Benefits Identification And Mapping

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This section describes the process for:

  • Identifying benefits, and
  • Mapping benefits – which records how they relate to each other, to the strategic and programme objectives, the business changes and to the project outputs.

Often a Benefits Map is created in a visual form to capture and communicate the above. The map can be used throughout the life of the programme to analyse any impacts on benefits caused by changes in programme direction or changes to the strategy as a whole.

Done well experience shows benefits identification and mapping pays significant dividends later in the programme. The first time you try it, it can seem complex and challenging. Tips based on lessons learned include:

  • Involve someone with experience in your first efforts, perhaps from another authority
  • Start with a relatively simple and concrete programme or even a project that is already fairly well defined (a property programme will be easier than a total transformation of children services)
  • Produce a first draft Benefits Map with a small group of stakeholders (two or three) rather than exposing a large group of critical, senior stakeholders to a process if you do not feel sure.
  • Involve Programme Boards in ratifying and prioritising draft Benefit Maps to create ownership and engagement

Different stakeholders may have their own unique perception of the benefits. In sharing these perceptions, the nature of the benefits, how they support the organisation’s objectives and who needs to take ownership for delivering them becomes clear.

There are many ways to map benefits. It is useful to build benefits maps in stages (eg starting with a session to agree the programme objectives), because the relationships between the various components can be complex. It can also be better to work on this outside of any sessions with stakeholders.

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Communicating Benefits
Definition of Benefits And Disbenefits
Benefits Identification And Mapping
Profiling Benefits
Realising Benefits
Sign-off Benefits
Tracking And Embedding Benefits
Managing And Realising Benefits Checklist
Benefits Map and Benefit Profiles Checklist

The steps outlined below provide an example of how benefits identification and mapping can be done.

Step 1 - Mapping programme objectives to strategic objectives

A good starting point is to agree the programme’s objectives if these are not already clear from the Programme Mandate. The programme objectives are statements that explain what the programme sets out to deliver at the highest level in the context of strategic objectives.

Programme objectives can be directly linked to relevant strategic objectives as this demonstrates alignment of the programme to the organisation’s strategy. In the example below, relevant strategic objectives are represented on the right of the Benefits Map in the stars and the programme objectives are represented by octagons in the example below.

Give a group of key stakeholders four post-it notes and ask them to brainstorm what they think this programme is aiming to achieve. Group what they write down into themed clusters and agree ideally two or three and certainly no more than four programme objectives which will go at the right hand side of your map and to the left of the strategic objectives. It can be helpful to start each objective with “To” eg “To reduce costs, To improve customer services”.

Be sure that the programme objectives are within the scope and power of the programme. For example, a Library Transformation programme may believe it will improve community cohesion but is this a realistic, measurable and appropriate programme objective to claim?

Example Library Transformation Programme - Step 1

Step 2 - Identifying and mapping benefits to programme objectives

In this step the process involves identifying benefits and dis-benefits. If a Programme Brief has been created, some benefits and dis-benefits will have already been identified. In addition more potential benefits may have come to light since the creation of the Programme Brief.

Benefits answer the question 'Why are we doing this programme?' To describe the benefit use a change word at the start of a benefit title, such as reduced, increased, etc.

A good way to identify benefits is in a workshop with representatives from the relevant service area or department(s) and programme staff, allowing for a creative process.

To avoid confusion with business changes always use a change word (eg Reduced, Increased) at the start of a benefit.

The identified benefits should then be mapped to the programme objectives. In the example below the benefits are shown in rounded boxes to the left of the programme objectives and linked with dotted lines.

In the example below dis-benefits are shown in square boxes, also to the left of programme objectives. It is also useful to indicate if there are any relationships between benefits and/or dis-benefits by placing them adjacent to each other on the benefits map.

One benefit can lead to another. If the relationships between benefits become too complex, consider grouping related benefits together; the complexity can be captured in the Benefit Profiles later on.

If the diagram starts to look like spaghetti – i.e. there are too many links between the elements of the diagram, consider removing links which seem less important or even leaving the links out altogether depending on the audience.

It’s a good idea to use A3 paper to maximise the space needed to capture all the benefits in one single map.

Example Library Transformation Programme - Step 2

Step 3 - Identifying Business Changes

The next step in the process is the identification of business changes that are needed in order to achieve the benefits. Business changes are the changes to the current ways of working that need to be implemented in the business areas affected by the programme. They can include, process and behavioural changes and changes to operational procedures. For example, a new clear desk policy to support desk sharing will only deliver benefit, if staff change their habits.

Here the main business changes are noted on the map. A more detailed list of all business changes and how they will be implemented should be developed following the development of the Benefit Profiles.

Identifying the business changes is perhaps the most important part of this process since it is often missed or given insufficient attention. A business case may be put forward for an IT system but without considering the resource required to implement and change staff behaviour to use it.

Business changes are numerous and it would be difficult to try to fit them all on the map. It is, however very valuable to use the map to consider all the major business changes required to, deliver the benefits.

Note, the Benefits Map does not indicate when things happen in time, i.e. sequence. It is simply a representation of how things are connected to each other.

The activities needed to deliver the business changes should be included in Programme Plan (or separate Benefits Realisation Plan) or appropriate individual project plans.

Example Library Transformation Programme - Step 3

Step 4 - Mapping project outputs to benefits

The next step is to show the project outputs (or enablers) that will create the capability to realise the benefits through the identified business changes.

In the process of confirming, amending or adding benefits, the project outputs are reviewed to ensure all the things that need to be created to enable the benefits are listed.

Outputs/enablers have been represented in the card-shaped boxes to the left of the benefits in the example.

Example Library Transformation Programme - Step 4

Once the map has ben populated with project outputs, business changes, benefits and programme objectives, it can be used as a atool to crosscheck two key things:

  • Do the programme benefits strongly align with the strategic objectives of the organisation through the programme objectives?
  • Will the proposed projects deliver the benefits sought?

Note, the Benefits Map does not indiciate when things happen in time, i.e. sequence. It is simply a representation of how things are connected to each other.

Step 5 - Mapping the links between programme objectives, benefits, business changes and project outputs

Once all elements of the map have been captured, links are identified between the enablers, business changes, benefits/disbenefits and programme objectives. The number of links can give an indication of the relative importance of each element on the map and assist with benefit prioritisation.

Step 6 - Prioritising benefits and business changes

It will not be appropriate or practical to track/measure all benefits. Prioritise the benefits according to those which are critical to realising the programme objectives, the ones with the important financial value and also those which it is practical to measure (ie there is an existing baseline). In practice this means that only a subset of the benefits will be taken forward to the profiling benefits stage.

You may want to consider only involving a two or three key stakeholders in creating the first draft Benefits Map and then request Programme Boards to prioritise the benefits – this creates understanding and ownership but does not require the board to be involved in the complexity of producing the map.


See the Benefits Map And Benefit Profiles template

See also

User Guide to this wiki.
Outperform's wiki administration guide (login required).
Click here to download the PSPMA Embedding Guide
PS PMA Video Case Study
PS PMA Glossary of Terms
A map of PS PMA documents to MSP documents.
One page PS PMA wall chart in A3 size, PDF format
Visit the Local Government Project and Programme Community of Practice (PPM CoP) and join up.
The Site Map shows all pages within the PS PMA wiki.
The Workshop Facilitation Handbook
About London Councils
If you have suggestions for improvement or examples we can use, please email: Lorna Gill or Falguni Pisavadia

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