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Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars

on 6 March 2016
This well-written book starts by explaining the fundamentals of Benefits Realisation Management (BRM). It debunks popular myths, and explains why adherence to outdated beliefs can prevent organisations realising all of the benefits that could arise from change. However most of this “practical guide” is devoted to applying BRM to various situations.

First it covers how to apply BRM to projects and programmes (as early in the cycle as you can), then extends this to portfolios (projects or programmes applying BRM well are far more likely to deliver their business case benefits), and closes with implementing BRM across an entire organisation (run it as a programme and apply BRM to it to demonstrate the benefits). The text is peppered with real examples from the author's extensive experience, and the liberal use of colour diagrams helps to cement understanding.

The book explains how best to apply BRM now if you are part way through the project/programme lifecycle, and also highlights the most important aspects to apply if you have limited time or resources (although this will not generate full returns).

It even has a section that summarises the entire book "in a nutshell" so that you can quickly find a summary of the principle you need and refer to the more detailed section of the book if necessary.

At an RRP of £80 this book is not cheap, but it has 300-odd pages of wisdom and insights to impart, some of which I have listed below to give you a flavour of what to expect.

• Most current organisational change focusses on acquiring and implementing enabling technology (solutions looking for problems), without any subsequent steps to embed its use (business change).
• Benefits are often derived to justify implementing some attractive capability. But benefits should be the reason sponsors commission projects. So begin with the end in mind. Don't just implement capability; plan to use it to create value.
• Starting with benefits increases sponsor buy-in and accountability, as the project flows from the sponsor to the implementation.

• Stakeholder = anyone who could screw things up!
• Stakeholders deliver benefits by changing their behaviours to use new capability, so work with them.

• Sometimes organisations "realise" benefits by removing benefit amounts from future budgets. However this can leave the organisation worse off (e.g. reducing headcount without improving efficiency)
• The Project Sponsor is accountable for benefits, but realisation of each benefit should be "owned" by an operational manager. This person will be highly motivated if they are also the beneficiary.

• Projects are usually defined in terms of delivering enablers. The business case benefits are often forgotten once the project is up and running.
• To focus on benefits rather than enablers, name the project or programme after the outcome to be achieved (e.g. Crime Reduction, Customer Satisfaction), rather than the enabling deliverable (e.g. CCTV network, Ordering System).

• Benefits Facilitator – Educates, challenges and guides projects and programmes on BRM. Ideally independent from projects and programmes, and business- rather than IT- or PM-aligned. Exists before the project (contributes to the business case), and afterwards (oversees benefit tracking). A role for the Enterprise PMO (EPMO)?

• “Proper” BRM costs about 5% of total project costs, but has a VERY high ROI.
• BRM practitioners are scarce, so use them where they will have maximum impact and return.

• Mapping benefit/dis-benefit distribution across stakeholder groups can identify gaps and disparities. If no-one will own a benefit, is it real?
• Categorising benefits by type (Definite, Expected, Logical, Financial, non-financial) and by change type (starting new things, stopping old things, doing old things better) can identify duplication, and help with consolidation.

• It is tempting to value each benefit financially, to derive an NPV for the entire benefit set. Whilst possible, this can conceal assumptions (redundancies will result from higher productivity), and may produce double counting.
• Measurement illustrates whether BRM is on track. "What you measure is what you get", so choose KPIs carefully to encourage desired behaviours.
• Set targets if the outcome is well defined, otherwise just track the measure and note the trend, with a view to informing future initiatives.
• Start measurement (to provide baseline data) immediately the measure is agreed, or as soon as measurement is possible (to track trends).

• Holding workshops to generate benefits dependency maps scored with weighted paths helps to determine the order in which changes should be carried out, increases stakeholder buy-in to the changes, and gives a framework for realisation tracking.
• Tracing benefits backwards to their enablers facilitates the creation of draft project briefs. If these changes are not already in progress, they can be costed and prioritised.

• Even if PMs only deliver enablers and outputs, they should keep an eye on benefits and the business case throughout the whole of delivery.
• If programmes close on the completion of significant change activity, benefit tracking may suffer unless this is handed over to a function such as the EPMO.

• Projects and programmes should be independently reviewed regularly to ensure the benefits are still viable. The project should only continue to completion if it is demonstrably worthwhile.

• Benefits should be at the heart of PgM and PjM. For example, the Risks and Issues log should primarily contain risks to the realisation of benefits; Stakeholder engagement should focus on gaining benefit owners’ commitment to the realisation of benefits.
• BRM can be used to maximise the benefits arising from change portfolios, and to assess the fit of proposed new Projects and Programmes with those already running.
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on 8 June 2010
Book Review taken from the APM PMOSIG - reviewed by PMO professional, Martin McCann.

I found Gerald Bradley's new edition of his 2006 book an interesting and comprehensive read. It's packed full of all you'd ever really need to know about the theory and principles of Benefit Realisation Management (BRM) and the methods and processes behind it, as developed by Bradley's Sigma consultancy over the last twenty five years. Much of the BRM element of the OGC MSP guidance was based on Bradley's work, although it might be worth stressing that he does not feel that the '07 version of MSP incorporates the BRM principles to maximum effect.

From a PPSOSIG perspective, however, I should point out that the book is light on PMO-specific guidance, and only makes reference to PMOs in a couple of short sections. That said, PPSOSIG members may be interested in the potential implications that implementing BRM in your organisation could have on your PMO. BRM's underlying principles will strike a chord with anyone interested in improving how their organisation manages its long term change programmes, and may be of particular relevance to those of you working in a Portfolio Office or Centre of Excellence-type function. Effective BRM relies on the organisation logging, measuring and monitoring its benefits, so it is entirely possible that these activities that may end up being handled by a PMO.

This book is likely to appeal to people more inclined towards Programme / Portfolio Management than those solely focused on project delivery. However, Project Managers should still find it useful. Effective BRM can help Project Managers experience a more stability and reassurance by helping them understand exactly how their work fits into the bigger picture and appreciate the longer term implications of their project.

One of the main barriers to adopting effective BRM can be your organisation's PPM maturity. If your organisation is already reasonably mature, your senior management are much more likely to be amenable to the aims of BRM and the work necessary to implement and embed it than managers in a less mature organisation.

And this, for me, is one of the book's main downsides: I don't feel the book is as accessible as it could be to those who need it the most. It's almost a case of "never mind the width, feel the Quality!", and coming in at over 350 pages, the book is hardly a quick read. Busy managers could find it hard to devote the time necessary to work their way through it. A reader familiar with the basics of PPM could probably dip in and out or skim certain sections, but newbies or novices would have a lot of contextual theory to wade through.

Securing that elusive senior management buy-in and commitment to follow through is the only way to get the most out of BRM, but this book alone is unlikely to get you the commitment you need. Given the time constraints and information overload that many of us experience nowadays, the author could consider developing a more concise BRM overview to tempt in senior managers (perhaps in a similar vein to the OGC's pocketbooks or Prince2's "Directing Successful Projects" guidance) and encourage more of them to explore the realm of BRM without having to resort to a Sigma consultancy workshop.

I personally found some of the book's concepts very useful. For example, if used properly, the Benefit Dependency Maps could be incredibly powerful for conveying the complexities involved in a typical programme and helping Enabler Project Managers understand how they link into the longer-term plan. The section on the various different ways for classifying benefits, to help ensure you understand where your gaps and opportunities lie across a variety of perspectives, can also be a very powerful tool.

This second edition is well worth a read, but if you already own the first edition of this book, I'd only suggest buying it again if you are seriously considering (or are in the process of) implementing BRM in your organisation. The meat of the processes and methods are pretty much the same, but it does include additional guidance on measures, tracking benefits, some updated case studies and references to the new editions of MSP and P3O. The inclusion of colour diagrams is also a welcome addition to the new edition, instantly making the Benefit Maps more accessible at a glance. However, the sheer number of different colour conventions adopted could potentially cause further confusion for casual observers, and be warned: anyone with a degree of colourblindness may struggle to differentiate between some of the subtleties of the colour schemes.

Unfortunately, the book's index (although significantly improved from the last edition) is a little inflexible, and could still do with some refinement. The reader's ability to "dip in and out" could be greatly hampered by the lack of certain key references in the index. For example, the index overlooks the references to Programme Management Offices in the chapter on case studies, and doesn't even register the section on Portfolio Management Offices in the chapter on Maintaining an Optimum Change Portfolio.

In summary, this has the potential to be a brilliant addition to your bookshelf. However, as with any guidance like this, the key to successful implementation rests not in the book, but in how you choose to apply it. The current period of belt-tightening and impending austerity may well be just the right time for BRM to come to the fore, and if so, this book could help keep you forewarned and forearmed.

It's not perfect, and it's not for the casual reader, but if you're interested in learning more about BRM or intent on translating BRM from buzzword to established practice in your organisation, this book is an invaluable resource.
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on 25 September 2013
It encompasses the whole subject thoroughly; connecting it to Prince, 6 Sigma and other common methodologies. Anyone familiar with project management techniques will quickly understand the network mapping of defined benefits with dependencies onto project outcomes. This in turn gives visibility to whether or not a project(s) actually leads to beneficial outcomes.

Chapter 4 gives an overview of BRM and if I had just that I would probably not have paid £65 for the whole book.

However, diving into the detail; chapters 7 to 11 hold the real meat and drink of the idea and these are well worth the read.
The highly document lead approaches suggested later on seem very much project management by form filling and left me a bit cold as did the use of BRM in Project Portfolio Management, something I have a particular interest in.

In fact the later chapters are pretty tedious and devalued the book and the idea for me a bit because they present a problem with the BRM paradigm as a whole:

Although BRM helps you align outcomes to benefits it is weak on building truth and certainty and so if a psychopath in your organisation wants a project to go ahead, and defines spectacular benefits, BRM provides little rigour in itself towards validating its own case. By the time your PMO realise the benefits case was fudged, which could be years, that middle management psycho may well be the CEO.

I bought Gerald Bradley’s book along with Value Management by Roger Davis from the same publisher and it’s fascinating to contrast them in style and subject.

Frankly “Value Management” outshines BRM for validating alignment it with its use of Systems Thinking to provide rigour, dynamic modelling and direct connection (causal linkage) to the cost base of an organisation or change program.
BRM is good conceptually and useful for thinking out a business case clearly but it doesn’t prove much!

Last word: This is a useful book but £65 is dear for the quality of the content. If it was half the length it would be worth the price!
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on 3 February 2012
Whilst this book covers the ground thoroughly it is not very engaging, few of the anecdotes are terribly inspiring, and it is repetitive. It would be a reasonable buy for £15 but for £66??
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on 16 April 2010
I got this book about 3 years ago and since I've used almost all its concepts in the day-to-day consultancy work I've been doing. It is extremely detailed and it delves significantly into Six Sigma methodology, taking into consideration PRINCE2 techniques, MSP, MOR, and the Balanced Scorecard - a brilliant combination which helps deliver better results. It covers every single aspect to be taken into consideration in a business change scenario, from business case, to project and programme and to benefits realisation in operations. It gives examples on how to apply its concepts and it explains any term used in a business language. It is equally useful to junior and senior consultants interested in change management and benefits realisation. Highly recommended.
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on 27 June 2016
well described contents on the basics and utility of BRM
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on 6 February 2014
Drawings do not translate into kindle format very well - too small! These are my extra words - not clever to ask for words you don't want to provide.
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