Thoughts of a project manager about “Focusing on benefits realisation in an agile delivery model”

Views expressed in this article are my own.

In the project economy, projects are directly linked to benefits which are derived from the services, products or activities performed for solving any business problem.
The benefits form the very basis why a project is undertaken. For example, automating repetitive manual activities in a business process is not the ultimate objective in terms of benefits. Instead, increased efficiency, productivity gains, cost savings, higher accuracy along with economies of scale are the business drivers for automating a manual process and, hence, the criteria for project success. 
A light bulb in the middle of a process circle.
In the agile delivery approach, which is a change driven model where requirement or scope is not fixed, the criteria for the project success is not focused around scope, budget and schedule; but around delivering benefits and its realisation along with enhanced business agility, improved time to market and lowering total cost of ownership.

It is very important to understand the iterative cycle of benefits realisation through PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) method for maintaining the cadence of value delivery.
  • Plan stage helps in establishing the objectives to deliver the expected benefits in alignment and agreement with the customer. These benefits allow the prioritisation and funding for the outcome and impact-based deliveries in shorter iterations with continuous feedback loop. 
  • Do stage helps in converting the plan into implementation of manageable deliverables for the realisation of expected benefits.          
  • Check stage helps in empirical evaluation of data and results collected from the previous stage. This is the inspection stage which allows to compare expected outcomes with actuals to see if there are any deviations with the help of various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 
  • Adjust stage helps in adaptation from the earlier stage of inspection for improving the process. The benefits expected and realised are re-evaluated and baselines are revised to plan for the next cycle.    
This approach helps in continuously improving the outcomes through inspection and adaptation in each cycle. Focus on business value allows the benefits to be delivered in the value chain. A common example for evaluating the financial performance of a business firm is EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) which is considered a reliable indicator of a company's operational efficiency and financial soundness. Another example of financial health indicator of a company is “Working Capital”. It impacts the business value as changes in working capital impacts cash flow and valuation of a company.
In an agile delivery model, the business benefits realisation becomes pertinent; since the features to be delivered are prioritised in the product backlog based on the business value. Benefits are delivered faster in an Agile way of working as it embraces the following important aspects:
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - This allows obtaining a quick feedback on the minimum set of features delivered with least effort for learning purpose and testing the hypothesis. It helps in adjusting the development of remaining features accordingly. It also helps in stopping any work which is not expected to give any value to the customer and rather focus on high valued items first. 
  • Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) - This allows delivering value to the customer through fully functional feature by launching them quickly in the market. It is directly related to revenue and profitability. It could also help in increasing the market share, goodwill, and competitive differentiation. MMFs also help in planning the releases better as they focus on value delivery to the customer. 
  • Minimum Marketable Release (MMR) - It is the summation of all MMFs delivered as part of expected features developed in the minimum versions so that customer can realise the benefits by launching them to the market. 
  • Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) - This is the first MMR used for shortening the initial time to market.


I am of the opinion that benefits realisation forms a very important attribute in the complex and volatile environment to evaluate the performance empirically which ultimately brings business agility through delivering changes with adaptive mindset based on market trends and allows data-driven actionable decisions.

Both the sequential and iterative way of execution of projects will need to focus on delivering the benefits and not just the features as part of acceptance criteria and definition of done to validate the actual benefits.
About the author: Gaurav Dhooper is our Senior Official for Metropolitan area of Noida, India. Gaurav is a strategic thinker, a professional Agile and IT Delivery Leader, an author and a speaker. Gaurav writes articles on Digital Transformation, Agile Transformation, Agile Project Management and Scrum. He also publishes articles on Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Personal Agility in leading online publications. Gaurav has been reviewer for PMI’s Standard for Earned Value Management and for a book on Agile Contracts. He is also a webinar and keynote speaker in various global conferences and Reviewing Committee Member in PMO Global Awards 2020. Gaurav is also holding the honorary position of Digital Media Global Director at PMO Global Alliance

Keywords: Realization of added value, Added value, Tip

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.