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Benefits Realisation Management and Strategic Project Success - Analysis of UK, USA and Brazil

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Abstract

This article is based on further analysis over the results of a research performed at the University of Warwick and participant of the PMI Survey Program, which had a paper awarded with the 2012 Postgraduate Student Award by the British Association for Project Management (Serra & Kunc, 2015; Serra & Kunc, 2013; Serra, 2012). It starts with an overview about some of the key Benefits Realisation Management (or Benefits Management) practices. Then, based on the analysis of 331questionnaires that were responded by Project Management practitioners in Brazil, United Kingdom and Unites States of America, it discusses the way these practices influence project success as well as the success perspectives influenced by these practices, and then it identifies some of the current gaps that can compromise project success from a strategic perspective. At the end, it presents new findings regarding the relationship between these practices and levels of Project Management qualification and different project types.
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... The importance of projects and programs for realizing business value and strategic objectives is widely documented (Atkinson, 1999;Pellegrinelli et al., 2007;Serra, 2015;Serra & Kunc, 2015;Shenhar & Dvir, 2007;Zwikael & Smyrk, 2012). Theoretical and empirical evidence increasingly points to the importance of effective governance in ensuring that projects realize their business case and secure the expected business value (APM, 2011;Flyvbjerg, 2006;Jenner, 2015;Thorp, 2001;Turner et al., 2010;Zwikael & Smyrk, 2015), which in turn helps realize organizational strategic objectives (Serra & Kunc, 2015). ...
... Indeed, the most pertinent and cross-cutting theme in project governance research is that contextual differences in projects determine the type and level of governance arrangements required. Hence, the optimal form of governance may vary by factors such as the level of complexity (Miller & Hobbs, 2005;Pitsis et al., 2014), level of risk (Abednego & Ogunlana, 2006;Chang, 2015;Zwikael & Smyrk, 2015), purpose of project outputs (Serra, 2015), and number of organizations involved (Ruuska et al., 2011;Turner & Keegan, 2001). For example, there are fundamental differences between projects that are completely internal to a single organization, projects led by a single core organization with a range of peripheral organizations, projects led by a dyad of core organization as in typical client-contractor relationships, and projects led by a network of core organizations (Ahola, 2018). ...
Thesis
There is a growing recognition that projects are the primary drivers of organizational change and strategy implementation. However, a large proportion of projects do not meet their intended objectives and the majority of projects are not aligned with organizational strategy. The project governance system occupies the prime position for ensuring that, firstly, projects are selected in accordance with their expected contribution to organizational strategy and, secondly, that projects realize their business case and the target benefits stated therein. These would, in turn, support the implementation of organizational strategy through projects. However, the literature on project governance is fragmented and despite past efforts by researchers in the field, there is yet a lack of consensus on what project governance is and the fundamental elements it constitutes. Furthermore, there is a dearth of research on how project governance can enable organizational strategy implementation through projects. Accordingly, this research aimed to examine the concept of project governance at a foundational level and to develop principles-based guidelines of project governance for enabling the implementation of organizational strategy through projects. To this end, a multi-method qualitative research design comprising three sequential studies was adopted. The first study was a systematic literature review of 271 publications on project governance from both academic and professional literature. The findings shed light on the discourse on project governance in the literature pertaining to its definition, theoretical underpinnings, forms, and role in enabling organizational strategy implementation. The second study involved semi-structured interviews with 23 project governance experts. The findings helped to elucidate how project governance is defined and implemented in practice, as well as experts’ guidelines on how a project governance system can be formulated to enable strategy implementation. Subsequently, the findings of the first and second study were synthesized to develop the preliminary guidelines comprising 7 principle statements and their related discussions. The third study employed the Delphi method to validate the preliminary guidelines based on feedback from a panel of 17 project governance experts. The preliminary guidelines were progressively revised based on the qualitative and quantitative feedback received from the panel over the three rounds of the study. The final guidelines were rated highly by the panel and comprise 10 principle statements that were unanimously endorsed by all panel members. The main theoretical contribution of this thesis is the development of an expanded conceptualization of governance of projects that represents a holistic approach to governance spanning all stages from strategy translation to benefits realization. It also contributes to the growing stream of literature that views projects as instrumental for strategy implementation, and also advocates a contingency theory perspective of project governance. The main practical contribution of this research is the development of a validated set of core principles that would serve to guide practitioners in developing and implementing a project governance system that would enable them to more effectively implement organizational strategic objectives through projects.
... One piece of empirical research that has published data by country is a study which compared BM practices in the UK, the USA and Brazil and related them to measures of project success (Serra, 2015;Serra and Kunc, 2015). The research data was collected from 331 practitioners, who had had a role on a project that was concluded sometime between 2010 and 2012. ...
... The variances between countries for these three BM practices are more likely to be due to other factors, such as the proportion of projects of an operational nature, rather than differences between nations (Serra, 2015). Rather, the more significant point is that despite the UK being at the forefront of developments in BM, there were no BM practices which the UK organisations were using more than their counterparts in the USA and Brazil (Serra and Kunc, 2015). ...
Article
It is now about 25 years since the emergence of benefits management (BM), but hitherto it has had limited impact on project management and even less on general management practices. This is despite evidence that a focus on benefits improves the success rate of projects and programmes. One of the areas for research to explain the limited uptake concerns the spread of knowledge on BM and its adoption by organisations. The theoretical lens of translation is used to examine this issue, which focuses on the processes through which management ideas spread and influence management practice. The global development of BM is traced to identify the changes in translation processes over time and the current geographical patterns of usage. This analysis is used in conjunction with the limited evidence available on translation processes at the level of the organisation to identify key factors for the impact of BM in the future.
... To ensure that both the team leaders and team members responded with respect to the same project, all respondents rated all variables based on their last completed project with their current leader or team member, in line with the approach used in other survey-based studies in the literature (Lai et al., 2018;Serra, 2015). Team members were asked to assess their supervisors' leadership behaviors during the last completed project. ...
Article
Employing self-determination and social identification theories, we examined how servant leadership, which focuses on employees’ needs, influences project success. Based on 453 responses from project team leader–project team member dyads working in a single organization, our findings suggest that servant leadership enhances project success predominantly by mitigating project work withdrawal, rather than accentuating work engagement. Additionally, when team members’ project identification is high, the servant leadership–work engagement relationship is weakened, whereas the servant leadership–project work withdrawal relationship is strengthened. We contribute to the nascent literature that positions servant leadership as an effective style in the project context.
... International Journal of Project Management 38 (2020) 1-16 in projects determine the type and level of governance arrangements required. Hence, the optimal form of governance may vary by factors such as the level of complexity (Miller & Hobbs, 2005;Pitsis et al., 2014), level of risk (Abednego & Ogunlana, 2006;Chang, 2015;Zwikael & Smyrk, 2015), purpose of project outputs (Serra, 2015), number of organizations involved (Ruuska et al., 2011;Turner & Keegan, 2001), etc. A typology for categorizing projects has implications for not only how the project governance system is formulated but also for how projects are aligned with strategy (Crawford, Hobbs, & Turner, 2006), how strategy is implemented through projects (Wikstr€ om, Artto, Kujala, & S€ oderlund, 2010), and how emergent strategies from projects arise and are exploited (Vuori, Artto, & Sallinen, 2012). ...
Article
Project governance is widely recognized to be among the most critical factors for successful project delivery and benefits realization. However, the literature on project governance is fragmented and, despite past efforts by researchers in the field, there is yet a lack of consensus on what project governance is and the fundamental elements it constitutes. Furthermore, although project governance occupies the prime position to ensure that projects are aligned with organizational strategic objectives, the guidelines for how project governance can enable organizational strategy implementation through projects is a crucial yet under-researched area in the literature. Accordingly, building on the insights from past reviews and an initial scoping study, a systematic literature review was conducted on project governance examining and comparing 271 publications from both academic and professional literatures. The findings of this study build upon the efforts of its predecessors to shed light on the discourse on project governance pertaining to its definition, theoretical underpinnings, forms, and role in enabling organizational strategy implementation. Furthermore, a typology of projects is proposed to help link project governance guidelines to specific project contexts. Finally, future research directions for progressing the theoretical and practical understanding of project governance are identified.
Conference Paper
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The APM Benefits Management Specific Interest Group (SIG) awarded the 2012 Postgraduate Student Award to Carlos Serra, a masters student from the University of Warwick, for the paper entitled The influence of Benefits Realisation Management on the success of projects in Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Carlos devised a sophisticated research framework to relate the uptake of benefits realisation practices to project success and the role of different groups. He combined quantitative and qualitative evidence, collected across three different countries. The results stress the link between benefits realisation management and the creation of value in the business, and also demonstrate a connection between benefits management and measures of overall project success.
Book
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The issue of what defines project success (or failure) is complex and often elusive, and dependent on the perceptions of different stakeholders. In this enlightening book Emanuel Camilleri examines the key factors bearing on perceived success or failure. In chapters dedicated to factors such as leadership, teams, communication, information management and risk management, the author shines a light on the key behaviours in which project managers and others engage and how those behaviours predict success or failure. Practising project managers, project board members and sponsors, struggling to manage conflicting stakeholder expectations, complexity and ambiguity, will learn which factors are vital to determining successful outcomes. Finally, having highlighted the particular skills, abilities and attributes identified by the research, Dr Camilleri offers a diagnostic model for assessing an organization's preparedness for undertaking and successfully managing major projects. Project Success provides a valuable contribution to the literature on this subject, and its application delivers practical guidance that will be welcomed by project professionals at all levels. Contents: Part I In search of factors that facilitate project success: Introduction; Perception of project success; Why some projects succeed and others fail. Part II Project Hygiene Support Factors: Project strategic fit; Project scope; Project organization structure; Project teams structure; Project planning and control. Part III Project Informational Support Factors: Information flow and knowledge management; Project risk management; Project competency development. Part IV Project Behavioural Management Support Factors: Management and leadership; Employee commitment and participation; Internal and external communication. Part V Organizational Project Diagnostic Model: Diagnosing an organization's preparedness for undertaking and managing projects; Index. About the Author: Before his retirement, Emanuel Camilleri was the Director General (Strategy and Operations Support) at the Maltese Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment. He has had a long career in the public sector in Australia, and has managed large projects. Dr Camilleri obtained his Business Studies bachelor’s degree at FIT currently, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, has an MBA from Brunel University, UK (prize winner), and a DBA from Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands. He is a certified accountant, a Chartered Engineer (British Engineer Council), European Engineer (FEANI, Paris), and member of many professional bodies. He represented Malta on a number of international bodies and is a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Malta. He has written and published a number of conference and other papers.
Article
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Business strategies, which imply organisational change, usually require the development of projects, e.g. IT projects. However, organisations fail in implementing their strategies even though they employ project, programme and portfolio management techniques. Benefits Realisation Management (BRM) is a set of processes structured to close the gap between strategy planning and execution by ensuring the implementation of the most valuable initiatives. However, there is no empirical evidence of its effectiveness. This paper presents the results of a survey to practitioners in Brazil, United Kingdom and United States evaluating the impact of BRM practices on project success rate. Our results show BRM practices being positive predictors to project success on the creation of strategic value for the business. Therefore, these results suggest that BRM practices can be effective to support the successful execution of business strategies.
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Strategic project management is gradually becoming a popular and growing trend within the discipline of project management. The general idea is that project management teams must learn how to deal with the business aspects of their projects, as well as better support their company's business strategy and sustainability, rather than just focus on meeting traditional time, budget, and performance goals. Although this approach has been gaining popularity, strategic project management has not yet become an explicit and widely used approach in the practice of project implementation. One of the concepts mentioned as an important element is project strategy; however, no universal framework or even a clear definition of what project strategy is has so far emerged. The goal of this article is to fill in this gap and provide a useful definition and a framework for the further study and implementation of the project strategy concept. Specifically, to achieve this goal, we first look at the origins of strategy in military and business research to discuss the question of what, exactly, project strategy is; we follow this discussion with an explicit definition of a project strategy. We then outline a framework for building a dedicated project strategy document for an individual project, and show how this framework can guide the project planning and execution processes. Using a case study approach, which included an action research phase, we demonstrate how project teams can adopt the strategy concept in a natural way that would lead their project to better business results.
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The project management literature argues that most projects fail, and yet, paradoxically, increasing numbers of proposals for new initiatives attract funds. In order to resolve an apparent ‘investment‐in‐failure’ paradox, this paper questions the methodology used in the literature to judge project performance and to decide on funding new projects. Using results from a field study, the authors describe a project performance framework that both expands and extends traditional approaches. They argue that the conventional test of project performance is not only fundamentally flawed, but also irrelevant to decision‐makers. In response, drawing on ‘principal–agent’, ‘regret’ and ‘contingency’ theories, the authors propose a new methodology to assess projects based on the concept of ‘worth’. According to this approach, performance is judged at three separate levels: project management, project ownership and project investment. These three tests allow distinct judgements to be made about the respective performances of the project manager, the project owner and the investment represented by the original funding decision. To the extent that financial crises are associated with project failure, such a framework may prove useful, because it would support better investment decision‐making.
Chapter
Introduction Value over the Years Values and Leadership Combining Success and Value Recognizing the Need for Value Metrics The Need for Effective Measurement Techniques Customer/Stakeholder Impact on Value Metrics Customer Value Management (CVM) The Relationship between Project Management and Value Background to Metrics Selecting the Right Metrics The Failure of Traditional Metrics and KPIS The Need for Value Metrics Creating a Value Metric Industry Examples of Value Metrics Use of Crisis Dashboards for Out-of-Range Value Attributes Establishing a Metrics Management Program Using Value Metrics for Forecasting Metrics and Job Decriptions Graphical Representation of Metrics