The Millennium Experience
A successful project is one that delivers on-spec (‘quality’), time and cost. Right? Well consider these two projects The Millennium Dome was delivered on time for the 31 December 1999 and safely within a budget (fixed in 1998) of £289 million Benefits of Using.
The Project was also delivered to quality, albeit against a Specification that had been adjusted several times during the project to simplify the scope of work required (and ensure that time and cost deadlines could still be met). However, visitor number targets were greatly overestimated, the business a total flop and the whole endeavour deemed a failure by many.
The Millennium Wheel (or “London Eye”) opened one month late on a dreary February morning in 2000 (following problems raising the wheel and then safety & quality issues with one of the 32 pods). It was also over budget, with building costs of £70m (against the £25m British Airways had originally planned to spend).
However, an average of about 10,000 people a day now ride the wheel, making the London Eye the UK’s biggest tourist attraction (and generating £15 million of trading profit a year) – a healthy return on investment for the shareholders.
A New Mindset for Change Projects
Traditional methodologies for change / project management (of which PRINCE is an example) tend to focus primarily on time, cost and quality. Benefits are all too often only implicitly recognised and the accountability for realising them is assumed to lie outside the project.
However, the pace of change within our society, industry and business grows ever faster. Somewhat paradoxically, there is an ever-greater need to ensure that changes ‘stick’ (delivering sustainable benefit and competitive advantage to the organisations making them).
Most businesses have already achieved greater efficiency and effectiveness within single functions or processes; The challenge of the 21st Century is increasingly how to realise end-to-end change across a boundary-less business.
Rarely (these days) will a single customer sponsor a single project, delivering a single system into a single department.
The leadership challenge is thus how to engage multiple sponsors and change agents across the whole business to deliver excellence in change and the ruthless pursuit of business benefits and true return on investment (ROI).
The Case for a focus on Benefits Management
Recent research from the Cranfield University School of Management finds that 78% of IT-enabled change projects (in large UK companies) fail to deliver business benefits. 47% believed assessment of business benefits in business cases was poor or worse and 79% said that all the available benefits were not captured during that assessment. 45% believed benefits were overstated in their organisation to get investment approval.
Arguably, this will only change when project managers and their people become accountable for – and obsessed by – delivering business benefits and value through Change, rather than simply projects to time and cost.