One of the principles of Managing Benefits is “Start with the end in mind.” It makes sense: begin with the benefits you want to achieve and then decide on the change initiatives that will make them happen.  When Steve Jenner was in Toronto recently I asked him what was the best way to achieve this. His answer was clear – start doing Post Implementation Reviews “by five o’clock tomorrow – or you’re not serious.” The purpose is make an immediate change to your project and program management. Or, as Steve suggested you put it to your project managers; “I’m not going to look to blame you but we are going to be reviewing every project and capture it and feed it up to the Chief Exec.’ Does that alter your behaviour? Too bloody right it does, right. And you’re not waiting six months or five years for behaviour to change. It starts changing today.”

Post Implementation Reviews are the place to start

But this is not happening enough. The UK National Audit Office (NAO) found that 80% of Government departments are not using Gateway 5, which is Benefits Evaluation. So why? The tools are available – Gateway has been around the UK public sector for many years. PRINCE2 and MSP  plan for Benefits Realization. All these are available and encouraged in the UK public sector. I’m sure Canadian government is the same. The answer is that it’s more about people and less to do with process. I often say to my classes that project management is contrary to our flawed human nature. If you’re running a project (or program) you have to write down what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it and what it’s going to cost. This means accountability, transparency and discipline. We humans don’t like it.

Do the right thing

It’s the right thing to do and it works. And this is where standards such as Managing Benefits, MoP, MSP and PRINCE2 are so useful. You have to believe they work – and then follow them rigidly, but sensibly. The hard bits will be hard – they always are, but keep going. All projects, even the best ones, involve a bit of blood sweat and tears.  Learn the Best Practice script, stick to it and you’ll come out right in the end. Ultimately it’s not about good project or program management. It’s just about good management. Leaders must ensure that the right things are done the right way at the right time.

Do you care?

So start with Post Implementation Reviews. The Managing Benefits manual gives you the questions to start asking (in Chapter 9) and some good examples from organizations such as NASA, BP and British Telecom Several years ago I heard Steve speak at the International PRINCE2 showcase in London, UK.  He was still at the Criminal Justice Department at the time. He said that benefits management could be summed up with the phrase “do you care?”  Starting post implementation reviews sends out a strong message that you do.

Does your organization practice Post Implementation Reviews?