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Investing for New Zealand: Insights from 2015/16

Case Study: Benefits Management Framework, Ministry of Defence/New Zealand Defence Force

The New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence (Defence) play a critical role in ensuring the security of New Zealand, its citizens, and wider national interests. To achieve these outcomes investment in new and refreshed capabilities is needed.

Defence delivers a wide range of significant projects, from replacements of major military platforms, introduction of sophisticated corporate and military information technologies and investments in estate infrastructure.

For Defence to be able to deliver and demonstrate the value of these significant investments, it was essential to be able to describe how Defence will consistently design, manage and deliver benefits.

In 2015 Defence commenced implementation of a new Benefits Management Framework (BMF). The BMF is largely a suite of integrated processes aimed at ensuring benefits expected from Defence investments are agreed, understood, and ultimately realised.

The implementation to date has involved changes to systems, processes and culture. The changes are impacting multiple areas of the organisation including executive leaders, project teams and business users.

Governance boards, project teams and business units throughout Defence now have a common framework to follow. The BMF has standardised previously ad-hoc practices to deliver a more consistent set of benefits planning documents, supported by realistic and meaningful measures.

It has made it easier to define, monitor and manage benefits and deliver consolidated information to support executive decision making. The BMF is being progressively applied to all significant Defence projects, including the current fifteen Treasury Monitored projects.

Implementing the new framework

The BMF was designed in 2014, based on best practice, existing internal processes, stakeholder feedback, and lessons learned from other organisations. It was approved in December 2014 for implementation across the Defence Force.

In 2015, the BMF was piloted, refined, and tailored to confirm its suitability, before being rolled out to all small/medium scale military capability projects and piloted for large scale projects. In January 2016, Defence commenced roll-out to all large scale projects.

Expected benefits

  • Improved confidence and assurance that benefits are being effectively managed through adoption rates, quality of plans, and increased maturity scores.
  • Increased levels of benefits realisation, delivering over 80% of planned benefits.
  • Improved reputation for effective benefits management.

Challenges

The main challenge identified as a risk to the successful implementation of the BMF has been user adoption of the new processes. If user adoption is limited, the benefits of the BMF will not be realised. In order to mitigate this risk, activities were undertaken on a number of fronts including; gaining Chief Executive mandate, the development of simple integrated processes, placing emphasis on benefit ownership by business owners, ensuring adequate support resources were in place, leveraging technology to enable information collation, regularly engaging stakeholders and users, and securing ongoing leadership buy-in and support through portfolio level reporting to relevant governance groups.

Top Tips
Ensure the processes are fit for purpose The BMF should be evaluated during design and implementation to ensure it is simple, well integrated with existing business practices, and fit for purpose. Continue to consider enhancements based on user feedback and lessons learned.
Ensure benefits are owned by the business Ensure project benefit plans are signed off by the business units receiving the benefits. This will help improve quality of measures and ensure the benefits will continue to be managed and reported post project closure.
Ensure transition is adequately resourced Provide additional resources to help users adopt the new processes, create examples for others to follow, and work through or make clear decisions on how to deal with projects already in "in-flight".
Utilise relevant technology to support the process The Defence Planview system was configured to support the process and capture benefits planning information. This allows projects to generate reports with greater ease and enables effective coordination/oversight from the centre, including portfolio level reporting to governance groups.
Invest in change Governance boards, the Programme Management Office, and project teams are regularly engaged to ensure benefits management practices are supported, owned, and can be accommodated into existing processes.
Foster a benefits culture Governance boards are provided with a quarterly benefits dashboard to highlight progress, successes, and areas where assistance is required. Tailored guidelines are also provided to support understanding and foster a culture where benefits take a more central role in decision making.
Recognise some projects may need to revise their scope, schedules, and/or funding levels Adoption of the BMF places greater focus on project schedules and budgets to ensure they meet benefit realisation timelines. Adjustment may be necessary to address areas of risk.
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