Sunday 19 October 2008

Performance Management and Realising Benefits

Party - let's party

Why do you want to performance manage projects, initiatives and existing services?

Presumably to ensure that they deliver the benefits (as defined by the phrase "a benefit is anything that a stakeholder would sees is of value to them"), both those originally promised in the business case which won investment for this project, and those subsequently identified.

Does this mean that I've named the blog wrongly?

Quite possibly. The issue for many, with the term performance management is that it harks back to the days of time and motion, of external consultants telling people they aren't working hard enough, and of the breakdown in communications and trust between workers and between workers and management. So we need a new form of Performance Management, one jointly agreed between customers, workers and the organisations, which measures in a transparent way those outcomes that all can see are benefits (of value to at least one of the stakeholders).

That's where Benefits Realisation comes in.

Benefits are the outcomes of value. A benefit for a customer (or in public good parlance, a service user) may not necessarily be a benefit either for staff or for the organisation, but many organisations have aligned their own direct benefits (financial viability) with indirect benefits which do good in the long term (improved quality of life for users, adherence to public policy, addressing local needs which in turn improves quality of life for a whole group of potential, even if not current, users). Staff clearly benefit from the joy of seeing users receive benefits - it is more motivational to see the results of your work in the faces of the people you help than any amount of pay, for all we need our basic domestic needs (security, food, freedom, growth as reflected in the roof over our heads, basic health and hygiene needs, a car and/or a holiday, and opportunities for personal development) met from the financial reward of the job.

The benefits framework

I'm waxing lyrical about this. I too hadn't fully understood its significance for performance management in combination with all the other factors that contribute to benefits realisation.
Essentially a benefits framework is the agreed delivery of outcomes recognised, agreed and confirmed by all of the stakeholders. A given project, initiative or service may only contribute to one or two of the outcomes for the whole community or organisation, but by using a single framework to cover a wide range of projects, each project can see (and celebrate) its individual contribution at the same time as seeing that contribution within the context of the whole.
Using a framework reduces the effort needed to define, measure and report benefits and their contribution to the whole, as measurement and evaluation methods can be reused in different projects, and measures such as prevalence can be reported by all projects without having to be individually measured.
It's also highly motivating. The individual measures and benefits of a single project may be understood by the staff, users and management of that project, but often aren't understood outside of that project. A framework can take the time to define benefits and outcomes in ways that everyone can understand and accept, so the individual project's contributions can be recognised by all stakeholders and the stakeholders of other projects.

Defining the Benefits Framework

can only be done in conjunction with the stakeholders. There is a format - I've included the overview on and I'm presenting a proposed agenda the workshops as I get around to writing it in web format.

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