Validating Benefits

Published: Sunday, 19 May 2019 13:16

Endgame – Benefits Validation

Sound benefits – get what you expect, have a good chance of success

Categories – Balanced Scorecard, etc

Appropriateness, the right benefits for the goals and stakeholders

Owners and Recipients

Measurement and proof

It’s not only what you choose to do, it’s also how you choose to describe it

A straightforward blueprint means people can see the end result and know their part in it

Chessboard

In the same way as we can have various reasons for the same outcome and find they affect how it is brought about, we can also affect the process through the way we describe the end state. Only a very confident (or deluded) chess player would describe the endgame in terms of where the pieces will be. Yet we are often very granular in describing our programme objectives. This sort of mass objective twists individual priorities and breaks down any common purpose. In the chess analogy it’s like having a different person responsible for each piece. Each heads for its assigned position and sits there without contributing anything to the whole or supporting its team mates in winning the game.  

So have you picked good benefits? Are they the right things for the right people? How will you measure them and know you’ve achieved what you wanted? There are a number of ways to validate your benefits, to see how ‘good’ they are. 

The first thing to do is sort out the different types of benefit. They can be financial. If you can describe your benefits in terms of money then you have an instant way to see which is biggest. Next come the ones with firm non-financial measures. They are good for showing that a change has happened but not so good when you need to choose one against another. Knowing how productivity has increased in Departments A and B doesn’t tell you which one was better for the whole company. Finally, there are the intangibles like customer satisfaction. Again, there are ways of measuring them but the link between what you do and what you get is going to be long and uncertain. Was the big advertising campaign successful or was the product such a bargain that it would have sold anyway? 

See where the benefits lie. Having no financial or firm benefit suggests you may have a leap of faith rather than a sound business case. 

Your costs will also fall into the same categories. Here are some typical IT cost types. Not all costs are concrete ones:

Financial         Hardware

                        Software purchase

Firm    Software development

                        Provision of education & training

                        System running costs

                        Implementation costs

Intangible        Disruption

                        Reduced morale

                        Emotional response to change

The timescale and stakeholders’ interest will differ with the different types. The financial ones will have people breathing down your neck wanting instant results. The intangible ones risk being forgotten about as time passes and life moves on. 

Validation matrices are a way of giving your benefits a sanity check.