Benefits tracking – why bother?

Following a discussion I had last night about the issues surrounding benefits tracking for the business AFTER a project has been implemented, or more to the point, the difficulties in doing this, I got to thinking about this whole dilemma.  Here are my thoughts:

Sunk cost

When a business case is created to procure the funding for a project there needs to be something to weigh against the value of the spending.  Finance people aren’t happy for the business to say ‘give us the money’ without them being able to justify it and offset it.  So, the numbers stack up, finance hand over the money and the project becomes a reality. Everyone works hard and delivers the project and incurs the costs along the way. Yes, okay so the project has then delivered what it was meant to… or not, but guess what – the money has already been spent!

I have never seen a project ‘undone’ after it has been implemented, because benefits tracking hasn’t occurred.  It would be so unrealistic to do that.  The money has been spent – that is the reality.

If the business, via finance, doesn’t want to commit the funds to the project, then don’t. No project, no cost.

Once it is BAU no one cares

The business has had the trials and tribulations of having the project run around it, over it and through it, in order to deliver what it wants.  Once whatever has been delivered becomes ‘Business As Usual’ for them, they are then not really interested in having to take the time to track and measure the benefits.  The benefits for them are changing all of the time.  The business is too busy, doing their day to day work; getting on with business. So, why should they waste their time benefits tracking, they have what they need.

The benefits change

How many times have you seen a project scope change during delivery of the project?  The business case is not usually updated (unless you are a very diligent PM) to include any newly identified benefits and so when the project is finally delivered it looks completely different to when it started.   Another version of this is that the business itself has changed and evolved during the life of the project and therefore the benefits that were initially documented won’t now match or articulate to the current state of business.

So…  if this is the case

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Then why pester the business and dictate that they need to track project benefits?

Do the benefits stop being real once the project becomes BAU?  I don’t think so.

 

Karen

Written by Karen Munro