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Selecting Good Benefits, Proving the Goals

We’ve looked at the goals. Now we have to put some value to them, to find out what it’s all worth.  Here it is a matter of choosing the right things to do, for the right reasons and then doing them.  

‘Benefit’ Defined

The word ‘benefit’ gets misused an awful lot and your plans won’t get far if no-one can agree on what a benefit actually is so it’s worth taking the time to explain what it actually means.

A benefit is a result that a stakeholder perceives to be of value 

Make sure there is a clear statement of the benefit, i.e. what makes it worthwhile. We have to make a clear distinction away from features and outcomes. Here’s a dumb example: 

  • Feature - my car is painted ‘Police Car’ white
  • Outcome - people move over for me on the motorway so I get home for 6 pm
  • Benefit - I improve my inner calm by watching The Simpsons on TV


In this case, I’m the stakeholder and I think the best value for me of getting home early is a calming episode of my favourite TV programme.

We have to sort out very quickly just who the relevant stakeholders are. We're not just doing things for the right reasons, we also have to make sure we're doing it for the right people.

More detail on Stakeholders

If you were working on a project in a hospital it could be something like this:

  • Feature – a useful function of the system, e.g. high bandwidth, resilience, small size
  • Outcome – a result that can be used to gain some benefit, e.g. time saving
  • Benefit – the valued use to which you put the outcome, e.g. using saved time to see more patients

We should be talking about improving patient health, reducing waiting lists, stopping un-necessary procedures, not improving network performance, reducing down-time and stopping legacy information systems.

More detail on Benefits Selection

We need a rational framework to enable better decisions to be made and good benefits to be delivered. We need a structured approach that will:

  • Prove the link between what we do and what we want to achieve
  • Maximise the benefits from the things we do
  • Gives us solid reasons to back up our choices
  • Gets all the right people involved     

‘Benefits Management’ Defined

Benefits Management is the overall set of decisions, processes and activities that makes best use of what you have to deliver the right benefits to the people you’ve chosen to get them.

Benefits Selection

The purpose of any Benefits Management method is to identify, quantify, prioritise, select and manage benefits from business change. Benefits Selection takes us through the first four items. It is the technique to create a rational and logical understanding of the:

  • Drivers
  • Goals
  • Context
  • Benefits
  • Business Change

Once we have this understanding we can select benefits that are appropriate, feasible and of optimum value for our circumstances.

Experience has shown that the identification and structuring of benefits is rarely straightforward. There is a common tendency to slip back to the features of the new system; it’s faster, cheaper, etc. This leaves the benefits undefined. Everyone agrees that the new system is a good thing but no-one can say why it’s good, how good it is or who it’s good for. The technique of Benefits Selection brings some rigour to process. By using the technique of Benefits Selection you will produce a set of benefits that:

  • Support your goals
  • Have the most significant impact
  • Are agreed by all stakeholders
  • Are manageable  

Before running away with a brilliant new idea, it needs to be checked to see how good it really is and how well it fits with who we are and what we do. Hypothesis testing is a way of testing new ideas against your strategy, goals and context.

Hypothesis Testing

Having looked at the goals and benefits it's time to see how they are connected. The Goal Model is a picture of your project that shows how it all links together.

Goal Modelling