Gartner Research

Show Me the Money: Advanced Practices in Benefits Realization

Published: 01 December 2005

ID: G00137019

Analyst(s): Dave Aron , Chuck Tucker, Richard Hunter


The benefits realization life cycle has three phases. Advanced practices in each phase lead to increased business benefits, higher IS credibility and improved learning that can be applied to subsequent projects. The benefits life cycle is the one the business focuses on. Broadening the focus from the systems development life cycle is necessary to enhance the IS contribution. Benefits-focused planning ensures that the portfolio is maximized in terms of benefits potential, and that later development and change management will be focused on those benefits. To ensure that benefits are delivered, IS must help the business get ready for change and address issues that arise from a benefits perspective. Rather than bowing out when the execution phase is complete, IS must engage in the harvesting phase to increase benefits.

Table Of Contents


Executive summary

  • Many aspects of benefits realization lie outside IS
  • Section 1: Benefits realization is an end-to-end discipline
  • Section 2: Planning practices lay the foundation
  • Section 3: Execution practices get the business ready
  • Section 4: Harvesting practices ensure that expected benefits are reaped
  • Section 5: Evaluate and improve your benefits realization practices

Benefits realization is an end-to-end discipline

  • Benefits realization is a persistent business need of every enterprise
  • Shifting IT portfolios make the benefits realization challenge more pressing
  • Improving benefits realization goes hand in hand with closer business relationships
  • Benefits of IT-intensive initiatives are realized through three phases
  • Advanced practices deliver superior benefits realization

Planning practices lay the foundation

  • Use a benefits framework to define business benefits
  • Build results chains to identify all the activities needed
  • Integrate benefits into management processes
  • Synchronize all stakeholders around benefits commitments
  • Make benefits coaching a part of the governance team's role

Execution practices get the business ready

  • Support the business with change management capabilities
  • Use empowered problem-solving teams and methods
  • Adapt project governance in response to issues

Harvesting practices ensure that expected benefits are reaped

  • Manage the entire harvesting phase
  • Run benefits-focused post-implementation reviews
  • Evolve the project governance team into a harvesting steering group
  • Conduct an independent harvesting audit
  • Capture IS and business learning during the harvesting phase

Evaluate and improve your benefits realization practices

  • Benefits realization improvements have a triple payoff
  • Understand your benefits realization readiness
  • Evaluate your benefits realization risk
  • Take a benefits-focused approach to pre- and post-implementation reviews

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