Final | October 2018 | v1.0.0 | OFFICIAL-Public | QGCIO
Agency and business buy-in is achieved when digital or ICT strategies are linked to tangible business benefits.
A benefit is defined as a measure improvement from change, which is perceived as positive by one or more stakeholders, and which contributes to organisational (including strategic) objectives. Dis-benefits arise when the change in state detracts from the achievement of strategic objectives or is perceived as negative or by one or more stakeholders.
Whilst the identification of benefits is desirable, defining outcomes may initially be easier, particularly in circumstances where the agency has a low level of maturity with respect to benefits identification and management. Outcomes are achieved because of projects or activities undertaken to effect the change (e.g. on the creation of capability that has been implemented into an operational context). Outcomes differ from benefits. Benefits are the measurable, financial, quantifiable or observable difference between the initial state and the outcome.
The practices in this guideline should be conducted in collaboration with the stakeholders identified in the Initiate workstream. These stakeholders may include:
- Public stakeholders including service users and special interest or advocacy groups
- Internal stakeholders including delivery teams of performance monitoring groups
- External stakeholder including potential delivery partners and subject matter experts
- Government stakeholders including other agencies, potential partners and central agencies.
A practitioner in the context of this guideline can include one or more of the following roles:
- Digital and ICT strategic planners
- Agency and service strategic planners
- Workforce planners
- Business analysts
- Benefits specialists
- Information managers.
Benefits management is a process for identifying, planning, measuring and monitoring the realisation of benefits. It generally includes five iterative stages:
- Identify and structure benefits – in this first step, the components and links of the benefits dependency network are explored and documented (Dis-benefits are documented).
- Plan for benefits realisation – A benefits realisation plan documents a structured process for managing the progressive achievement of defined benefits.
- Execute benefits plan – the progress of benefits realisation is managed and achievement is monitored for the life of the program or project.
- Review and evaluate results – at a series of formal review sessions key stakeholders assess the evidence of benefits realised through program or project execution.
- Review the potential for further benefits – a formal and continuing review where key stakeholders assess the potential for additional benefits not previously identified. This may result in the identification of an entirely new business initiative – hence the iterative nature of the benefits management process.
While you can identify specific benefits to be delivered as part of programs and projects, similar techniques can also be used to define high-level benefits that will be realised through the transformation of digital or ICT services.
Benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps
This guideline is concerned with the first stage of the benefits lifecycle and applies mapping techniques such as benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps to document the benefits and align benefits to the digital or ICT objectives and drivers. Benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps are a pictorial means of capturing key elements and links them in a logical format to objectives and business changes.
The identification of benefits could be conducted either as a separate workshop or may be incorporated into vision or objectives planning workshops with stakeholders. Defining the benefits will use the outputs of the Vision activities and the determination of objectives, and may assist to refine the vision and objectives when incorporated as part of the same workshop.
Benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps ensure clear linkages between the drivers, objectives and benefits. They also introduce the concepts of business changes and enablers which can then form the basis for the identification of strategies.
Benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps are typically used to identify the expected benefits of specific programs and projects however the technique can be applied more broadly to strategic documents and plans by defining benefits at a higher level.
It is unlikely a practitioner would use a benefits dependency network or investment logic map directly in a digital or ICT strategy or plan. These methods are however a structured method of defining benefits and changes that need to occur so the practitioner can describe them as part of the narrative in a strategic document.
The benefits dependency network or investment logic map can also be revisited in the later investment planning activities.
Building Queensland provide a structure for the investment logic map that includes:
- benefits sought
- strategic response
- business changes.
Typical benefits dependency networks and investment logic maps include the following elements:
- business changes
This guideline will focus on drivers, objectives, benefits, business changes and enablers.
Drivers and objectives
Drivers can be derived from the vision activities where techniques such as Porter’s five forces model, SWOT analysis or PESTEL analysis have been used to identify the business drivers.
Objectives can be derived from the vision planning activities. Objectives are the specific and measurable changes to the current state that are to be achieved in specific timeframes.
A benefit statement is made up of an overarching statement that provides line-of-sight to the outcomes the agency is seeking. An effective benefit statement should support an investment focus rather than on the assets or things that will be delivered.
In relation to benefits, Building Queensland state:
- Benefits statements should provide an obvious connection to the government’s or agency’s outcomes, but be contextualised to indicate their local impact.
- It is critical any benefits claimed are supported by reasonable KPIs, which are meaningful, attributable and measurable. These KPIs should be outcome focused, rather than output or activity focused.
- The emphasis should be on the results or impact of the work done to deliver the benefit and overcome a problem.
The Investment Logic Mapping Guide from Building Queensland outlines several questions to be considered when developing a benefit statement. These include:
- What value will the agency get out of investing in change and how will the agency know whether value has been delivered?
- What benefits will the agency expect in successfully responding to a business problem or problems?
- What outcomes will the agency get from remedying a problem?
- What benefit will government and the community get from investment in change?
- What part of the government agenda will this investment support?
- What KPIs will demonstrate value and are outcome focused?
Benefits management defines a number of benefits types to assist with the identification and framing of both tangible and intangible benefits. These include:
- environmental and social benefits
- cost related benefits such as cost reduction, cost avoidance or increased revenue
- service related benefits including improved productivity and service enhancement
- political return benefits.
Another approach is to focus on the stakeholders (e.g. student, parent, teacher or customer, customer service officer, call centre operator) and discuss what will change either positively or negatively (dis-benefits) as result of achieving the desired objectives.
Business changes are the innovative and contemporary ways of working that will be required in the future if the benefit is to be achieved and sustained. The vision planning activities such as journey mapping or service blueprints will provide a focus for defining the business changes. These business changes may include but are not limited to:
- changes in policy or governance arrangements
- adoption of new business processes or models of service delivery
- changes to the skills and capabilities of the agency’s workforce, including the digital worker
- changes to the ways services are marketed or campaigns are conducted
- changes to the way people access services and products (e.g. online)
- contemporary ways for people to connect (e.g. social media, telecommuting and virtual meetings or consultations)
- innovative ways for people access, provide use or receive information
- adoption of evolving information management practices
- changes to the way information is stored, secured and shared
- changes to the structure of the agency or business units involved
- new partnerships or increased use of service partners.
Benefits management defines enablers as changes that are undertaken only once. These one-off changes can bring about more enduring business changes or bring in new systems as well as ensure they are used effectively. Examples include:
- development of new policies or policy changes
- definition of new measures and the information needed to use them
- mapping of current processes and design of new processes
- establishment of rules and practices for collecting the evolving information required
- business rules and practices for managing and sharing information
- activities relating to workforce skills development
- strategic sourcing of new skills and capability required to support innovative ways of working or delivering services
- education on how the new systems can improve performance
- establishment of strategic partnership arrangements with service delivery partners
- reallocation of resources and budgets
- digital or ICT capability that may be required.
Linking drivers, objectives, changes and enablers to benefits
As the terms network and map imply, drawing the linkages between the elements of a benefits dependency network or investment logic map is an important part of defining and mapping benefits and changes.
Linking the elements assists in identifying any gaps and provides a check the elements in the benefits dependency network or investment logic map are realistic and relevant. For example, a benefit that has no business changes mapped to it may indicate the benefit is unlikely to be realised or there are business changes required that have not yet been identified.
Business changes and enablers can assist in later activities to provide the focus for the identification of specific strategies.
The methods outlined in this guideline are iterative. It might take several workshops with several diverse groups of people to articulate the final drivers, objectives, benefits, business changes and enablers.
It is important to ‘play back’ the outputs of workshops to participants within a short timeframe from the workshop. This will maintain interest and ensure the participants feel like their time to participate was worthwhile.
Once the benefits, business changes and enablers have been defined, the required principles can be defined.