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Raising the Bar on Benefits Management

Let’s be realistic – benefits don’t just happen; benefits don’t just get realized by themselves.  In fact, benefits from programs and projects are often not realized unless they and the required business changes are proactively managed during and typically post-initiative closure.

We have all seen it, the dilemma when a program or project is closed out: resources, decision makers and funding are all disbanded, but the benefits are not yet realized.  Benefits take time, money and resourcing to be realized.  But whose role is it?  The project manager is onto the next project, other resources are consumed elsewhere and senior management’s attention is focused on the next challenge.

So yes, we need to get better at understanding and managing benefits, regardless of size or type of organisation.  It isn’t about finger pointing but rather recognizing that benefits management is an integral element of strategy, portfolio, program and project management.  To be successful it needs to be incorporated throughout the business change life cycle.

5 tips to embarking on benefits management

  1. Be pro-active. It is not enough to just document expected benefits in a business case and then get signoff. Ongoing questions need to be asked and reviewed: are we going to realise the benefits originally expected?  Are there potentially new emergent benefits?  Are there threats to achieving benefits?  Have any benefits been diluted?
  2. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Easily said, but harder in reality.  Yes, reports and benefit forecasts need to be open and honest.  Yes, realism needs to prevail – be aware of being over confident and over-optimistic in benefit forecasting.  Ensure at all times there is the link back to strategy: the why.
  3. Forward-looking focus. For many organisations, benefits management is still relatively new, and let’s face it, maturity levels for benefits management tend to be low.  We need to focus on learning and continuous improvement of benefit management practices as opposed to a culture of blame.
  4. Roles, responsibilities and ownership. Working backwards, who is the benefit owner?  Who is really going to ‘benefit’ from the benefit?  Who is responsible at a program/project level for ensuring that benefits are understood, planned and reported?  Who is accountable for the initiative meeting its objectives and being setup to optimize benefit realization? Benefits management requires clear and agreed accountabilities and responsibilities.
  5. Think value. The focus should be on benefit optimization, not necessarily maximization.  Optimization of benefits considers constraints and potential other uses of funding.  Realizing 80% of potential benefits for an initiative may, for example, be greater value for money as opposed to spending additional budget to achieve the last 20%.  Understanding value is a crucial element of successful benefits management.

“Benefits management should be coordinated with, and integrated into, the organization’s strategic planning, project and program management and performance management systems…”

Managing Benefits, Steve Jenner (APMG International)


Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice, PM-Partners group, Contact –

About the APM Benefits Summit

Managing benefits is one of the key topics that will be discussed in this year’s APM Benefits Summit 2017, where  APMG will be exhibiting alongside some of the partnering ATOs. The other themes of the summit are achieving transformational change, benefits-led portfolio management, and working with partners.

The Benefits Summit 2017 provides an excellent opportunity to learn, to meet and network with subject matter experts and practitioners across the industry. Follow the event on social media using #apmbmsummit for live updates on 22nd June 2017 or follow @APMG_Inter on Twitter.

Posted in Accreditation, Events, Qualifications.

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The Importance of a Good Business Case

The UK has over 900 public sector organisations, with each typically planning and procuring around 10 key investments every year. As vast amounts of money are being invested around the country on new projects, a number of questions arise: How can we ensure value for money? How can we ensure we have selected the correct course of action? How can we ensure these investments are justified?

The answer lies in the business case. Business cases should provide scrutiny, ensuring that what is proposed is:

  • The right sort of investment
  • Affordable, desirable and viable
  • Offering value for money for shareholders and/or customers

The problem is, the importance of business cases is often undervalued and not given sufficient resources or funding. This has led to underestimated costs, inflated budgets and missed deadlines. In the worst of cases, it leads to project failure, as requirements are not met, and business value is not delivered.

We can see examples of poor business case planning in many major public sector projects: the Channel Tunnel’s costs were underestimated by 80%, London’s Jubilee line extension was underestimated by £1.4 billion and the project duration understated by 2 years, and the Scottish Parliament Building was delivered 10 times over budget and 3 years late.

A research paper in 2007 entitled ‘Building Better Business Cases for IT Investments’ looked at how over 100 European organisations developed their business cases and how these approaches were related to overall success in investments. Although producing business cases was a normal and expected process, the findings suggested that they were often of poor quality.

65% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their inability to identify all benefits and 69% stated inadequacies in the ‘true’ value of the benefits which were included. Furthermore, benefits were often exaggerated or un-achievable in the first place, and there was a lack of understanding of the business change needed to achieve the benefits. Business cases which were focused on financial or efficiency savings tended to be less successful, which was a problem because financial benefits were often the only thing senior management was interested in.

So what makes a successful business case? The authors recommend that business cases should include a ‘wide range’ of benefit types and recognize ‘all possible’ benefits. This includes ‘soft’ or ‘subjective’ benefits, which are more appealing to stakeholders and which often return greater commitment from those delivering the projects.

APM Benefits Summit 2017

Developing better business cases is one of the four related themes of this year’s APM Benefits Summit 2017, where The Knowledge Academy will be exhibiting alongside APMG.

The other themes of the summit are achieving transformational change, benefits-led portfolio management, and working with partners.

The Benefits Summit 2017 provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about business cases and to meet and network with subject matter experts and practitioners across the industry.

Follow the event on social media using #apmbmsummit for live updates on 22nd June 2017 or follow @APMG_Inter on Twitter.


Author: Stuart Armstrong,

Account Manager: Chloe De Glanville,

Posted in Accreditation, Events, Exams, Qualifications.

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Raise the bar: Prove your technical competence with an accredited certification

9th June is celebrated as the World Accreditation Day (#WAD2017) internationally and so we at APMG are taking this opportunity to drive the importance of what we do best, accreditation!

Accreditation is a formal recognition by an authoritative body of the competence to work to specified standards. All accreditation standards include the principles of quality management systems, such as those found in well-recognized the ISO 9001 QMS standard. ‘Source: Planning and Building Control Today.

So why is it so important?

It is important primarily because it confirms that an institution exceeds the minimum set standards of quality. It gives candidates or students the confidence that the chosen institute for their education needs is acceptable for enrollment and hence determines acceptability of transferring credits.

An institution that is accredited demonstrates that;

  • It has participated in a structured process to assess, evaluate and improve quality
  • It is committed to maintaining higher standards of delivery than the minimum requirement consistently
  • It focuses on learning outcomes and delivers certifications that have practical applicability in the working world
  • It’s dedicated to involving faculty and staff alongside students in the self-assessing and continuous improvement process.

The employers love it! Why?

Because employers seek efficiency in the process of hiring and training new employees. Multinational corporations often resort to accreditation as a crucial factor in the hiring process. Employers often prefer to choose accredited candidates and find that they get to choose from a bunch of higher-quality applicants in the first place, hence saving them time and money in the over-all recruitment process. The perception is that an accredited certification helps formalize some theory to back up practical experience.

There is an international benefit too!

A professional qualification that is accredited to the highest standards from a well-established accrediting body is recognized by international businesses. Foreign recruiters feel more secure in considering candidates with credentials that they recognize and can measure across international boundaries.

In times when companies are creating jobs that change the way we think and the way the world operates; being a cut above the mediocre will go a long way in building the career you always wanted. So, get an accredited certification and raise the bar!

For more information on the World Accreditation Day, check out the UKAS website.

Posted in Accreditation, Qualifications.

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The Symbiotic Relationship Between COBIT 5 and NIST CSF

Take three things:

1. Legislative requirements.
2. The Cyberworld.
3. Running a Business.

They are a disaster awaiting to happen unless we have a clear understanding of what is needed to achieve:

• Legal compliance.
• Cyber threat management.
• Crisis and business continuity responses.

They have been around for a long time in some shape or form. Why mention them again, now?

Because legislation is becoming more stringent, compensating for the fast-moving developments in IT that favour the criminal at the expense of people and business.


Posted in COBIT 5, Cyber Security.

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ISO/IEC 20000 – Reporting

ISO/IEC 20000

There is one clause in ISO20000-1 for service reporting but there are also other places where there are requirements to report. This blog tries to summarise the requirements.

The service reporting process

The service reporting process, clause 6.2, in ISO20000-1 covers some general requirements about reports and then specifies 5 mandatory reports.

The 1st requirement is to list the service reports produced with their identity, purpose, audience, frequency and details of the data source(s). This can be done in a simple spreadsheet or in a more complex document if that is more suitable to your environment. It is a useful exercise to consider what reports you do produce and if they are really required. Many organisations have reports that have been produced for many years but may no longer be relevant.

Posted in ISO Schemes.

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Agile Organisational Change Management: Fashion or Future?

I’ve been working with a couple of organisations over the last months providing assistance with some organisational change stuff. The number of questions from many people across the organisations is mainly about implementing Agile Organisational Change.


Posted in Agile, Change Management, Qualifications.

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Why I like PRINCE2 Agile®

I have been working with PRINCE2® before it became PRINCE2 and for the last 10 years I have been a PRINCE2 trainer and consultant so I am already sold on PRINCE2. I have also been a software developer and used agile development methods and have never seen the two as being in conflict. The PRINCE2 Agile guide has been created to provide guidance for blending the PRINCE2 project management approach with agile delivery methods. The PRINCE2 Agile approach brings together the strength of PRINCE2 and the flexibility of agile delivery methods that can be used across all industry sectors.

PRINCE2 Agile is not a replacement for PRINCE2. All elements of PRINCE2 are valid within PRINCE2 Agile. It is an extension to PRINCE2. The guide gives advice and guidance on agile behaviours, concepts, frameworks and techniques that can be used within a project context.


Posted in Qualifications.

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How COBIT 5 can help reduce the likelihood and impact of the Top 5 Cyber threats

2017 is here with cyberbreaches increasing, with their impacts rippling ever further into business and personal life.

Are these threats too big to manage? Is cyberthreat management the Elephant in the Room?

Cyber-resilience needs to be on the board agenda but still too many boardrooms prefer to manage the risk with the Ostrich Control – hoping it will go away – exacerbated by the fact that security budgets continue to grow whilst answers to how much and what to target remain aloof.

The trick is to assess causes, how and where they manifest themselves, then define impacts and outcomes before choosing the appropriate controls. Simple in theory, a nightmare in practice because so much now is outside the direct control of our organisations. Originally, we talked about Risks because of our ability to identify, assess and control them as they were mainly of internal origin. Those remain, and still need to managed, but we also have a range of external issues over which we have no control in terms of origin, when, where, how, who. The game has changed from Risk (internal) to Threat (external) Management.


Posted in COBIT 5.

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Zwinne metodyki oraz frameworki zarządzania projektami

Tradycyjne, kaskadowe zarządzanie projektem sprawdza (a raczej sprawdzało) się w warunkach dużej przewidywalności, stabilności oraz dużej świadomości Klienta, co do własnych oczekiwań.

Tradycyjny model prowadzenia projektów ma wiele zalet, do których możemy zaliczyć:
• kładzie nacisk na precyzyjne ustalenie celów,
• kontrolę i przewidywanie działania (kroków projektowych)
• jasną, dostępną i aktualną dokumentację


Posted in Agile.

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What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is a cyber security certification scheme that is prominent in the United Kingdom. It was developed by the UK Government as part of its National Cyber Security Strategy to make the country a safer place to do business online.

The scheme helps organisations take the initial steps towards protecting themselves from online cyber criminals. It measures an organisation against five key security controls – which when met,  give an organisation confidence that it’s protected against the most common cyber threats.

Therefore, a Cyber Essentials certified organisation can be assured that it’s successfully taken the initial steps towards establishing a good level of cyber security hygiene – while communicating this assurance to its customers and stakeholders with a Government-endorsed standard.

As of October 2014 – Cyber Essentials is mandatory for suppliers of Government contracts that involve handling personal information and delivering certain ICT products and services.


Posted in Cyber Security.

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