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Benefits Realization Plan


Quick Summary
Screenshot Don't settle for a vague sense that the project was a good thing. A Benefits Realization Plan documents the expected benefits of the project, details how they will be measured, and captures those measurements for later assessment and use in lessons learned.


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What this is

A Benefits Realization Plan documents what the expected benefits of a given project are, and details how they will be measured, including who is accountable for measuring them and when. This template documents the plan for benefits measurement, as well as the results of the measurements themselves. The first part ensures that impacted stakeholders have the same expectations regarding measurements; the second part ensures that the measurement results are communicated as well.


Why it's useful

A Benefits Realization Plan helps ensure that the benefits of a given project are:

Knowing the benefits up front also helps you understand which requirements tie most directly to the expected benefits, so those requirements can be prioritized and protected against undesirable changes. Stating the expected benefits up front also allows leadership to evaluate the expected benefits and costs of a given project, and prioritize project efforts accordingly. As an added benefit, historical information on actual benefits realized (or not) by previous projects can help executives make better decisions when prioritizing future efforts.


How to use it

  1. Identify the expected benefits and state them in a measurable way, separating hard benefits from soft benefits. Hard benefits should be stated in terms of scientifically measureable time, units, etc., that are then translated to dollars. Soft benefits should tie directly back to organizational goals. Publish these expected benefits up front, to encourage team accountability for them. Become familiar enough with the expected benefits that you can identify requirements directly linked to them. Communicate any changes that impact the expected benefits as soon as you're aware of them.
  2. Take a baseline measurement of the current state, for comparison to the eventual post-project measurements, and record those baselines in the tables in Part 1.
  3. Assign someone to measure each expected benefit. Some of those measurements may be taken during the project lifecycle, but some will not be possible until the project is complete. Make a point of ensuring that the person assigned to measure the benefit understands what they should be measuring and when they're supposed to measure it.
  4. To the best of your ability, ensure that the measurement is taken. If the measurement won't take place until after the project is complete or the team disbanded, you may want to use calendar reminders. Make sure the measurement results are published and communicated as well.
  5. Once you create the plan, keep it handy so you can actually conduct the measurements and communicate the results.
About the Author

Sinikka L. Waugh, PMP, is the founder and head coach of the project management coaching firm Your Clear Next Step, L.L.C. Sinikka is an actively practicing project management consultant, known for consistently helping teams find innovative ways to leverage effective project strategies across multiple disciplines and technologies. With over 10 years in project roles (primarily program manager, project manager, and business analyst) Sinikka has successfully applied project and leadership expertise to improve project performance in a wide variety of industries, including publishing, education, product fulfillment and distribution, insurance, event and travel management, human resources, and financial services. As a coach, Sinikka's down-to-earth, "try this now" approach blends with her passion for helping others improve. Her energetic and engaging style helps make both the art and science of project management accessible to those she works with.

Sinikka holds a BA from Central College, an MA from the University of Iowa, and is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute.


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