Benefit Realisation Management: A Practical Guide to Achieving Benefits Through Change

Gerald Bradley's book “Benefit Realisation Management” addresses one of the most neglected areas of business transformation. An area that many fail to understand the importance of, so often they brush it aside, and suffer the consequences later down the line.
The book uncovers the drivers, concepts and principles that successful benefit realisation hinges upon. It also serves as an excellent reference guide by describing a proven, comprehensive and practical approach to benefit realisation. It is brimming with much of what a Programme Manager or Business Transformation Manager needs to know about the theory and principles of Benefit Realisation Management (BRM) and the methods and processes behind it.
Gerald Bradley explains that BRM is not simply about identifying and tracking a few benefits, but that it is a flexible and active process for:

  • Setting strategy and direction
  • Creating a shared vision or end goal
  • Determining and managing change
  • Engaging and motivating stakeholders
  • Managing risks
  • Achieving success

In his book, Gerald Bradley comes across as passionate about the subject and wrote; “the current focus within both public and private sectors on implementing enablers, rather than on realising benefits and achieving the vision or end goal“. This ties in closely with my own experience of the all-too-common urge to “implement the latest and greatest technology”, while treating critical success factors such as benefit realisation management, stakeholder relationship management and organisational change management as “tick-in-the-box” exercises – of secondary importance.
In the book's Preface, the author suggests a useful exercise to ascertain whether one should read his book, and you can find that piece half-way down the 4th page.
Should you be concerned enough to want to learn more about benefit realisation management or simply discover Bradley's perspective on the subject, you will encounter 31 chapters, spanning 293 pages, which are partitioned into the following four parts:

  1. Fundamentals and Foundations oF BenefIt Realisation
  2. The Application of Benefit Realisation Management to Programmes and Projects
  3. The Application of Benefit Realisation Management to Portfolio Management
  4. Embedding Benefit Realisation Management Within an Organisation

At the start of chapter 4, where an overview of Benefit Realisation Management (BRM) is provided, the author defines BRM as “the process of organising and managing, so that potential benefits, arising from investment in change, are actually achieved”. He goes on to say that in 1986, Sigma originally named the process “Benefit Management”, but in 2003 switched to what was felt to be the more meaningful title of “Benefit Realisation Management”.
Readers familiar with Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) originally established by the UK Government's Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and now managed by Axelos, might already be aware that much of the BRM content in MSP was originally based on Bradley's work.
After explaining benefit realisation management, the book goes on to review why companies should want to measure benefits and how to identify, classify and measure benefits, with advice on how to create benefit profits. It addresses Benefit Maps and presents a number of diagrams showing how benefits can relate to one another in a series of cause and effect relationships. The author uses the diagram shown below to demonstrate part of a Benefits Map for increasing the sales contribution for a consultancy business (the end benefits are shown in the brighter green). The book also sets out to help the reader understand how to create their own benefits maps.
Later the fundamentals of benefit tracking and reporting are addressed, with guidance on how to perform these exercises and why, using a case study to help readers better understand the concepts being explained.
The author also takes time to separately describe risk management, stakeholder relationship management and governance, in the context of BRM. This helps the reader understand the close relationships that these disciplines must share, in order for them to be truly successful.
This fact that this book is packed with so much helpful information, makes it difficult to summarise briefly, without doing it an injustice. But I will now close by referring to its concluding chapter 31, which lists the following 20 critical actions that summarise the key messages delivered throughout the book:

  1. Apply BRM to increase programme and project success
  2. Start with the ‘end in view’
  3. Engage stakeholders
  4. Align and balance the change portfolio
  5. Identify a comprehensive set of benefits
  6. Map the route to success
  7. Measure to encourage the desired behaviour
  8. Use maps to determine required changes
  9. Blueprint the future state
  10. Structure the programme to manage business change
  11. Use BRM to identify and manage risks
  12. Focus governance on benefit realisation
  13. Optimise the solution
  14. Avoid giving financial values to non-cashable benefits
  15. Track benefits in order to drive action
  16. Report benefits to publicise success
  17. Reward benefit realisation
  18. Create a supportive environment
  19. Sow seeds to begin to change the culture
  20. Start where you can

I strongly recommend that anyone who is charged with the task of undertaking benefit realisation management picks up a copy of this book. Even if you feel you are well-versed in benefit management, it will serve as a good friend, particularly during some of the more solitude moments of managing key components of a business transformation.