As the knowledge economy develops, the challenge of effectively managing technological change in organisations and indeed across entire industries is becoming acute. This is not primarily a technology issue, nor an issue of interest only to IT managers, it is an issue for all business managers. The traditional industrial-age approach to managing automation-focused projects has become a relic, leading to silver bullet thinking about the new generations of IT and how they can be applied to support advanced information management and enable business transformation. The end result is unacceptably high failure rates in applying new technologies. We need a new approach.
Our Benefits Realisation approach is such an approach. It provides a new basis for using IT to deliver business results more consistently and predictably. It proposes two inter-related shifts: in mindsets about IT and in management methods. Silver bullet thinking is replaced with a new benefits mindset that focuses on integrating technology into the business system. Its central tenet is that IT alone, no matter how technically powerful, cannot deliver business results.
An approach developed in the field
Our Benefits Realisation approach is not just another academic theory. It is a practical approach, much of which was developed, tested in the field and successfully used since 1995 worldwide in organisations that include government (at all levels), telecommunications companies, energy utilities, banks, insurance companies and manufacturers. It has been used to meet a variety of business transformation challenges, such as:
- Ensuring that benefits are understood and realised from large, complex and expensive software investments, including enterprise application packages such as SAP, Internet related applications and Knowledge Management initiative
- Understanding, managing and realising benefits from major business process re-engineering programs
- Providing a focus on results to guide major organisational change programs.
Cornerstones of the Benefits Realisation approach
There are three fundamentals that define the core of the Benefits Realisation approach. To implement it successfully, organisations must also meet three necessary conditions. These are outlined below.
- Shift from stand-alone IT project management to business program management
- Shift from free-for-all competition among projects to disciplined portfolio management
- Shift from traditional project management cycles to full cycle governance.
Three necessary conditions:
- Activist accountability in order to identify business sponsors with active, continuous ownership of investment programs
- Relevant measurement systems to measure the things that count in the Benefits Realisation process
- Proactive management of change to give people ownership stakes in programs.
Fujitsu's Benefits Realisation approach incorporates several innovative components. These include:
- The Results Chain Technique - generates a clear graphic display of the contribution of initiatives to expected business outcomes (or benefits)
- The four "Ares" - four underlying questions that provide the framework for assessing business value (including risk) for an investment: Are 1: Are we doing the right things? Are 2: Are we doing them the right way? Are 3: Are we getting them done well? Are 4: Are we getting the benefits?
- The Value Management Office (VMO) - supports an organisation's management by actively managing the realisation of value from investment programs.
Benefits Realisation delivers a number of advantages:
- The entire organisation - from top executives to project teams - gains a better, shared understanding of the potential benefits of an investment and how to "get there"
- Provides more effective sponsorship of IT and business change initiatives, based on better understanding of the changes required to generate benefits
- Business benefits are delivered sooner!
- Increased success rates of major investments.
Fujitsu's leadership in Benefits Realisation - we wrote the book!
Fujitsu has published a book on the subject of Benefits Realisation titled The Information Paradox - Realising the Business Benefits of Information Technology. The book is intended to show the intellectual leadership Fujitsu has in this field, to share the experiences and foster the discussion on the subject.
Five critical questions
- Are your business cases effective in making decisions at the executive level and ensuring you actually achieve the anticipated business value?
- Do you initiate programs without a full understanding of their scope and complexity?
- Do your business improvement programs include a change management strategy?
- Do your programs focus on cost, technology or business value?
- Can you stop programs and projects that are underperforming or no longer support your business strategy?
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