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Project Manager : Project Manager Feb Mar 2014
18 Project Manager •COVER STORY " e project manager is left in the unenviable position of trying to deliver on the business case or resetting stakeholder expectations," he says. Who's to blame? Bryant agrees with the Ombudsman's obser vations that bene ts calculation, especially within the IT sector, can be seriously awed. He places some of the blame on business analysts, who make up the majority of business case authors. Business analysts can str uggle to understand the practicalities of implementing projects. "I think there is also a knowledge gap at the board and executive management level," Bryant explains. "While most certi ed project managers understand the need to quantify bene ts, the problem occurs when the project sponsor and senior management don't appreciate the need to manage bene ts." He adds that project managers should therefore demand a seat at the table when the business case is being formulated. AIPM National Director and Senior Consultant at project management rm MetaPM Gary Yorke agrees there are certainly advantages to inviting a project manager to help develop a business case; however, they must leave the estimation of bene ts to the experts. "Bene ts need to be de ned by the nance people; project managers can be involved but I just don't think they have the skills to do it," he says, adding that the project manager's role is to sound the alarm as soon as he or she believes that bene ts won't be realised. is doesn't mean project managers needn't bother trying to understand how bene ts are calculated. A basic knowledge of how to identify and manage bene ts can be enormously useful to project managers who are delivering the outcomes and capabilities needed to realise bene ts, Yorke says. is knowledge can also help project managers spot bene ts fraud and make a compelling case to senior management to adjust the course of a project. Knowledge gap Most organisations that commit bene ts fraud don't set out to engage in fraudulent conduct. "Bene ts fraud is typically a case of ' leaping before looking', rather than outright villainy," says AIPM National Director and Principal at UXC Consulting Ian Sharpe. Sharpe's view is supported by research that shows 65 per cent of European organisations were not satis ed with their ability to identify all available bene ts, with 69 per cent reporting that they do not adequately quantify and place 'value' on bene ts for inclusion in the business case. Sharpe says these gures are low in comparison to global trends, which suggest more than 86 per cent of bene ts are simply being w ritten o as 'unachievable'. "Regardless of location, these failure rates clearly point to organisational failures of governance and proper quanti cation of business cases," he adds. A more concer ning nding of the research, which is contained in a report titled Building Better Business Cases for IT Investments, is that 38 per cent of European organisations believe their current approach led them to frequently overstate bene ts to obtain funding. But Sharpe expects this gure to decline. He says that a growing number of organisations are scrutinising their approach to bene ts calculation after being " burned by wildly optimistic business cases". " ere's no better teacher than a history of bur ning cash and people to make you pay attention to funding the right project at the right time," he says. "[Organisations] are now taking a sharp look at what's really involved, on the costs and bene ts side." European organisations may be learning from past mistakes, which have been the subject of intense scrutiny in the wake of the global nancial crisis; there are still, however, various factors that can lead an organisation to commit bene ts fraud. Political or divisional agendas, for ex ample, can tempt an organisation to overstate the ( PROBLEMS OCCUR WHEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT DOESN'T APPRECIATE THE NEED TO MANAGE BENEFITS
Project Manager Dec Jan 2014
Project Manager Apr May 2014