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What is benefits management and project success?


Benefits management is the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of benefits. Benefits realisation is the practice of ensuring that benefits are derived from outputs and outcomes. 

Project success is the satisfaction of stakeholder needs and is measured by the  success criteria agreed at the start of a project.

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

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In order to facilitate benefits realisation during the extended project duration, benefits management is needed as an additional activity required to translate requirements that have been expressed in terms of benefits.

Benefits typically have a tangible value, ideally expressed in monetary terms to justify the investment. They are often realised sometime after transition into use, hence accountability for benefits realisation resting with the sponsor.

Benefits Management Process - New opportunities

Benefits Management Process
Source: APM Body of Knowledge 6th edition

Watch: What is benefits management?

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Benefits management lifecycle

A practitioner’s guide to benefits management written by the APM Benefits Management SIG features a diagram that provides a framework which organisations can adopt to optimise the realisation of business value from their investment in change.

Benefits management lifecycle

Benefits Management Lifecycle
Source: A practitioner’s guide to benefits management

Conditions for project successConditions for project success

All projects are designed to bring benefits to the investing organisation, but the success criteria for many projects excludes benefit realisation as this is handled by another part of the organisation. Benefits therefore are different to success criteria.

Success criteria is the satisfaction of stakeholder needs for the deployment of a project. This is a different performance measure to benefits which are focused on the strategic intent and delivering beneficial change. Success criteria are agreed with stakeholders as early as possible but can be changed at any time in the project life cycle, subject to approval through change control.

Achievement of project management success criteria is known at project handover and accountability for achieving the project success criteria rests with the project manager. Project professionals ensure that here is a clear linkage between benefits, project success criteria, project objectives and project requirements.

Read conditions for project success

24 Mar - 🕑 42 mins

Project Innovators: Bent Flyvbjerg on how to make your project a success

In this final episode of the Project Innovators season, Project journal editor Emma De Vita speaks to Bent Flyvbjerg, the first BT professor and inaugural chair of major programme management at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Bent is one of the big names from the world of project management. He works for the better management of megaprojects and this is the subject which we delve into here, from optimism bias when it comes to cost and benefits estimation to strategic misrepresentation by project champions (otherwise known as bending the truth to secure the go-ahead on a megaproject). The solution? In part, a technique called reference class forecasting.

Explore podcast library

8 Jun - 🕑 41 mins

The evolving definition of project ‘success’

In this episode, hosted by Project journal online editor Mike Hine, our topic is project success, and how the definition of success is evolving to fit the challenges of the 2020s and beyond. At a time when the country is looking to build back better post-pandemic, projects will play a major role in determining the UK’s economic future. They are truly vital to the UK’s success on many fronts. But with so much riding on these projects, we need to ensure they succeed.

Historically, projects have notoriously struggled to hit their targets. So perhaps it’s time to revisit the very notion of project success. What constitutes a successful project? What are some of the most fundamental factors that underpin success? And has the project profession moved beyond the age-old metrics of time, cost and quality?

Related reading

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Benefits realisation management and its influence on project success and on the execution of business strategies
This article looks at the success rates of projects using benefits realisation management (BRM) practices in organisations surveyed in Brazil, the UK and the USA... read more.
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Social return on investment (SROI): A powerful tool for the realisation of benefits
The social return on investment (SROI) process and framework is a robust structure for forecasting or evaluating services and projects where it isn’t immediately obvious how to quantify the financial (and perhaps other) return... read more.
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How can we hand over projects better?
This APM Research Fund study seeks to answer the question: How can we hand over projects better? How do we improve the transition of a project from the project team delivering in a project life cycle to the end users’ business as usual activities, to ensure the realisation of the benefits the project set out to achieve?
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The big interview: Nick Smallwood
Andrew Saunders meets the CEO of the UK’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority, who’s clear that the difference between success and failure for a project comes down to getting the basics right... read more.
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How stakeholders define the real success of projects
Success of projects is defined both by internal and external stakeholders and can change from project to another depending on the environment, the people and project or programme objectives... read more.
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Benefits management: Lost or found in translation
This article looks at the spread of knowledge about benefits management and its adoption by organisations; the global development of benefits management; and translation processes at the organisation level... read more.

APM Benefits and Value Interest Network

The Benefits and Value Interest Network (BV) is here to help members, the project management profession and the public to enjoy successful projects.

Join our community



APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

The APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition is a foundational resource providing the concepts, functions and activities that make up professional project management. It reflects the developing profession, recognising project-based working at all levels, and across all sectors for influencers, decision makers, project professionals and their teams. 

Buy from the bookshop
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