The changing face of project success

Why benefits realisation should be the focus of your change initiative


A recent study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) showed that for the first time in five years, the global rate of project success has been increasing.  They declared; “More projects are meeting original goals and business intent while being completed within budget — and…fewer projects are deemed failures.”


There are several reasons why this may be the case, but a key indicator is that organisations are maturing not only in the way they deliver change but how success is tracked/measured, and by making benefits realisation a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).


The sole KPIs of a project are often just the traditional measures of a project being delivered on time and on budget.  Still valid and important measures, but the ‘project leaders’ are those that report a high benefits realisation maturity.


Developing a change and improvement culture and putting in place project standards and support networks at the heart of an organisation certainly helps remove the fear of change.  Indeed, 32% of survey respondents consider both technical and leadership skills a high priority. And if a project’s success is assessed in a more mature way and project benefits are identified, defined, tracked (managed) and measured, then we tend to achieve better results.


There is, of course, a large degree of variation in change management maturity levels among different organisations, sectors and regions.  A large part of the work we do at BDO Greenlight is helping organisations create a culture for change.  We work with companies to develop project management talent. We have helped establish or develop PMO’s (Project Management Offices).  We can help companies understand best practise project sponsorship, and we can even help you master ‘agile’ as a technique for managing projects.  Interestingly, these are all areas where global project leaders report expertise and maturity.


Organisational cultures don’t change overnight and the right project framework for your organisation might not suit that of another.  However, if you can focus on managing project benefits and ensuring you use benefits realisation as a measure of success, the culture of how change is initiated, delivered and managed will start to change - for the better.


At a recent BDO Greenlight event, international futurist Ray Hammond predicted there is going to be a big growth in demand for change management services over the next few years as the economy enters a new phase – one based on harnessing technology, where the most innovative firms will become the leaders of the future.


We have already seen how companies that were disruptive tech start ups a few years ago are now some of the most successful businesses around. FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are now the establishment, with the megaliths they started out challenging over a decade ago, changing to be more like them.


It can be more challenging for established firms to adopt start up mentality, but this is something we’re already seeing in Jersey with local organisations who appreciate the value of a structure for continuous improvement, and who have shifted the way they measure change to better embrace the opportunities new technological developments offer.


As the definition of success changes, and benefits become the focus for a project, you should yourselves find more success and less waste.  As the president of the PMI concluded: “Organisations that invest in proven project management practices waste less money because more of their strategic initiatives are completed successfully.”