Realizing Benefits – It’s What Projects Are For!

Co-authored by Jeff Hodgkinson

Realizingbenefits4_mainWe believe a simple methodology can be applied to attain Benefits Realization. You can achieve true project success by ensuring that:

  • Project benefits are clear, concise and relevant in ‘value creation’ terms from the Business Case onwards, and that they directly relate to your organisational strategy
  • People are held accountable for achieving these benefits
  • Benefits stated in a Business Case are actively measured throughout the entire initiative, ie:
    • During the project lifecycle (particularly if it is released in phases)
    • After the project is closed
    • When the product/output starts to be used
  • Appropriate action is taken if required to alter direction (i.e. the organization changes course and the intended project benefits are no longer relevant)

Simple Process Flow for Project Benefits Realization


It Starts with a Good Business Case!

In the project management community, it is generally accepted that a project starts in earnest once a business case has been agreed to and various other initiation tasks are complete. The question now is, “Does your business case remain a core reference document throughout the project’s lifecycle?” or does it go into the project files, to be reviewed only if, say, key stakeholders request a change order or when project auditors visit?

Business cases vary in size and complexity. A business case, and the process to agree to it, should include the following elements relating to benefits realization:

  • Clearly show how the initiative contributes to the organizational strategy including the core reason for the initiative. There must be measurable benefits that specifically relate to the organization’s goals and objectives
  • People must be named as accountable for ensuring the benefits are achieved (and they must know and accept this accountability)
  • People must agree to these benefits being monitored over time, with appropriate adjustments made when necessary

Our Three Main Points

1. Contributing to the Organizational Strategy

Circulate your proposed business case benefits with all key stakeholders to ensure they “stack up”, and a ‘governance’ control group should oversee and approve key project decisions regarding agreed benefits, including business case approval. Remember, it can be all too easy to inadvertently omit certain stakeholders from the loop. From the beginning, ensure benefits monitoring is built into your project – it will keep you on track to deliver what your cstomer needs. It is most useful to include the strategy for tracking benefits in the business case. This can be high-level or it can be a detailed explanation, depending on the circumstances. One word of warning: benefits tracking can mean many things, and can be subject to lack of clarity without the right level of rigor being applied. The sample extract from a business case below shows benefits, accountabilities, metrics (if applicable) and the proposed timeframe for realization:


When assessing benefits, and following through in the post-delivery phase, one should talk to people across the organization vs. taking one person’s opinion as the complete story. Ensure that the focus is on creating value, and that it is realistic. For example, drawing up “use cases” of real-life scenarios of how people will perform activities with the new deliverables in place can help to define the realistic benefits. This is what may be termed “active planning” for change, rather than “passive planning” as it means you will understand the true value creation process. It can help ratify the scope and intentions of your project, which should mean the people nominated as accountable for achieving the benefits are confident of their delivery (and hence they should be comfortable in signing up to them).

A business case may not always state specific financial benefits. Projects can be charted to contribute to a strategic objective of an organization where:

  • Clear-cut financial returns are not directly evident.
  • Are Implemented as control measures in response to statutory requirements or legislation.

It is wise to include financial metrics in a Business Case only if they can be substantiated; financial justifications should not be included if you cannot justify and measure them (but track financial improvement in future if possible).

2. Assign Accountable People for the Benefits in your Business Case

The governance group you establish for your project plays an important part in ensuring benefits are measured once the project is closed and the operations or sustaining teams start to use the deliverable.

Assigning key people as accountable for realizing stated benefits should give a business case the importance it needs to ensure those benefits are traceable. The key to success is to make sure the benefits are realistic and measurable.

To link business case benefits with ongoing benefits realisation, we have found it useful to clearly state in the business case that a benefits realisation plan will be implemented to track the proposed benefits over the initiative’s total lifecycle. We have found it can be helpful to include the proposed benefits realisation plan tracking mechanism as an addendum to the business case.

One example format (many exist) is shown below:

View Larger

3. Monitor Project Benefits Over Time

Successful project delivery is an important first step to achieving business benefits – completing a project on time, budget and to expected quality levels sets the platform for ongoing success. However, what we are most concerned about in benefits realization is to ensure the deliverable that the project provides generates benefits as intended (or perhaps new, unforeseen ones) over its lifecycle.

Sometimes project deliverables need to be adjusted before the project is complete or at a point in time after project closure. For example, as circumstances change, unexpected external impacts arise, or new opportunities result in a change of organisational strategy. This is often true for long duration projects. Such changes need to be fed into the benefits realisation plan, so that it is kept up to date and is ready to be used as soon as the project closes.

We have found that benefits realisation plans can be structured in “layers” – that is, specific project benefits can be measured regularly and aggregated at a program and/or portfolio level for overall benefits assessment and tracking.

Our Conclusions

The realisation of project benefits can be considered to be dependent on the following five principle factors:

  1. Business case benefits should to be clear and concise, and relate to the organisational strategy
  2. Give your business case importance by assigning the people who will be accountable for achieving stated benefits in your business case (after obtaining authority to do so). Make sure the business case signatories agree and understand that benefits will be tracked and corrective actions will be taken in the event of a change or direction, or failure to realise the stated benefits
  3. The benefits stated in a business case should be actively measured through continuous participative engagement after project closure in a benefits realization plan
  4. Action should be taken if a benefit is not being realised (for example, if the organisation changes course or the project deliverables are no longer relevant)
  5. Lastly, giving people a continued focus on benefits throughout a project helps keep it on track, and for the “big picture” to be maintained. It is from this vantage point that we can ensure projects deliver the benefits they were intended for.

Summary Extract

Today, more than ever, project benefits need to be achievable, then realized and then sustained (maintaining relevance) when your project is complete and its output goes into use. Adopting a simple ‘project benefits realization tracking method’ starting from the project’s business case onwards can help you achieve this…

Mini Glossary:

Terms Used

Brief Description

Benefits Realization

What the project intends to deliver to the customer/stakeholder upon completion.

Business Case

Why the project is being done and what justifies the resources being used.

Project Lifecycle

The phases a project goes through between start to finish. Typically 3 to 5.

Project Benefits

What will be the long term results or gain derived after completion of the project.


Management group that approves the project charter and subsequent phases if needed.

Strategic Objective

High level business objective which the project has inclusion to achieving it.


A result gained either during or at the completion of a project.

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Gareth Byatt is Head of the IT Global Program Management Office for Lend Lease Corporation He’s a PgMP and PRINCE2 practitioner, and holds an MBA and first-class undergraduate management degree. Gareth has worked in several countries, and is currently located in Sydney, Australia. Gareth has 13 years of project and program management experience in IT and construction. Gareth can be contacted through LinkedIn.

Jeff Hodgkinson is the IT Hosting Transformation Program Manager. He is a 29-year veteran of Intel Corporation with a progressive career as a Program/Project Manager. Jeff holds numerous certifications and credentials in project and program management including PMI’s PgMP (Program Management Professional) credential. He obtained his PMP (#713) in 1991. He is located in Chandler, Arizona, and also volunteers in various support positions for the Phoenix PMI Chapter. Due to simply helping people, ‘Hodge’ as referred to by his many friends is one of the most well networked and recommended persons on LinkedIn.

Gareth and Jeff met through LinkedIn and share a common passion for program and project management theory and practices. Though they live half a world away from each other collaborate and co-author articles. Together they bring over 40 years of experience into their subject writing for the benefit of their colleagues worldwide.

Project Manager and Business Analyst In Tandem for Success

I’ve been working in project management and business analysis domains for many years. The projects I’ve been engaged in cover regulatory compliance, business process improvements, software development, ERP implementation and ITIL adherence, just to name a few.

Heated discussions about relationships between a project manager (PM) and a business analyst (BA) are often focused on their non-aligning sides rather than on their mutual efforts to ensure project success.

I tend to think about PMs and BAs working together in projects as two hands carrying a baby. Here is my view on the PM-BA tandem and how it comes together to make a project successful.

 How It Works

I’ve been involved in multiple projects for the last two decades. The projects were of different scales and nature. However, there is one common element in all of them:  a project manager and a business analyst are the two sides of the same coin. Their skills and joined efforts make a project successful and deliver good value to the business. I would like to demonstrate how a PM and a BA could work on a project, and explore each project phase in more detail. Please note that project phases and the documentation involved follow PRINCE2®.

Project Start Up

PM and BA work with project stakeholders throughout the entire project lifecycle. Before the project starts, a PM deals with business stakeholders to identify the business need at a high level. The outcome of this interaction is a Project Initiation document. This document outlines the business need, the impact of the current state on the business, the desired target state, project complexity, estimated project duration and expected benefits.


 PM-BA: Collaboration Model

Project Initiation

The PM engages the BA to help with project scoping and definition of the business need, expected project outcome (deliverables) and project acceptance criteria.

While the PM works on drafting a project plan, the BA develops a BA plan outlining BA deliverables, communication patterns with stakeholders, requirements management approach and estimation of effort. The BA agrees the BA plan and Requirements Management plan with the PM.

Once the plans are agreed, the BA works closely with the project stakeholders on clarifying the business need, specifying high level business requirements, conducting stakeholder analysis, identifying risks, assumptions and constraints, as well as tolerances to a solution. The BA determines solution scope, high level requirements, solution approach, reusable and new components to be used in the final solution. The BA works closely with the PM to align solution scope with project scope. The BA informs the PM about all identified and potential risks.

The PM maintains the risk register and develops mitigation strategies for the identified risks.

The joined efforts result in two key documents: Project Vision and Solution Vision. The former contains the problem statement, desired outcome statement, acceptance criteria for deliverables, stakeholder analysis, business context, assumptions, constraints and scoping definitions (in scope/out of scope).

The latter describes the problem statement, solution statement, provides a solution overview, stakeholder summary (RASCI), determines “to be” capabilities and business context, defines what is in and what is out of solution scope.

These two documents support the Business Case document in medium and large projects, supporting project sponsor’s decision-making on whether to go ahead with the project.

The PM and BA work jointly on developing a WBS to ensure that the solution can be assembled in a way that enables cost efficiency and adherence to project time and resource constraints.

Project Execution

This phase flags even more close collaboration between PM and BA. They work together in requirements workshops to prioritise and validate requirements. They conduct workshops with vendors of components to the solution (where applicable).

Changes to solution scope lead to changes in project scope so the PM applies change management process to ensure that only justified changes will be accepted. The PM maintains the change request register throughout the project.

BA’s reporting on progress in turn supports the PM’s reporting on project progress to the project sponsor and other interested parties.

The PM supports the BA in communication with solution architects, software developers and other engaged third parties with regards to solution validation activities. The same is true when it comes to user acceptance testing. The PM’s support is invaluable here.  The duo works hard to ensure that solution acceptance criteria will be met within the predefined tolerances. The BA facilitates solution implementation to ensure a smooth transition to the “business as usual” mode.

Project Closure

Having the project deliverables accepted by the business, the PM works on closing the project. The BA facilitates the project closure by providing feedback for the post-implementation review. The BA reports on how well the solution met the business requirements. They jointly work on the Lessons Learned log to ensure that all valuable information has been captured for further use in future projects.

The BA hands over artifacts such as business requirements, functional requirements, use cases, non-functional requirements and solution technical specification to the business. These artifacts form a basis for business documentation on how to use the solution.

When the project has been formally closed, the BA files all approved BA artifacts in a central repository.

Pain Point

From observing over the years how different PMs tackle their projects, I would like to highlight some things that can trigger a blaming attitude.

A bossy attitude to a BA, a lack of understanding of the business domain, skipping important project background where the rotation of PMs takes place, “managing” customer expectations without involving the BA, expectations of having the final solution requirements identified by the BA after a single requirements elicitation iteration with project stakeholders – all these elements create a foundation for blame for not delivering on time and under budget.


The complexity of modern projects has increased to a great degree. Changes to business processes are coupled with changes to business applications, IT infrastructure, and interfaces with the company’s environment. The PMs and BAs are required to be more productive in projects of different nature. My experience gained from over 35 projects confirms that to deal with the changing demands and make projects successful, the BA and PM should work in tandem pushing towards the finish line.

Shared responsibilities, mutual respect and support combined with collaborative attitude pave a way to project success.

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Sergey Korban has been in the IT industry for over 25 years and has hands on experience in business analysis, project management and software development management. He is passionate about making businesses more effective. You can find more of his articles on the Aotea Studios blog  

Has The Economy Changed How We Do Projects Forever?

Sept7FEATUREIn the continuing drumbeat of bad economic news over the past month, there is a fundamental underlying shift on how this economy has impacted project selection and execution. This is also an excellent opportunity for the creative risk-taking PM to gain a career advantage and strengthen the role of the PMO in today’s companies.

Trend Number One: Companies want to do more with less

We have all seen this trend and unfortunately some of us may be among the casualties of this trend. I advocate that Project Management is more important than ever to fully understand how we do the basic package of work in business: the project. I want to be clear in this area: the PM must be a hands-on PM not an administrator. The company needs to have a cost and

efficiency watchdog in the project and the PM should take on this role. In the majority of companies, the first question a new PM should ask is, “How many projects do we have ongoing?” I guarantee the answer is usually, “No idea!” I always find it amazing a company will spend the treasure of the company and have no idea what they are spending it on, but always think PMs are too costly! The PMO should also be at the vanguard in advocating the proper allocation of resources and ensure that a constant return is being delivered in each project

Trend Number Two: Trust has gone out the window

In today’s project, the team constantly hears of layoffs and constantly lives with the thought, Am I next, no matter how talented you are in your job. This trend may be very pronounced in your company or it is lurking under the surface and senior management does not want to acknowledge the issue. This trend is probably the most troubling today and will have a long-lasting impact. The members of your team may believe that creativity and thinking outside of the box is too risky and will open you to being on the layoff list. The team may also believe that they should not help other members of the team, and worse they believe that making the other person look bad is the best offense and takes the harsh light off them and their tasks. The PM must address this head on with the appropriate managers and get a solid buy-in from them as these petty issues will not be tolerated in the project. The PM along with the managers needs to then deliver that message to the team and all be held accountable if issues arise. The key here to remember is that TRUST=PRODUCTIVITY.

Trend Number Three: Give the customer their money’s worth

In many projects over the years, we all had the proverbial “day two“ list. In the new economy, the customer not only requests but demands their money’s worth. I am not advocating you throw to the side the idea of scope creep, but why would you now need to set a clear standard that a small change you classified as day two before needs to be completed to ensure the future revenue stream with the client. The PM must ensure the deliverables are fully documented and the communication is solid from all ends of the project so expectations are clearly set on what is being produced and when… 

Trend Number Four: Will companies ever undertake a large project again?

We have all been involved in the large mega project and wondered quietly, How can this ever be done on time, within budget? I am a practicing PM and I sometimes question the project fundamentals of these projects so a senior manager who is not a project person has even more doubts. I believe mega projects will not go away but funding will be more difficult, and PMs will be held to a much higher level of responsibility and be measured on the triple constraint. I also believe that as PMs, we need to advocate for strict approaches where we do wave planning and break projects into smaller components. I fully recognize the need for an agile approach, but please do not be enamored by phrases. The bottom line is you have to do the work the most efficient way possible.

I realize there are other trends but this article is meant to stress that in a down economy, strong Project Management is even more crucial to the execution of the company’s business strategy.

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Jim Hannon has over fifteen years of diversified experience in the Information Technology and Financial Services Industries, functioning primarily as a Senior Project Manager/Lead Business Analyst/Program Manager with proven experience in trading systems and numerous financial applications domestically and global. Jim currently holds his MBA, PMP, PM-RMP and is certified in Prince 2 fundamentals. Jim is planning on sitting for the PgMP and PM-SP in the next 6 months.  Jim also teaches Project Management at Boston University and Excelsior College and created the PM program at Excelsior. Jim is also a Senior Professor at Cambridge College. Jim works for a major IT firm and also has a consulting firm The Bentley Group, which offers PM and Business Analysis services.

A Surefire Plan for Improved Project Results and Increased Maturity

Many of the clients we work with are a “PMO of one.” Usually this person has been brought in to establish common processes and procedures around planning, managing and executing projects. Most often, there is a broad spectrum of project work being performed by varied project teams within the organization, including a range of maturity levels spanning from no established, repeatable processes to very formalized and documented processes.

According to the Project Management Institute, “Companies with greater maturity should expect to see tangible benefits that include better-performing project portfolios, efficiencies that come with better resource allocation, and increased process stability and repeatability.” [i] On the other hand, companies that are less mature tend to be reactionary, trying to dodge problems as they come rather than strategically planning and executing projects. Often, these companies have various groups working in their own silos, so there is no centralized view of resource availability or up-to-date project status. Project managers are consequently unable to prioritize projects or schedule them with accuracy. This can lead to lost opportunities and failed projects time and again. A new study on organizational maturity has confirmed the need for defined repeatable processes, finding that companies that use them have a much higher project success rate than those who do not. [ii]

So how can the “PMO of one” bring teams and processes together to get everyone on the same page, speaking the same language and doing things in similar ways? Here are some things to think about for establishing common project processes that can be adopted throughout the organization, providing better performance and tangible results.

Focus on the Critical Business Issue

There are a number of reasons why an organization would decide to unify its project management processes. It could be a response to client pressure, a desire for an additional competitive advantage, or part of the general evolution of the company. Other times, the lack of organizational maturity is leading to lost opportunities. Understanding the reason behind the shift will not only give you direction as to how you should approach it, but can also help project managers to find creative ways to address the issue.

Don’t just establish processes for the sake of establishing processes. Rather, let the fundamental issues you’re trying to address or avoid drive your direction. You might find, for example, that re-engineering your processes isn’t what you need at all. Perhaps providing increased transparency, visibility and collaboration around all of the projects across the organization better addresses the critical business issue.

Transparency, Visibility and Collaboration

Adding transparency, visibility and collaboration to your projects is integral to achieving better organizational performance. In a recent article, Gina Abudi recommends a central system or “portal” as a means to implement best practices and improve project results. [iii] This does not, however, have to be an overwhelming PPM solution. A simple, easy-to-use system to interface between time tracking, resource management and project scheduling allows businesses to retain processes that are currently in use while still benefiting from increased visibility to crucial data.

Software alone will not solve your critical business issue, but it can serve as a hub that provides one “pane of glass view” for all processes throughout the company. Keep in mind that it is necessary to choose the right system for your organization. A few key requirements are as follows:

  • Improved visibility of resource allocation, including project work, non-project work, vacation, etc.
  • Real-time status information across all projects with warning indicators and alerts
  • Integration between work requests, schedules, resource management, project roadmap and prioritization

A system that provides these benefits will enable project managers to focus scarce resources on the project that are most profitable. Project managers will also be able to keep track of which projects are on time and which ones are not, helping them to take immediate action as needed. Finally, they will no longer run the risk of scheduling a project under the assumption that certain resources will work on it, only to find out later that the resources are already allocated or will be out of the office.

Leverage What You Already Have

Just because you are trying to improve your organization does not mean that you should blow everything up and start over. Chances are you have processes currently in place that are working, and you should leverage these to get you to the next level. For example, you might find that despite the varied maturity levels, experience and background within your organization, most people are using Microsoft Project™ and Microsoft Excel™. A “rip and replace” approach where you force everyone to stop using these tools and start using a different system could have very adverse effects. Instead, you might look at how you can enhance and extend the tools, allowing people to keep the processes they are comfortable with while maximizing benefits and value.

Abudi agrees that you need to learn about what is currently being done throughout the organization before you try to make a change. Only then can you “discuss how standards may be developed organization-wide using a composition of processes already developed and being successfully implemented and filling in the gaps with new processes where needed.” In other words, rather than taking a standard like PMBOK® or PRINCE2® and forcing everyone to change their processes in order to uphold it, you can be a little more creative, retaining the things that work and improving or replacing the things that don’t.

Communication is also important because many employees will be resistant to change. They might be suspicious of your efforts to improve processes when they feel that the status quo is “good enough.” (Remember what Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Other Don’t: “Good is the enemy of great.”) It is important to instill trust in these people so they understand that you are not looking to replace their current processes, but to improve and enhance them. Buy-in from your team is necessary in order to achieve success because they are the ones who will be helping you to reach your goals.

Better Project Results

Whatever you introduce is going to represent change, so it is important to understand how much change the organization and team can take and be mindful of that. There is no silver bullet, and something that worked for one company may not be a good fit for another. Only you will know what your needs are, what will and will not be adopted by the organization and how much time, money and energy the organization is willing to spend in comparison to the potential return.

Don’t rely solely on software either. Remember to integrate your processes and people, and manage them well. Your software solution will need to empower team members and facilitate their work.

By evaluating existing processes, organizations can replace the weaker ones and maintain the stronger ones for optimal success. Integrating these processes in such a way that everyone involved in a project is on the same page provides a way to learn from your failures as opposed to repeating them.

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Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Since 1996, Journyx has remained committed to helping customers intelligently invest their time and resources to achieve per-person, per-project profitability. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1987. As a software programmer fixing bugs for IBM in the early ‘90s, Curt Finch found that tracking the time it took to fix each bug revealed the per-bug profitability. Curt knew that this concept of using time-tracking data to determine project profitability was a winning idea and something that companies were not doing — yet…Curt created the world’s first Web-based timesheet application and the foundation for the current Journyx product offerings in 1997. Curt is an avid speaker and writer.

Is this the Pinnacle for Project Managers?

The first managers to scale the pinnacle of Portfolio Management have recently qualified. Management of Portfolios (MoP) is the new Best Practice Guidance released by the Office of Government Commerce, a part of the UK Government which owns PRINCE2, MSP, ITIL and P30. Senior managers from the UK, Canada and Brazil, studied in March for the MoP Foundation exam in Scotland, on the first course run since MoP was launched in February 2011.

Is “pinnacle” too strong a word to describe MoP? Personally, I don’t think so. It is the top layer of best practice guidance that has until – now been – missing, so yes, it’s at the pinnacle – or apex – of the PM world. OGC has even adopted the pyramid as the MoP icon.

More importantly in these tough economic times – where every dollar or pound spent is under great scrutiny – it is the tool that can ensure a business delivers all its strategic goals effectively.

MoP is not going to be right for every Project Manager now. But I’m convinced that now is the right time to get in on the act: before everyone else.

What is MoP?

In simple terms, MoP could be described as the effective way to manage a national football squad – harnessing the skills of the celebrity club players, bringing together the different playing styles while reigning in star egos in order to create a slick team that can score goals and win matches.

In formal terms, MoP provides practical guidance for managers of Portfolios and those working in associated roles and areas. It is a co-ordinated collection of strategic processes and decisions that together enable a more effective balance of organizational change and business as usual.

As such, Portfolio Management provides senior management with reliable evidence enabling better and more informed investment decisions. It goes beyond passive monitoring of progress, to actively managing the composition and delivery of the Portfolio as a whole, as well as ensuring teams are energized, benefits realization is optimized and that lessons are learned and applied going forward

By Portfolio we mean “the organization’s investment and the changes required to achieve its strategic objectives”. In simple terms: Programs + Projects = Portfolio. For MoP, an organization could be a business unit, a department of a corporation, part of a public sector body, or a national branch.

MoP has five Principles which will underpin successful Portfolio Management:

  • Senior management commitment
  • Governance alignment
  • Strategy alignment
  • Portfolio office
  • Energized change culture.

MoP also describes the Portfolio Definition Cycle (identifying the right, prioritized, Portfolio of Programs and Projects) and the Portfolio Delivery Cycle (making sure the Portfolio delivers to its strategic objectives).

What can MoP do for a business?

What MoP offers an organization is a clear alignment between the strategic direction of the organization and what it is trying to achieve (ie its strategic objectives), through the Programs and Projects that are being delivered.

Portfolio Management determines whether or not there is a good fit to the strategic objectives. MoP helps managers determine if they are doing the “right” Programs and Projects and it may also highlight Programs and Projects which should not be undertaken.

In today’s rough economic climate, a clear line of sight between the business strategy and the actual benefits of the delivery of Portfolios, Programs and Projects can only help a business make the best decisions

Good Portfolio Management will help organizations: 

  • Run the right Projects and Programs, delivering a measurable contribution to strategic objectives
  • Remove redundant and duplicate Projects and Programs
  • Realize benefits that align with corporate strategy
  • Report effectively to improve transparency, accountability and corporate governance

Who should use MoP?

Obviously senior managers and directors in organizations who are responsible for a Portfolio of Programs and Projects should be using MoP. But I think it is also relevant for all the traditional Project and Portfolio Management professionals. (And here we’re thinking about program managers, program directors, senior responsible owners and business change managers as well as Project Managers who are looking to move up).

As the essence of Portfolio Management is the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders who will all have a contribution to make to the successful delivery of a Portfolio, this widens the net to senior managers in HR, IT, and Finance.

Are you ready for MoP?

If you are still not sure whether MoP is the next step for you – or your organization – then The Executive Guide to Portfolio Management is a good introductory guidebook from OGC. One of the book’s key features is a checklist “Are you ready for Portfolio Management?”  It helps you assess how far along the maturity model you are and how could you benefit from it.

The three-day MoP Foundation course, which the graduates took in Scotland in March, includes a 50-question multiple choice exam. There are no prerequisites for taking the training, although a familiarity with other OGC Best Practices would be useful as some of the concepts are common to PRINCE2, MSP, P3O and MoR etc. Later in 2011 an MoP Practitioner qualification will be available and the Foundation exam will be a prerequisite.

The trainer on the world’s first MoP Foundation course was my colleague Alvin Gardiner. He has been managing Portfolios for many years and is one of the most experienced Project Management consultants in Europe. Alvin, who is one of the first people qualified to train MoP, is an award winning PRINCE2 Practitioner, Trainer and Registered Consultant who was on the Scoping and Review Group for the latest refresh of PRINCE2.

Tackling change

Alvin’s experience across the broad PM world convinces him that MoP is just what many organizations have been looking for. “From my experience, organizations often struggle to get to grips with the change initiatives that they have underway and also the impact those change initiatives are having on the organization, and specifically how they align with what the organization is trying to achieve,” he explains.

“I think lots of initiatives start off because someone has a good idea. Where that good idea fits within the overall requirement of the organization and what it’s trying to achieve can sometimes be a challenge.”

Alvin adds that it is only when you start to pull together what the organization is trying to achieve in terms of Programs and Portfolios with what commitment it has to make, and then confirm that the Programs and Portfolios are actually the right ones, that the picture can begin to emerge. “When we start to get the level of senior management consideration and commitment to that, then they could see ultimately the future.”

Finding that “clear line of sight” from what is it you are trying to achieve as an organization to the benefits that you would like to deliver at some point in the future is the trick for Portfolio Managers.

“That’s why I think that the MoP guidance is a really useful contribution to the support of organizations actually achieving their strategic objectives,” says Alvin.

For all of us in the PM world, the recent economic woes have put the spotlight firmly on evaluation and rationalization of what organizations are undertaking. It is not surprising that interest in Portfolio Management has grown. The fact that the great wealth of experience has now been distilled by OGC into a Best Practice Guidance and it is available as a standard for Portfolio Mangers to follow, is definitely good news for Project Managers everywhere.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

Paul Atkin is a leading authority on the PRINCE2 Project Management methodology. He combines over 20 years of hands-on Project Management experience with a unique insight from personally training more than 900 PRINCE2 students. This gives him a deep – and intuitive – understanding of PRINCE2. As Founder and Chief Executive of Advantage Learning, http://www.advantagelearning.co.uk/ Paul has harnessed his enthusiasm to gather a talented team of PRINCE2 consultants and trainers who deliver official training on four continents.