Tuesday 19 August 2008

Benefits in context

I know I've highlighted this before, but it's worth saying again - keep the end in your sights or you will loose sight of it. But with many public sector organisations managing hundreds of individual services, and in many cases over 100 innovations, keeping track of which projects are still delivering/ still relevant to the changing aims gets increasingly difficult.

There is a way. People rarely need individual services in isolation. Projects shouldn't be seen in isolation and this is the key to managing large numbers of benefits across multiple projects in a changing environment.

By gathering together the services and innovations that deliver to support a specific client group/ user group, you can identify a small set of standard benefits, create measures that can be aggregated, and use this standardised approach both to measure the delivery of innovation and services, and to report on it at project, workstream and board level. And this applies whether you are the provider of a single service or the commissioner of a whole range of services.

So: gather the workstream together and create a benefits dependency network and agree on it.
This defines the key benefits you hope to achieve from all of your projects, how they link with the organisation's objectives and aims, and how each individual project contributes to those key benefits.

Is this just a paper exercise? No:
  1. fewer sets of measures, clear definitions, and a straightforward way to aggregate
  2. when objectives change, you can see which projects are affected (which projects will deliver the "old" benefit and now need review to ensure they deliver the "new" benefit)
  3. you'll immediately spot which projects are working against each other instead of in concert

Notes when doing this:

  • you may identify a project (or even an existing service) which doesn't appear to contribute to any of the benefits you identified. Have you missed some benefits that need to be on the chart so they can be measured and reported? If not, could it be that this project or service isn't relevant any more? Hard decision
  • benefits with no projects contributing to them. do you need targetted investment? Does it have to come from you or from another directorate/ organisation?
  • aggregating projects: too many individual projects is confusing - spend at least 30 mins and probably longer working out what goes with what, at least in terms of benefits delivery
  • include projects which contribute but may be funded from/ most connected with different work streams
  • simplify the measures so that individuals working on, benefiting from and sponsoring projects can quickly see what's going on and feel a sense of achievement
  • this leads neatly into Benefits Profiles

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