Welcome to the August 2017 PMWJ

The Missing Link, Benefits Realization Management… and Welcome to the August edition of the PM World Journal

David Pells

Managing Editor
PM World Journal

Addison, Texas, USA


Welcome to the August 2017 edition of the PM World Journal (PMWJ), the 61st uninterrupted monthly edition. This edition continues to reflect the international nature of this publication; 27 original articles, papers and other works by 33 different authors in 14 different countries. News articles about projects and project management around the world are also included. Since the primary mission of this journal is to support the global sharing of knowledge, please share this month’s edition with others in your network, wherever in the world they may be.

Since last August, on the recommendation of several international advisors, I have used this opportunity to mention important trends or issues that I see as journal editor. This month, I want to discuss benefits realization management, a topic that most of you may not be knowledgeable enough about. That was true for me before I launched some serious research on the topic about two months ago. As a 35 year practitioner of professional project management, with many years of experience as a professional leader, I thought I knew all I needed to know about program and project management. I’ve had to rethink that assessment.

The missing link between the strategy and results

In recent years, a number of significant papers have been written about the importance of both the front end and the back end of the project life cycle. In particular, current project management bodies of knowledge and standards have been criticized for lack of enough attention to the pre-investment stage of projects and the post-delivery and operational stages after projects are ‘completed’. Some excellent papers on these topics that I am familiar with include recent works by Alan Stretton and Russ Archibald:

  • The Six-Phase Comprehensive Project Life Cycle Model Including the Project Incubation/Feasibility Phase and the Post-Project Evaluation Phase, by Russell D. Archibald, Ivano Di Filippo and Daniele Di Filippo; December 2012 [1]
  • Involving program/project managers in organizational strategic planning?, Stretton, July 2011 [2]
  • A further note on involving program/ project managers in organisational strategic planning, Stretton, October 2013 [3]
  • Project Outputs and Customers Outcomes, Stretton, February 2016 [4]
  • Organizational strategic plans, projects, and strategic outcomes, Stretton, April 2016 [5]
  • Adding value to project clients, Stretton, December 2016 [6]

In my opinion, benefits realization management (BRM) can successfully link program and project outcomes (and stakeholder benefits) to organizational strategies; BRM might be the missing link in managing the program and project lifecycle. Perhaps this is misunderstood because of the generic nature of the word “benefit”; more likely it is due to its incorporation only into program management standards and guides, not in those addressing project management. Perhaps it is also due to the widely accepted notion that strategies and strategic planning are the responsibility of senior executives, not project managers.

This understanding misses the critical link: strategies should flow from desired outcomes and benefits, programs and projects then flow from strategies to achieve those benefits. Programs and projects must deliver the desired benefits in order to be successful. Traditional project performance measures no longer suffice. We’ve heard many times that successful outcomes depend on doing the ‘right projects right’, but doing the right projects depends on having the right strategies, and that in turn requires strategies aimed at achieving “benefits”. Successful programs and projects are those that deliver full benefits (creating the desired ‘value”); delivering projects on budget and schedule matters little if benefits are not delivered.

Program and project managers need to not only fully understand organizational strategies, they need to understand and embrace the desired outcomes and benefits to be achieved. Identifying, defining, tracking, implementing and measuring benefits provide the long missing link between organizational strategies, programs, projects, outcomes and value. Unfortunately, this is not all so easy as it seems.

The light bulb: Benefits in program(me) management

In April, I delivered a briefing on PMI’s Standard for Program Management to executives of a major U.S. government program office in Washington, DC. That standard is organized around five core “domains”: strategy alignment, benefits management, stakeholder management, governance and life cycle management. The leaders in the room were all well versed in traditional project management concepts and easily grasped the points about strategy, stakeholders, governance and life cycle. They were however interested in learning more about program benefits management and requested another in-depth briefing on this topic. Over the last the last few months, I have researched program benefits management, not only in the USA but in several other countries. The results have changed my perspective on not only program management but also on project and portfolio management…


To read entire paper, click here


About the Author

David L. Pells

Managing Editor, PMWJ
Managing Director, PMWL



David L. Pells
is Managing Editor of the PM World Journal (https://www.pmworldjournal.net/) and Managing Director of the PM World Library (http://www.pmworldlibrary.net/). David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 35 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, energy, defense, transit, technology and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to billions of dollars. He occasionally acts as project management advisor for U.S. national laboratories and international programs, and currently serves as an independent advisor for a major U.S. national nuclear security program.

David Pells has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, serving on the board of directors of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) twice. He was founder and chair of the Global Project Management Forum (1995-2000), an annual meeting of leaders of PM associations from around the world. David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award, PMI’s highest honor, in 1999. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; Project Management Associates (PMA – India); and Russian Project Management Association. Since 2010 he is an honorary member of the Project Management Association of Nepal.

Former managing editor of PM World Today, he is the creator, editor and publisher of the PM World Journal (since 2012). David has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from Idaho State University in the USA. He has published widely and spoken at conferences and events worldwide. David lives near Dallas, Texas and can be contacted at [email protected]

To see other works by David Pells, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/david-l-pells/