Benefits Mapping is one of the main tools of Benefits Management. I wrote about Benefits Management previously, looking at the skills required. I have also written about the different types of benefits.
This blog describes Benefits Mapping, suggests where it should be carried out in the project lifecycle, and why it is important.
Business Cases v Benefits Management
To put benefits mapping into perspective, it is important to understand benefits management. Business cases are written to get projects approved, and should contain the objectives and benefits of the project.
A business case for a project will only outline the potential benefits of the project. Benefits management takes over when the project is approved to ensure that those potential benefits are realised.
When writing a business cases for a project, there should be some consideration for ensuring that the benefits are realised through proper benefits management. Benefits Mapping is a tool to help measure and relate different project deliverables to the overall business benefits.
A benefits map (also called a success map) is a method of visually depicting the links between the projects deliverables, and the overall business objectives. The map is a guide showing where the value and benefits of the project really lie.
Using different terminology, a benefits map can describe:
- The project change, leading to outcomes, and the meeting of business objectives
- Projects delivering facilities or technologies, leading to enabling changes, then business changes, and finally business benefits and the attainment of overall objectives
- Project initiatives leading to technical capabilities, then business capabilities, business outcomes, and finally meeting overall objectives.
- Project activities delivering benefits (and dis-benefits), leading to objectives
The following diagram shows an example of a benefit map.
These colour coded boxes, and linked together to form a map.
The relative importance of the project deliverables can be calculated by assigning a ‘value’ (typically 1000) to the ‘objective’, and proportioning this value backwards through the ‘benefits’ to the ‘enablers’ provided by the project.
In this manner the most important project deliverables (value wise) can be identified.
This example benefits map is taken from a free template from the home of benefit management website. More information can also be obtained from the Association for Project Management (APM) Specific Interest group (SIG) for Benefits Management.
Why is Benefits Mapping Important
Benefits Mapping is a way of connecting projects, programmes, and portfolios to the organisations strategic aims. It helps organisations attain the required Return on Investment (ROI) from their projects.
Benefit maps clearly show the chain between project deliverables, new capabilities delivered by the project, potential process changes, and business outcomes.
A benefits map:
- Looks at all enablers leading to an objective
- Shows the dis-benefits as well as the benefits
- Indicates the relative value of the project enablers
- Helps prioritise the project enablers
Benefit Maps are important because they:
- Share knowledge around the senior management team
- Are visual and easy to understand
- Make it quicker and easier to gain approval for project work
- Can be shared organisation wide with all internal stakeholders
As a project management tool, benefit maps allow project and programme managers to show how and where their projects deliver business benefits.
When Should You Do Benefits Mapping
Ideally this should take place before the project starts, in the project conception and initiation phases. But benefit maps also have a use when a complex project is having difficulties in successfully deploying changes to a resistant organisation.
How Do You Do Benefits Mapping
Large complex projects and programmes will benefit from the benefit mapping process. Therefore, typically they will involve a workshop with:
- A trained and experienced (and neutral) facilitator
- A lot of white space, flip chart paper, and sticky notes
- The project team and other relevant stakeholders
- Sufficient time to fully explore the project outputs, enablers, capabilities, and business benefits
- Software tools to capture, edit, and disseminate the outputs
The APM Benefits Management SIG has a YouTube video of a recent Benefits Management Principles Webinar.
Benefit mapping is a visual method of linking project deliverables to business objectives.