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Continuous Improvement blog Evidencing the benefits of a project from the start

Best practice

Following the launch of the Guide to Evidencing the Benefits of Business Process Improvement in July 2015, I am eager to continue to share best practice across the sector as to how this can be seamlessly integrated into existing business improvement project approaches.

I recently facilitated a Benefits Scoping Workshop for our Timetabling Process Improvement Project. The Project Team working on this project includes representation from the central Timetabling and Space Management teams, as well as academics and administrators from all four Faculties who are responsible for Timetabling activities in their departments.

I introduced the Benefits Exploration Map using another BIT project to provide real examples of the types of benefits that can be identified right from the beginning of a project. I also thought the examples might help the participants structure their thinking: benefits are not project objectives, benefits capture the anticipated positive impact achieved by the delivery of the project work.

Strategic benefits

To start with, we discussed the Strategic benefits as a group, and linked these to the Timetabling Project. As a result, the Team identified that eight of the sixteen Key Performance Indicators outlined in the University’s Strategic Plan were relevant. There was great value in this exercise as the Project Team discovered for themselves how the project contributes to the University’s high level goals and this establishes the importance of the project in everyone’s minds.

Next the group worked in pairs to consider the Behavioural, Stakeholder, and Measurable benefits. Each pair shared their views with the wider group, adding additional benefits as the discussion went on. What was interesting was how the list of Measurable benefits increased when the team considered if some of the  benefits captured under the other sections could be measured. For example, improved student satisfaction was identified as a clear strategic benefit and stakeholder benefit, then this could be measured via the annual scores in the timetabling questions within the National Student Survey (NSS). Therefore, improved NSS scores was added as a Measurable benefit.

The final activity was introducing the Measurable Benefits Data Plan. This tool drives the data capture required to evidence the benefits. To illustrate the Data Plan, we discussed a Measurable benefit which was relevant to all of the Project Team; staff capacity savings. In the coming weeks each team member will provide a sample of the time it takes to complete their process steps. This will be used to calculate a baseline of the average processing time for each group of staff involved in the process. Introducing the Measurable Benefits Data Plan in this way communicated the collective responsibility to capture data up front and demonstrated the value of being transparent, open and collaborative in the gathering of baseline data.

I hope my example above demonstrates the impact this type of workshop can have to not only your projects, but to generating engagement towards evidencing and communicating the benefits of the work that you do.

For more information on how to enhance the evidencing of benefits and gathering of baseline data, please see our Guide.