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Overstating the benefits?

Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher
Middlesex University

London, UK

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Benefits have long been associated with the deployment of technology and the use of decision making. Traditional decision making approaches are often focused on the measurement and consideration of the costs and the benefits associated with an undertaking and cost/benefit analysis has evolved as a process for evaluating the desirability of an option, technology or policy. Such calculations are based on the assignment of monetary values to the positive and negative aspects of a decision, or option, enabling a direct comparison.

In the last twenty years the project management literature has come to terms with the idea of benefits realisation through portfolios.  The main idea is to ensure that the benefits used to justify an investment can be realised and managed so that the performance of the system or policy matches the promise, and hopefully that the expectations derived from the promise and the business case are fulfilled.

What came first, the project or the benefits?

More recently the idea of benefits has been linked to individual projects and the satisfaction of stakeholder concerns. Moreover, the success of a project is increasingly linked to engagement, relationship management and expectation management pertaining to disparate stakeholder groups. In order to reach such communities and measure the success of change efforts the idea of managing and realising benefits has gained prominence and is increasingly addressed through established processes.

However, projects are not meant to uncover benefits unless they are exploratory initiatives or prototyping attempts concerned with testing the feasibility or value of a particular approach. Indeed, projects are created and executed in order to deliver lasting and meaningful benefits to the organisation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management

Middlesex University

London, UK

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Software Project Management at Middlesex University and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.  Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond.  He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.  Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for PM World Today.  For more information, visit http://www.cs.mdx.ac.uk/ncpm/d_dalcher.html.