Working in an organization implementing Benefits Realisation Management?

The most powerful and utilitarian aspect of Benefits Management is that it enables and brings them together in an integrated package; each element reinforcing the worth of the others. Each of the factors detailed below stand up in the in their own right as being advantageous to organisational change:

  • everybody has a sense of purpose
  • no one can ‘just’ make changes
  • people know who is responsible for what change related function
  • there is a common approach to the management of change
  • change only gets easier as lessons learned are captured and communicated across the organisation
  • opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked or perceived as adding little value can be explored and evaluated for their real worth to the organisation; these can and often do      come from within the workforce
  • changes where the evidence show little or no gain to the organisation can be stopped relieving the pressure on those personnel labouring on difficult or unpopular change projects
  • the confidence in the organisation to deliver beneficial change is high
  • issues and problems associated with change are ‘surfaced’ and dealt with swiftly
  • change is something that the organisation can embrace rather than be anxious about
  • individual and functional goals are easier to manage
  • people have a platform for  greater collaboration
  • the greater expectation placed on individuals supports the organisation’s leadership aspirations
  • a portfolio of change projects can be established where each is selected based upon its evidential contribution to the organisation’s goals 

There are further organisational gains that could be added as  direct result of using Benefits Management but they are more related to business performance rather than the experiences of individuals which is the focus of this post.

It must be stressed that Benefits Management enables and supports these desirable outcomes but in order to achieve them significant cultural change must be examined and made. The Benefits Management rigour does though enable the context and agenda for such change to be made.

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Benefits Management in support of Organisational Change

To be effective, the Benefits Realisation Management discipline needs must work in concert with an organisation’s Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management capabilities; this presentation highlights some key, mutually beneficial and interdependent, aspects common to each.

Benefits driven change – a quick look

The Benefits Management ‘movement’ has gone a long way to enabling effective Organizational Change. Having said that it is worth emphasizing what the Change Management enablers actually are lest they be overlooked and not exploited to their full potential. The key attributes of Benefits Management that support Organizational Change are:

  • it provides a context for general change discussion it sets an agenda for change that everyone can relate too
  • it lends itself to process and procedure and thereby enables a platform for continuous improvement
  • it reinforces the need for effective stakeholder identification
  • it produces and validates change related information
  • it enables agile organizational change management
  • it enables alignment of change activity with organizations strategic objectives
  • resources can be directed toward those change needs that provide the greatest business benefit
  • realistic prioritization of change project and programmes can be made with the availability of accurate and timely information

The role of Change Management

It is evident that Benefits Management has the potential to provide a significant boost to the results of Organisational Change initiatives but there is much to suggest that the increased utilisation of Change Management knowledge and practises would increase those gains further.

However, although recognised as a key management discipline, the role and utility of Change Management is often ‘under-estimated’ and ‘under-exploited’ resulting in unnecessary stakeholder uncertainty and frustration which, in itself, can have a significantly adverse impact on change performance and increase the build up of resistive and regressive forces.


Whereas the Benefits Management discipline tends to treat a specific change as a ‘black-box’ up until its deployment is being considered, Change Management manages the overall organisation’s readiness and preparedness for change and seeks to go ‘inside the box’ to analysis and expose the characteristics and nature of the changes to be made e.g. people, systems, process, behaviour, culture, environment etc at the earliest opportunity in the process.

ben v change 5

In raising the profile of Change Management, the role that Benefits Management plays in implicating the organisation’s personnel in the identification and design of the required changes should not be ignored. When combined, the practises and rigour of Benefits Management and the learning and experience of the Change Management discipline do much to enable successful and sustainable change.

Considering the Change Manager

It is apparent that there is so much that can be done to understand the needs of a given change such that, for every facet for which an understanding is achieved, a reduction in the risk of its failure or an easing of its passage is gained. This pragmatic perspective also suggests that, to be effective, a Change Manager must have a minimum set of skills and qualities; Kanter (1989, cited in Buchanan & Huczynski, 2004 p.634) suggests that these include: 

  • ability to work independently, without management power, sanction and support
  • an effective collaborator able to compete in ways that enhance cooperation
  • the ability to develop high trust relationships, based on high ethical standards
  • self-confidence, tempered with humility
  • respect for the process of change, as well as the content
  • able to work across business functions and units, ‘multifaceted and ambidextrous’
  • the willingness to stake reward on results and gain satisfaction from success

It is possible to relate these attributes to many management roles but the important point to note here is that the management subject and context is ‘change’ i.e. helping organisations and people to do things differently. 

The need to see things from the perspective of others plays an important role in enabling and progressing change (Paton and McCalman, 2008) with this in mind, and based upon his personal experience, the author would also add the ability to empathize with people to this list. This suggests that a Change Manager may well be more effective if they have working knowledge of the practices in the arena in which they are operating and also that they have non-change related man management experience.  

During a formal discussion of a change related topic it is the Change Manager; with no other agenda except the successful outcome of the change effort, who speaks out, albeit in context, in support of the specific change management need. Not an easy proposition because as Machiavelli, quoted in De Caluwé and Vermaark (2003), writes: 

‘nothing is more difficult to take on, more precarious to lead, or less certain of success than introducing new things, because the person introducing them makes an enemy of those who fared well under the old situation and those that might fare well under the new situation do not (yet) defend it zealously’ 

Although certain aspects of change management will be apparent in functional areas of an organisation such as Engineering & Project Management i.e. measurement, control, impact assessment etc. they would not be generally recognisable as pertaining to the science of change management. It is the willingness of the Change Manager to take on multiple and sometimes conflicting agendas seen as necessary for them to be successful change agents that sets them apart from other arbiters of change in an organisation (Buchanan and Boddy, 1992). 

No different from another occupation, Change Managers are always learning and there is no shame in having weaknesses or even gaps in experience that need filling. But paramount is the need for the Change Manager, with often so much at stake, to be able to operate as a neutral force for good (Paton and McCalman, 2008), declaring when appropriate, limitations which, if left unacknowledged, could adversely impact the performance of a given change. A consequence of this is that the Change Manager must be prepared to grow in the role and constantly learn from his experiences.  Kolb (1984 p.1) states that: 

‘our survival depends on our ability to adapt not only in the reactive sense of fitting into the physical and socials worlds, but in the proactive sense of creating and shaping those worlds’ 

This must surely be the case for the Change Manager who, using his own individual change management style must work to do what is required to achieve a given change within the presented context. The Change Manager must leverage his knowledge and interpretation of the available reference material to analyze the prevailing change scenario and provide a service such that an appreciative but effective understanding is gained and an appropriate strategy produced and successful outcome achieved. This fundamentalist stance, when coupled with ‘whole solution’ cyclic approaches that include such stages as problem definition, context, diagnosis, intervention and monitoring, together provide the Change Manager with a basic framework and toolkit with which to work. 

Stages may be revisited iteratively, as the change initiative progresses to enable the change environment and context to be fully revealed and reconciled. Within this cycle other models can be used to learn from experiences and feed that learning back to produce an evolved way of working (Buckler, 1996 cited in Paton and McCalman, 2008) (Kolb, 1984) (Argyris, 1977a).


Buchanan, D & Huczynski, A (2004) Organizational Behaviour, An Introductory Text, 5th edit, Harlow, England, Pearson Education Ltd

Paton, R and McCalman, J (2008) Change Management – A Guide to Effective Implementation, 3rd edit, London, Sage Publications Ltd

De Caluwé, L and Vermaark, H (2003) Learning to Change: A Guide for Organization Change Agents, London, Sage Publications

Buchanan, D & Boddy, D (1992) The expertise of the Change Agent, Public Performance and Backstage Activity, 1st edit, Hemel Hempstead, England, Prentice Hall International (UK) 

Kolb, D (1984) Experiential Learning, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc

Argyris, C (September-October 1977a) Double loop learning in organizations, Harvard Business Review, pp. 115-125

A focus on the people side of Benefits Realisation Management

The mainstream Benefits Management discipline goes some way to establishing the need for effective people engagement. Having said that, it is from a Change Management perspective that the full potential that positioning of people engagement within Benefits Management can be fully appreciated. It is only when this Change Management understanding is leveraged that its true worth can be realized. The key organizational Change Management enablers include:

  • the provision of pre-defined processes – overt knowledge of the process provides for a confident change arena
  • the fact that Change is now an organizational constant is much more palatable when relatable to a credible organizational change capability 
  • pre-defined Change Management related roles and responsibilities – this open culture enables frank and realistic communications
  • overt discussion around organizational strategy enable the disclosure of concerns that may otherwise not be sought but that could impact downstream change performance
  • benefits identification – the insight provided from the people that ‘really know’
  • benefits ownership – having agreed what benefits are to be achieved this key step enables the ongoing focus on benefits rather than change delivery
  • control of organizational change dynamic – effective decision making is enabled through the accessibility of accurate and validated change information. Both for the people making management decisions but those that are impacted by any subsequent changes.
  • enabling ability to ‘stop’ this change projects which are unable to evidence linkage to the organizations strategic objectives
  • participation of stakeholders within the change process – simply having a change process and understanding where the current changes are in that process helps build a trusting environment
  • implication of stakeholders in the definition, measurement and realization activities
  • although the need for effective communication is much vaunted it is often nebulous and weak on meaningful content. Benefits Management provides for accurate and timely information as all stages of the initiative including strategy, projects, programmes and overall portfolio performance
  • the fact that Benefits are generally realized at the back-end of change initiatives ensures that business performance is kept on the agenda.

Addressing the ‘what’s in it for me?’ factor

In my capacity as a practicing Change Manager I have been looking closely at the subject of Benefits Management. I was drawn to it because it was clear to me that, appropriately managed, this was an approach with enormous potential as a vehicle for achieving effective organizational change. For me, the most striking feature of Benefits Management is the opportunities it presents, across the entire change lifecycle, to engage and implicate personnel from the whole organisation. The approach negates many of the issues surrounding stakeholder management and in particular change resistance, which can be completely mitigated.

However, I feel that to date, Benefits Management, by being promoted in the main by the Project Management fraternity, has not been exploited sufficiently for Change Management worth and utility. In the author’s opinion, organisational Change Management, a management discipline in its own right, must be able to call upon the capabilities of all other related disciplines to contribute to the delivery of its goals; in this case benefits and project management.

By their very nature, projects and programmes are both objective and temporal in nature whilst Change Management with its unique pan-organizational positional influence, is more subjective and, with the interests of the whole organization in its scope, provides for a continuum that personnel, being able to move between projects and programmes, are able to embrace the organization’s Change Management ethos.

Event ROI


This post recognises the great work being undertaken by the ROI Institute and luminaries such as Elling Hamso which has provided me with the insight I needed to improve the experience of those engaged in benefitsdrivenchange.

As stated previously, one of the distinct attributes of Benefits Management is that it positions and sets the expectation for all stakeholders within a change initiative. But identifying stakeholders and engaging them meaningfully within the change process needs careful consideration and preparation. This is where the thinking behind Event ROI can be exploited.

Fundamental benefits realised through Event ROI

The basic benefits of using Event ROI thinking in the benefits cycle are:

  • Reduce the overall cost of change to the organisation
  • Provide for a richer and more inclusive organisational culture
  • Understand the costs associated with staging event
  • Be able to calculate the ROI of each event
  • Develop and improve event management to ensure optimal ROI is achieved

Essential to the activities within the change lifecycle is that the participants are enabled to contribute to the full. That is that the event organiser and the each participant achieved a valuable and rewarding outcome. To do this they must feel confident and willing to challenge norms and explore areas of interest that may be outside of their current thoughts.

Take the example of Benefits Workshop; that is a workshop activity being undertaken to identify and gain a common understanding of what ‘Benefits’ and ‘Dis-benefits’ should are to be realised through the successful meeting of a given objective.

Drawing on the thinking and methods promoted by the ROI institute the following can be seen as relevant to an activity:

  • Both for the event organiser and each participant the following should be established:The process for organising the event can be analysed and improvements to increase the ROI made
    • Their objectives to be met as a consequence of the event
    • A method measuring to what degree the objectives were met must be established
  • The process for  organising the event can be analysed and improvements to increase the ROI must be made

This approach has the added benefit that all of the stakeholders will have had the opportunity to prepare for the event and be able to participate more effectively.

Left to right; is it simply a matter of choice?

When it comes to models and methods it can be seen that those that conform to natural norms are easier to relate to e.g. in the Western hemisphere we fairly consistently read, write and depict process flows in a ‘left to right manner’ (L2R). In fact, generally speaking, we only use alternative representations if we want to depict something that is travelling or looking backwards.

This is the main reason why conforms to the left to right norm. All of its objective and development flows are evolutionary ‘Left to Right’ representations. This does not of course mean that other representations are wrong; it just means that they are different.

Left to Right (L2R) advantages:

  • the most left hand element within a L2R flow represent the vision and strategic objectives of the organisation which means that all stakeholders can immediately assimilate to the rationale for the changes in which they are engaged
  • the L2R representation infers that all things that emanate from the Left (from which ever point you are at within a flow) are in the higher order interests of the organisation
  • the rigour behind the benefits management approach means that everything emanating from the left has been validated and both accountability and ownership for its function and management has been allocated
  • where occurrences of ‘unconnected’ downstream elements occur they ‘must’ be connected and reconciled with the L2R flow
  • where mandated solutions are to be implemented effort must be expended to ‘connect’ them within a L2R flow
  • although focussed on the ultimate realisation of change benefits at each stage of the evolutionary flow attention is given to the identification and reconciliation of the disbenefits associated with an upstream objective or benefit. Disbenefits are best managed at the point they are identified within the evolutionary flow. Late identification of disbenefits can result in considerable rework and otherwise unnecessary disruption

Note: although the process described above is referred to as an evolutionary flow, in the main this representation is used to model transformational or discontinuous change.

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