The Benefits of the Earned Benefit Framework

Counteracting the Common Causes of “Project” Failure


Applying Earned Benefit Management


By Crispin (“Kik”) Piney, PgMP, PfMP

Southern France


This article was triggered by Alan Stretton’s series of articles in the PM World Journal, and especially his latest one, in November 2018, entitled “Responsibilities for ‘project’ successes/failures?” On reading that article, I realized that the Earned Benefit Framework can – and should – be applied to counteract a number of the highlighted issues.

Introduction: What I Had Overlooked

I have just realized that, although the Earned Benefit Method insists on the importance of starting from the “why” of any endeavour,  (i.e., the intended benefit) before focussing on the “how” (i.e., the actions, tools and techniques), I have so far omitted to explain the basic, organizational benefits of applying this method. To date, I have explained the power of the method for providing all of the information required for effective realization of the forecast benefits along with the associated techniques and algorithms. However, if the organization is dysfunctional, the results of the techniques will also be worthless

The real “why” for applying the Earned Benefit Framework is to enhance project value and business success in a predictable and repeatable manner. As will be explained, one definite cause of failures in benefits-realted endeavours is the lack of tools and concepts specific to program management, allied, all-too-often, to the lack of the will for greater visibility. In addition, all such endeavours are carried out as if the use of project management concepts and tools will be sufficient for ensuring success. It will be shown that neither these project management concepts nor these tools are, in fact, adequate for achieving success in complex programs, and that the Earned Benefit Framework can provide the solution to these problems.

The current article will explain how the application of the Earned Benefit Framework along with the adoption of an Organizational Project Management model can counteract incomplete and unreliable organizational practices that seriously undermine the chances of project success.


Alan Stretton has given me permission to quote extensively from his recent article in PM World Journal [Stretton (2018)], and I would like to acknowledge his contribution to raising my awarenesss of the issues and for trusting me to make good use of his material.

Link to Previous Articles

Earlier articles in this series [Piney 2018b, Piney 2018c, Piney 2018d, Piney 2018e, Piney 2018f, Piney 2018g] explained how to apply the Earned Benefit cost and benefit evaluation algorithms to a representative case study.

The current article changes topic, away from the technical details of method, to concentrate on the organization as a whole.

In order to allow this article to be understood independently of the earlier ones in the series, some reminders are provided below, plus an overview of the case study,  prior to addressing the current topic of counteracting common sources of project failure.

Reminder on Benefits Realization Maps

A Benefits Realization Map (BRM) illustrates how to make the benefits happen. The BRM for the case study is shown in Figure 1.

BRMs can be developed in two passes, as follows:

Top-Down Strategy Decomposition

Once the anticipated benefits have been defined by the strategic sponsor, you need to determine all of the steps that are required for delivering this result, as well as their interdependencies, thereby allowing you to identify the necessary component projects (“initiatives”). The links from each logical step to the next are quantified based on their relative importance for contributing to realizing the benefits (the “contribution fraction” for the link).

The Benefits Allotment Routine (BAR) uses the forecast benefit value of the strategic objectives in conjunction with the link contribution fractions to calculate the contribution to the anticipated benefits of each node in the BRM. In particular, the BAR evaluates the contribution to the anticipated benefits of each component project.


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How to cite this article: Piney, C. (2018). The Benefits of the Earned Benefit Framework: Counteracting the Common Causes of “Project” Failure; Series on Applying Earned Benefits Management, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue XII (December). Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/pmwj77-Dec2018-Piney-Benefits-of-the-Earned-Benefit-Framework.pdf

About the Author

Crispin Piney




After many years managing international IT projects within large corporations, Crispin (“Kik”) Piney, B.Sc., PgMP is now a freelance project management consultant based in the South of France. At present, his main areas of focus are risk management, integrated Portfolio, Program and Project management, scope management and organizational maturity, as well as time and cost control. He has developed advanced training courses on these topics, which he delivers in English and in French to international audiences from various industries. In the consultancy area, he has developed and delivered a practical project management maturity analysis and action-planning consultancy package.

Kik has carried out work for PMI on the first Edition of the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3™) as well as participating actively in fourth edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge and was also vice-chairman of the Translation Verification Committee for the Third Edition. He was a significant contributor to the second edition of both PMI’s Standard for Program Management as well as the Standard for Portfolio Management. In 2008, he was the first person in France to receive PMI’s PgMP® credential; he was also the first recipient in France of the PfMP® credential. He is co-author of PMI’s Practice Standard for Risk Management. He collaborates with David Hillson (the “Risk Doctor”) by translating his monthly risk briefings into French. He has presented at a number of recent PMI conferences and published formal papers.

Kik Piney is the author of the book Earned Benefit Program Management, Aligning, Realizing and Sustaining Strategy, published by CRC Press in 2018

Kik Piney can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Kik Piney, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/crispin-kik-piney/