed in an organisation.
The way I see it, there are a number of options for PMOs of any scale and type to achieve success in the Benefits Management space.
Control Everything: from project inception to closure and realisation
Supporting the team in defining benefits and measures, tracking opportunities, and facilitating the realisation reporting. This is tantamount to PMO doing benefits management in its entirety, and does carry with it a significant overhead of time and resources to manage effectively. Maybe this approach would suit a large scale Enterprise PMO?
Beginning and End View: focusing on the what and the when of Benefits realisation
Helping to define up front means that initially benefits are properly identified and defined and aren’t double-counted – a real problem in benefits management. However, if the project changes, PMOs may have to ‘dip in and out’ of the project on an ad-hoc basis – rather more often than they would like!
This ‘gap’ in the project life-cycle leads to a lack of ‘benefits visibility’ for the PMO – often mirrored in the Project Team. When things change, as inevitably they will, reviewing the benefits tends to fall through the cracks.
Define Key Touch points: for the PMO to work with the Project Team to identify, execute and sustain throughout the life-cycle
The formality of this approach helps the PMO to keep the Project Team focused on the end goal. However, it can also mean that as changes occur, the time to adjust can take longer due to a built-in lag in before the benefits logic is re-validated or plans re-profiled.
One thing is certain – whichever PMO structure is selected the post-project facilitation of benefits is KEY to making things work!
However, following the closure of a project, team members tend to go their respective ways, leaving the accountable owner[s] responsible for tracking benefits.
Now, I don’t know about you but, the accountable owners that I know are usually senior in the organisation and therefore; busy, involved with multiple projects and wearing many hats. Do they really have time to track all the benefits and chase information relating to the benefits of their projects? I don’t think so!
Is it any wonder, with the odds so heavily stacked against accountable owners tracking the benefits, that benefits don’t get tracked?
Enter the PMO
The PMO is well placed to collaborate with their peer teams [e.g. Finance and HR] to facilitate monitoring and reporting of post-project or programme benefits. This simple step adds enormous value to accountable owners and the organisation as a whole, as they come to see the PMO as a trusted business partner providing, amongst many other things, benefits realisation services.
Arguably, a similar options-driven approach to other project disciplines [e.g. risk or project accounting] will help to successfully embed other parts of the PMO structure in organisations.
Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton, Chair of APM PMO SIG will be sharing the stage with Reinhard Wagner, IPMA President as they present on ‘The Rise of the Enterprise PMO’ at Bringing Projects to Life on 17 June.
Emma says “It’s going to be a great couple of days and I’m really looking forward to learning together with an international cast of practitioners and thought leaders.
Why not come along and add your own thoughts to the mix – it’s all about the newest thinking; who says you don’t have the next big idea?”