Communicating benefits

An important activity in Program Management is the setting, management and communication of benefits. It is not enough to carry out large-scale activities that lead to real improvements, if such improvements are understood only by a handful of top managers. A Program Manager must lobby for his Program and communicate its benefits, while making sure that all those affected by the program's results see its benefits as such. For example, when launching a new suite of products, although studies show that these products are required by the market, customers will not benefit from them if sellers were not trained and motivated to promote them. Similarly, if the organization does not provide visibility about sales growth after launching these new products, the team who worked on the program and those who were forced to make further efforts to adapt to change will not understand if their efforts mattered. Without this effort on training, communication, follow-up on training and support, the success of the program is seriously endangered, and also the organization's confidence in future initiatives may be undermined. An organization that does not believe in large-scale transformations becomes apathetic and will be quickly surprised by market movements or competition. So, before starting the program, set realistic goals for targeted change. Communicate these objectives (see chapter 12.4 Program Governance), check during the journey that they remain realistic and truly perform the work required on communication. Program Managers use the following techniques for managing and communicating the benefits, and you should make sure the designated Program Manager in your organization uses them:

Communication plan
This plan contains information about the benefits that must be communicated, and to whom. The audience is split in groups affected by the program (stakeholders) based on individual interests. Who needs that information, when (how often), and which is the most effective communication form?

Benefits Register
Similar to the concept of risk register and open problems in Project Management, the Program Management has a Benefits Registry, which lists all the benefits provided, how to touch, how to measure them, the frequency of monitoring and responsible roles in achieving benefits.

Training Plan
To ensure that all concerned benefit from improvements brought by the program, a training strategy is required. Usually, in extensive changes, training is done in several iterations, checking at each iteration the readiness of the employees. For example, in a information system implementation, the users are trained during an intensive program and then they are verify with a test a few days before the entry into production, then the entry into production, users working in the new system in the workshops, together the implementation team.

Transition Plan
Similar to the transition plan in project management, which is the hand-over of complete deliverables to their use in production, in the case of Program Management it is necessary to establish responsibility for maintaining benefits after the program is complete and operational. For example, when implementing an ERP system, before launching it, a support team should be established and a support line communicated, where users can call to request additional information. It is also important to establish a method to promote the new system and nominate champions that will gather additional requirements arising from the use of the system in production.

Support Plan
The inherent difficulties in using the results of a program can be planned and managed through a support plan. This plan should contain information about the location of the new manuals and procedures, who can give information about new procedures, and a way to frequently collect and disseminate the most common issues with how to resolve them.

Managing Benefits Process

Figure above presents the process of benefits management and how the above techniques can be used in the process. The process begins with the formalization and analysis of the benefits. The program was born as a result of targeted benefits, so this step is just to make sure they are formally stated. During analysis, the benefits are prioritized and methods of measurement are established. The Program Manager needs to plan how they will be implemented, monitored and progress communicated. As the objectives are achieved, information is communicated to those interested. At the end of the program, benefits are handed over to operations.

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