A core reason for making change in organisation is that it is going to make things better. The specific benefits will depend on the nature of the change, but could include:
• Improving processes
• Improving efficiency and effectiveness
• Delivering a better experience for customers or service users
• Providing a better working environment.
When looking to make change there is usually going to be a need for a proposal or business case to be written to secure the investment.
Having been involved in many business cases over the years, it is fair to say that in general the identification, quantification and realisation of benefits is probably one of the toughest parts of the process.
One of the contributing factors is that those preparing business cases tend to be overly optimistic about either:
• The number of benefits
• The value of the benefits in financial and non-financial terms
• The time frame within which benefits can be achieved.
So what can you do about it? One option is to build some of reality check or stress testing to the benefits that have been identified.
In many ways this means putting them under the microscope metaphorically and really seeing how robust they are.
Of course unlike the microscope where there is a body of evidence, you may well have to create your own conditions to reality check your benefits. One approach is to use a series of questions like:
• Is the benefit clearly stated?
• Is the benefit unique to this business case or are there other factors not related to this business case that could mean it realised whether this case goes ahead or not?
• Is there a detailed plan showing how it will be realised?
• Is there a clearly defined owner of the benefit who has agreed to be accountable for delivery?
• How much risk is there around the identified financial value?
• Has there been any benchmarking undertaken or learning points identified from similar business cases?
Of course with any investment there is going to be some element of risk. The challenge is to make sure that that the risk of identified benefits is minimised.
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