In a way, we’ve felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein, trying to put together a living, breathing body (of knowledge) on sustainability thinking in project management. A small group of us who have labored in this area, writing books, presenting at conferences, starting LinkedIn groups, tweeting, working within our own organizations, even suggesting over 25 specific changes to the PMBOK® Guides over the past 5 years… we have been pushing for the fundamental idea that if project management – as a discipline – thinks PAST the end of the project, good things will happen. This focus on benefits realization is only one element of what we mean by sustainability thinking in project management, but it’s an important part – maybe even the monster’s heart.
Well, we are beginning to see the monster stir.
Recently, the PMI Pulse of the Profession report was released and it had some good news about PM – Project Management Success Rates Rise. It’s a headline. You can see it in press releases and on the PMI.org site itself. And the part we’re proudest of: it’s at least partially attributed to this focus on benefits realization and long-term thinking. Here are some examples proving that our monster is alive:
From Medianet of Australia:
“organisations are becoming more mature with project management and are distinguishing themselves by:
· Managing project benefits. There’s growing attention to benefits realisation management, which is the collective process of identifying benefits at the outset of a project and ensuring, through purposeful actions during implementation, that the benefits are realised and sustained once the project ends. One in three organisations (31 percent) reports high benefits realisation maturity.
From CIO magazine:
What's changed? The bottom line, according to Langley, is that organizations are becoming more mature with project management, and are focusing on benefits maturation and realization, instead of solely on cost, time and resources. In other words, there's less focus on the means by which a project is deemed successful and more on the ends: does the project deliver the business benefits promised?
"We're seeing this as a macro trend -- in the past, organizations might only think about benefits maturation and realization once the project had closed! But now, we see they're looking at that from the beginning and using that as a measure of success or failure," Langley says.
The Pulse of the Profession report says, in part:
"Since organizational performance includes an organization’s benefits realization maturity level, we have evolved our measure of success to include the percentage of projects that are completed on time, on budget, and meeting original goals and business intent with levels of benefits realization maturity. The organizations we are calling “champions” enjoy more successful business outcomes. They waste nearly 28 times less money due to poor project performance—and fare better at other measures of project completion
Benefits realization management (BRM) is a powerful way to align projects, programs, and portfolios to an organization’s overarching strategy. But the discipline has intimidated many, because there is no single, widely accepted BRM process to follow. Despite that, more organizations are taking steps to establish procedures for identifying benefits and monitoring progress toward achieving them throughout the project life cycle and beyond. In fact, 31 percent of organizations in our survey report high benefits realization maturity.
Organizations that report high benefits realization maturity also report better project outcomes – in the range of 30 to 60% improvements in budget, scope, and schedule, and, of course, meeting original goals and business intent."
The 2017 Pulse findings continue to show what we’ve learned in the past: that when proven project, program, and portfolio management practices are implemented, projects are more successful. At the same time, the definition of success is evolving.
The traditional measures of scope, time, and cost are no longer sufficient. Projects must deliver what they set out to do — the expected benefits. So, for the first time, when determining project success, we looked at levels of benefits realization maturity as well as the traditional measures.
Find out more at the most recent Pulse of the Profession report – available for free download. Just click on the cover page below and we’ll take you there. Or just follow us back to our laboratory…just follow Igor...