Benefits Realisation Management (BRM)
Benefits Realisation Management or BRM, is a method used in management to define and measure the value that a project, program or portfolio management will bring into a company.
The BRM is based on identify and work with the benefits of a determinate project, program or portfolio.
Although the method and its techniques can be used either for a project, program or a portfolio, this article will cover the BRM related to a program.
This article will also discuss the relation between the method and the success of a determinate program.
The benefits realisation management purpose is to identify the benefits that the organisation is going to acquire. Moreover, the BRM aligns the benefits with the interest and the vision statement of the company and it, also, strongly increases the possibility that they will be gained. Indeed, one of the key point of the benefits realisation management is not only to define the benefits, but as well to decrease the possible risks related to these benefits.
The BRM method can be decomposed in three different steps : identify benefits, execute benefits and sustain benefits.
Firstly, it is important to understand whether a project, program or portfolio management will add value to the company. Secondly, the addition of new benefits and the decrease of risk in the existing one. Finally, during the sustainment process, the manager ensures whatever the project or program produces will keep adding value to the company beyond the end of the program.
These three aspects of the method and their techniques will be deeply discussed in detail further on the article.
Even though using the benefit realisation management brings to the company many advantages, it also has some limitations which will be introduce and analysed.
Introduction to Benefits
The term benefits refers to all the outcomes of a program which increase or add value to the organisation or the stakeholders.
“Benefits are measurable and quantifiable improvements, which are normally expressed in financial terms, so they can justify any investment that may be required from the business”. 
Different kinds of benefits may be generated by a program, and even if they have all positive effects they may require different kind of approaches. Indeed, although some of the benefits are certain or are related to a specific condition or achievement, others may be difficult to predict or highly uncertain. Furthermore, the benefits may be either quantifiable or not. Indeed, if they are not financial benefits, the measurement of them may be difficult. To give an example the increase of employee satisfaction with a program is not as quantifiable and predictable as the achievement of a precise quote on the market.
Besides, the three Es is another possible classification for the benefits, which allows to cover, organise and manage the majority of them. The three categories are:
- ECONOMIC BENEFITS: all the positive benefits related with the financial aspect and the cashflow.
- EFFECTIVENESS BENEFITS: Improvement on the standard
- EFFICIENCY BENEFITS: Improvement on the allocation of resources. 
Moving forward to the characteristics of benefits, they often have a defined beneficiar and it may be either the company, the stakeholders or even the customers. By the way, even though the direct beneficiar is not the organisation, the latter may also gain value from delivery benefits to others. In fact, an improved or a new ability of constantly deliver and sustain the product can benefit the organisation. 
On the other hand, if the defined beneficiaries of a program do not realise the advantage of an outcome, it could have negative impact on the sponsor of the program. Some stakeholders may see the benefit as a negative outcome for them (dis-benefit). Consequently, is important to minimise this risk by communicating the benefits and aligning them with the interest of the beneficiaries. Every stakeholders must be aware of the positive outcomes of a program and how the benefits contribute achieving the main company’s objectives. 
The benefits of a program do not have a specific period. Indeed, they may be delivered during the development of the program by one of its activities. For instance a project within the program may end and produce a positive outcome for the company, even if the program is not completed. Besides, they may be provide when the program finishes or, furthermore, they can be showed after the closure of it.
The value gap, between the real situation of the company and the future desired one, may be filled with all the benefits provided by all the successful programs. 
Relation between benefits and success of a program
In the last 20 years most of the companies (60%-80% according to a study conducted in 2008 by Kaplan and Norton) failing to deliver the expected outcomes of their projects, consequently even the business strategies come to nothing.  Decide whether a program is successful or not can create some ambiguity. Indeed, most of the time it depends on the criteria that are chosen to evaluate it. As a matter of fact even though a program ends within the expected budget and perfectly in time, it may be a failure in terms of additional value acquired by the company. On the contrary, it could happen that the outcomes provided by a program outweigh the failure in terms of cost and timing. As a matter of fact, is not sufficient that the outcomes are positive if they are not aligned with the interests of the company. In order to increase the value of the company a program should generate benefits that help the company in achieving its main objectives, in order to aim for both the success of the program and the company.  To give an example a t-shirts company, that would like to compete on the sport sector, may be able to produce them in time and budget and sell all of them, but on another market. Still all these positive aspects do not add the aimed value to the company nor move it towards its objective.
In short, the success of a program is achieved when the gained benefits are aligned with how an organisation would like to improve. Consequently, the Benefits realisation management may be fundamental for the purpose of a successful program and achievement of the business strategies. 
What is BMR and why is it important?
The Benefits realisation management consists in a series of processes which aim to ensure either a program outcomes will increase the value of the the company. Moreover, this method measure this value and manage, during the development of the program, the risks related to it.  The BMR plays a critical role in program management. In fact, it allows the manager to understand whether the impact, the program will have on the organisation, will be positive or not. Furthermore, this method helps the program manager to recognise and realise the amount of resources and effort, which will be implied in the program, necessary to deliver the identified benefits.
As just mentioned before, the BRM Framework consist in three step that will be further deeply explained. First of all, the manager will establish whether a program can produce value to the organisation. In order to do so the identification of the possible benefits of the program is necessary. Indeed, a project could have benefits that are not aligned with the vision statement of the company or with the will of the stakeholders, consequently it would move the organisation towards an undesired direction. For this reason, is important, during the planning, deeply understand if the program can decrease the value gap between the current position and the desired one. Otherwise, the positive outcomes are not necessary for the organisation and they do not justify the implementation of the resources in the program. In fact, all the benefits should be understood as a result, due to the fact they are the main reason a program starts. 
Secondly, this method point to achieve the minimum risk possible for each of the existing benefits. Indeed, most of them may be compromised during the development of the projects within the program, therefore is enormously important keep monitoring and managing the benefits even when the program has started. The intermediate benefits, that the projects, within the program, may deliver, are as important as the final ones. Indeed, the achievement of those benefits will increase the commitment and the focus on the program. Besides, seeing the deliveries of these benefits, the stakeholders will be more supportive. 
Most of the time benefits are dynamic, hence monitor them may decrease the risk related to their acquirement. Besides, a risk structure of the benefits should be created in agreement with the risk appetite of the company. Further more, the benefits realisation management has the purpose to increase the possibility to gain new benefits. Indeed, during the development of the project new possible benefits could arise and more value may be added by them inclusion.
Finally, is important that whatever will be the outcome of the program, it will be adding value to the organisation and the stakeholders, even though the program has ended. One of the goals of the BRM is to ensure that the whoever is going to manage the program outcomes will be able to maintain the positive impacts on the business.
These three different phases can be identified respectively as: Identify benefits, Execute benefits and sustain benefits. 
The Benefits realisation management allows the manager of a program to link the reasons of it with the impact that its delivery will have on the business.
The crucial reason to implement the BRM in a program is to move forward to the achievement of the business principal goals. In order to succeed in the business strategy the organisation has to execute a series of program successfully.  To identify what success looks like in a program the knowledge of business goals is necessary. Indeed, knowing the objectives of the organisation and the positive outcomes of the program, the decisions of how many resources use on it or whether it ought be prioritised or not, become easier.
The management of the benefits is a crucial aspect in the program management because, most of the time, benefits are the reason to justify the cost. In fact the positive outcomes of a program (benefits) are the main reason behind the investment. If one can ensure to have the benefits and, besides, these benefits are aligned with the goals of the company, consequently, the possibility that the program will be a success increase. 
Even in the change management the BMR has a critical role. Companies decide to change to obtain benefits. Hence, to implement, justify and support a change is of great significance to identify its benefits.. 
Since the resources of an organisation are not unlimited, the use of benefits realisation management improves the quality of the choices of an organisation. Indeed, if a company knows a program’s positive outcomes are not oriented with the vision statement, it will avoid the implementation of resources in a wrong direction. As a consequence of this, both the misuse of resources decrees and the right path of success is reinforced.
Shortly, the BRM maximises the effectiveness of a company.
Benefits Realisation Management Framework
As introduced in the previous chapter the Benefits Realisation Management includes three main phases through which it is possible to identify, manage and ensure the benefits of a program. Each of these stages may also implement the use of practices and techniques which will be briefly described.
The purpose of this first step, previously outlined, is to comprehend if the benefits of a program are aligned with the business plan of the company, in order to bring value to it. Besides, a diligent analysis, of the individualised benefits, will improve their further managing. In order to pursue the right benefits a deeply understanding of the business case of the organisation is necessary. 
As just mentioned before, the benefits should be identified and qualified through a process of analysation using all the available informations about the program.
As more informations arise, it is also important define the possible positive and negative risk related to the identified benefits. To give examples of these risks, they may be the disagreement from the stakeholders, unexpected outcomes or change in program activities.
In the Identify Benefit phase of the Benefits realisation management the key performance indicators (KPIs) should be pointed out. Those are indicators which will help the manager of the program to follow the actual state of delivery of the benefits during the developing of the program. They will, also, allow him to compare these result with the planned ones. Besides, the decisions of the future monitoring and controlling processes should be developed in this stage.
Furthermore, it is important to classify this benefits in terms of time and life span. For this reason, the timing and the dependencies of each benefit should also be identified and communicate. Indeed, this practice will help the monitoring part to understand whether a benefit will be on time and what could be the problems that affect it.
Different tools can be used to quantify, plan and give a profile to these benefits such as: benefits register, benefits map or a benefit profile.
- BENEFITS REGISTER:
The Benefit register is a document which includes and lists all the benefits of a program. Its scope is to measure and share, during the development of the program, the delivery of those benefits. The benefits register ought be update during the benefits analysis and planning. In fact, a first development of this document is written during the identification of benefits, then an update version is create in collaboration with the stakeholders. It is fundamental, in this update, to determine the key performance indicators that will be used to monitor the benefits performances during the program development.  
- BENEFITS MAP:
The benefits map is a visual representation which relates the benefits with all the surrounding elements which have a cause-effect relation with them. The interdependency among the benefits and any element which can affect their delivery should be shown on the map. Indeed, even though some outcomes failure may be negligible for the success of the program, they may strongly affect the benefit realisation. 
- BENEFIT PROFILE:
The benefit profile is a description of the benefit and its main characteristics. Informations such as what is the benefit, who is the beneficiar, the timing and the criteria to measure it, are written in this document. It helps in the analysis and planning of the benefits. Moreover, it becomes a part of the previously introduced Benefit register. Furthermore 
It is critical that the stakeholders or the sponsor of the program approve the benefits that arise from those studies. Besides, the communication plan of these benefits future progress is also established in this stage. A deep analysis of the stakeholders power and their idea about the benefits should be developed. The benefits distribution of the stakeholders matrix may help with this task.  
Once all the benefits will be identified and classified, the attention will move to understand if these positive outcomes of the program are aligned with the vision statement or the business goals of the company.
In the "Execute Benefits" part of the methods the manager will guarantee the minimum risk for each previously outlined benefit and, in addition, he will focus on the discovery of possible new benefits that may be gained. 
One of the first step, on this stage of the Benefits Realisation Management, is to confirm that the stakeholders have deeply comprehended the positive outcomes of the program and how this benefits are going to affect in a positive way the business. This ensures that when the benefits will have been delivered they will see them as a gained value. Moreover, the stakeholders must be informed about the progresses and deliveries of these benefits. It is critical that the stakeholders will act in harmony with the benefits of the program, therefore they should be aware, also, of the dependencies related to these outcomes.  
Besides, the team, that is working with the program, should deeply understand the importance and the impact of these benefits on the business of the company. In fact, they are the most involved people with the program deliveries and changes.
The process between the benefits analysis and planning and their delivery is not a linear process. Indeed it is most of the time an iterative process, in which corrective action are continuously necessary as the planned conditions change. This informations about the environment come from the continuous monitoring of the organisation. The progresses of the benefits have to be continuously reviewed to realise if some change, in the program activities, may be needed, in order to move the actual positive outcomes closer to the expected one. These progresses can be monitored using the previously defined measures and key indicators. During all the duration of the program is critical that benefits will be continuously reviewed to better reflect the ongoing business objectives. This will avoid that benefits, identified before a program beginning, will be no longer an adding value for the company at the moment of the delivery.  In fact, it is possible that with the development of the project the business goals of the organisation may change. For this reason is critical monitoring and controlling whether a formerly identified positive outcome is still adding value to the company.
The manager should realise, through the risks and KPIs related to other part of the programs (such as financial, safety…) , whether these affect or not the benefits delivery. On the contrary, the impact, that the benefits’ delivery may have on the program or on the company, should be implemented in the general issues and risk management.
It is also fundamental seeking the opportunity for new benefits to be implemented in the program benefits list as the program advance or a change occur. Indeed during the program evolution new opportunity may arise and is important to be proactive and ready to gain a positive outcome.
The last part of the Benefits Realisation Management ensures, regardless of which is the program outcome, it will still be adding value to the organisation, even beyond the program end. In point of fact is necessary, even when a program is closed, its positive outcomes are sustained and managed to keep their principal function. 
First of all, the benefits sustainment ought be considered prior the end of the program. Most of the organisations with a great experience in BRM use to define a plan of sustainment in the beginning part of a program. In fact, even though this plan regards a period of time which is outside the one of the program life cycle, the program manager has the responsibility to create the above.
More specifically, a benefits sustainment plan should be created before the end of the program, and it should include all the risks, the measures and the tools to guarantee that the delivered benefits will be continuing generating value. The importance of a quality sustainment plan lies on the fact that after an end of a program the management of the benefits pass to other people. Consequently, the clearer and competently developed the plan is, the better the new organisation will manage those benefits. 
Moreover, once the program finishes is critical to effettuate a post-program evaluation. Indeed this practice can give important and useful informations for the future. Firstly, is important to comprehend wether the benefits have been greatly update and optimised with the stakeholders and efficiently delivered. Secondly, the lessons that the team group or the manager have learned during the program development should be really understood and shared. Indeed, the only way to avoid the same errors in the future programs benefits realisation management, is that the lessons are deeply comprehended by all the interested people. 
Furthermore, the new benefits gained during the execution phase, the ones that were not planned, have to be collected and comprehended by all the involved people.
In some case, beyond the program, new benefits for the future may be identified. If it occurs they would have to become a part of the future positive outcomes of the organisation.
Some of the activities that may help the sustainment of the benefits are:
- Implementing the right changes to make sure, even though the resources used for the program will be back to the organisation, the positive outcomes performance will be monitored.
- Monitoring the risk defined in the sustainment plan for the delivered benefits and implement the right changes if needed. 
Limitations of Benefits Realisation Management
It is now more clear what is the benefits realisation management, why it is important and how to best perform it. However, sometimes its application could be more difficult and complicated in comparison to how it appears. The main limitations of this method are related to:
BENEFITS: As just was previously mentioned, the benefits are sometimes uncertain and unquantifiable. Besides, they may be interdependent with many others internal and external elements. If the program contains many of those, working with the benefits realisation management could be really laborious and complicated. However, an accurate analysis of those benefits, still will help the organisation in the program success better than if the benefits realisation management would have not been done. 
STAKEHOLDERS: An other possible limitation that may be arise during the use of this method is a discrepancy between the stakeholders visions. Indeed benefits may have different impact on different stakeholders, hence some of theme may not shared the positive effect of an outcome and consider them as a dis-benefits. In this occasion this stakeholders will try to oppone themselves to the program to avoid it impact them negatively. If these benefits will arrive at unacceptable level for those stakeholders, they could be a threaten for the program itself. It is critical to find a way to reduce the impact of this dis-benefits, in order to decrease the risk of failure of the program. 
In short Benefits Realisation Management requires experience and practice, but a correct use of it can really make the difference in the success of a program.
Project Management Institute - The standard for program management (2017)
Chapter 4- This chapter “Program Benefits Management” briefly introduce the concept of benefits and their importance. Further, it analyse the main activities conducted during a benefits management operation. Some of the techniques introduced in this article are deeper explained and analysed in this chapter.
Carlos Eduardo Martin Serra-Benefits realisation management (2016)
Chapter 1- Introduce the concept of benefits realisation management and present an overview on why it is a powerful instrument for a program success. Moreover, in this book are presented many case studies to better comprehend how the benefits are managed in real programs.
Project Management Institute - Benefits realization management framework (2016)
These slides present an overview of the method that was discussed in this article. They were used as a guide line for the structure of the method.
PMI - Benefits Realization Management: practical guide (2019)
This book was mainly used to clarify some of the concept that need a deep understanding. In particular this book was used to understand the tools used in benefits realisation management and theirs template. Further, the book explain the BRM and outlined the different use among project, program and portfolio management.
Axelos- Managing Successful Programmes (2011)
Chapter 7- "Benefits Management”, this chapter introduce the management of the benefits and outlined the main approach and phase in dealing with them. In this chapter were analysed and deeply comprehended the Identify, Execute and Sustain phases. The chapter offers more detailed approach of this three part and the techniques previously introduced.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 PMI Benefits realization management Framework (2016)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Serra C. E. M. Benefits realization management (2016)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 PMI The Standard for Program Management, Pennsylvania (2017)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Axelos Managing Successful Programmes (2011)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 PMI Benefit Realization Management Practice Guide (2019). Available from https://www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-standards/practice-guides/benefits-realization
- ↑ John Hayes - The Theory and Practice of Change Management-Palgrave (2014)
- ↑ PMI Sustain benefits to optimize business value (2016). Available from https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/sustain-project-benefits-optimize-value.pdf