Sunday 7 September 2008

More uses for Benefits Dependency Networks

I've just run three more Benefits Dependency Network workshops and attended a workshop event on how to run them.
It struck me how many different ways this fabulous tool is used:

For a single project or initiative, it's possible to use a BDN as
* a surrogate for a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
* a way of anticipating and elucidating all of the benefits (and dis-benefits) that can occur from a particular action
* listing all of the components or activities of a project and how they link to the final outcomes
* explicitly and in a group agreeing the drivers or goals of the project, benefits, and measurables

For a workstream (typically a priority of the organisation or group of projects of a similar nature) the BDN:
* confirms with the group what the whole workstream is aiming for, and what projects contribute to these aims
* identifies existing services which no longer contribute to the benefits or outcomes desired
* where more investment is needed or even whole new initiatives
* what is dependent on what - the order in time or priority of the projects

For an organisation
* highlight and agree the key aims of the organisation
* see how the strategic aims (typically the commitments made in public) contribute to the key aims, and what other aims or outcomes are needed (eg if the key aim is to reduce inequalities and a strategic aim or publically announced deliverable is to improve access to mental health services, what else do you have to keep doing to reduce inequalities?)
* identify areas for investment

1 comment:

HugoM said...

[comment added from David Waller - NHS Information Centre]

Benefits apportionment is always a tricky topic and one that usually gets filed away as being too hard. Sometimes, like with the hard cash benefits, it can be a straightforward sum where the individual project savings add up
to the programme total. This tends to be a rare occurrence though.

At the other intangible end of the scale my actions can support an overall benefit but quantification is next to hopeless. For example, keeping my customers satisfied adds something to an overall customer experience. The day to day situation between me and all my colleagues is too fluid for me to measure my relative contribution accurately.

In the middle is the area of 'negotiated contribution'. This applies particularly to infrastructure projects. If I don't deliver the tools, you can't do your job. This doesn't mean that all your benefits are mine. If it did then the most important person in the business would be the one that opened the front door every morning and we would reward them accordingly.

A proper negotiation has to take place between the projects / work packages and a fair distribution made of resources and rewards to motivate everyone to deliver. Sadly, this doesn't often happen in practice unless there's
already some sort of contract or SLA between the relevant parties.

contributed by David Waller