Agile best practice relies on the rapid delivery of value. Having clarity regarding the potential business benefits of an initiative is therefore key. Benefits are used to prioritise work at the agile portfolio, release and sprint planning stages.
Many organisations in the past used benefits to justify an investment decision in a project. When adopting agile teams are now forced to think how proposed features will contribute towards the value derived. This is important as organisations face a situation where regulatory and compliance initiatives take a consistently significant proportion of the firm's internal investment budget. Using benefits management techniques give firms the focus to achieve their desired business outcomes in financial or non-financial terms. For example: being clear about benefits allows an organisation to cleanse the project backlog of proposed activities where the business case is marginal or where situations have changed and the benefits are no longer achievable.
Benefits management is the process by which the organisation ensures that its investments achieve the desired outcomes. The result is that investments are made in the critical projects over those with lower priority. Our activities increase the benefits achieved by projects. This increases the value generated by agile and stopped money and resources being diverted onto less worthy activities. Our activities have also encouraged realism in the potential benefits claimed. We have seen the following outcomes:
- Increased measurable benefits across a portfolio from 52% of target to 78%
- Reduced portfolio backlog of $65 million by 10%
Benefits Management starts with the business case ensuring that the desired project outcomes are explicit from the outset. This is so that these benefits can be protected and further down the project lifecycle. Benefits management in starts at the point of project visioning, are clarified as the project progresses and concludes with benefits realised. During the project, it answers questions like:
- Why are we doing this?
- Do we understand the business objective?
- Have we defined all of the benefits in terms of business metrics?
- How will we measure the benefits?
- Is the project still valid?
- Are the benefits still relevant and achievable?
Our consultants use a benchmark current performance in order to provide measurable improvement goals. Starting with improving the statements of benefits in the initial business case and the subsequent restatement and expansion of the benefits definition during the project life; our consultants assist sponsors and teams to realise that the so-called Iron Triangle now has a fourth point, benefits or business outcomes.