Newcastle University Business School

News Item

New Business School project could help to influence project management community

Dr Rebecca Casey, Lecturer in Newcastle University Business School, is to be seconded to the Association for Project Management (APM) to lead on a project to inform and develop the adoption of benefit realisation management amongst the project management community. Dr Casey will be seconded for twenty days to work with the Association for Project Management, the UK’s chartered body for the project profession.

The project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC) Innovation Fellowship Scheme, aims to produce knowledge which informs and develops the adoption of organisational benefit realisation management amongst the project management community. This builds on Dr Casey’s existing research and relationship with the Association for Project Management (APM) as a committee member of the Benefits Management Specific Interest Group.

Evidence published in October 2017 by The Economist Intelligence Unit in collaboration with the Project Management Institute reveals a positive association between organisations which identify benefits management as their highest strategic priority and successful project outcomes. However, few organsiations fall into this category. Thus, it is important we learn more about how to increase the number of organisations which emphasise the same strategic priority for benefits management.  In its 2017 Industrial Strategy, the UK government sets out the importance of developing skills, transforming business practices and creating the right institutions and structures to support these capabilities. This research directly contributes to achieving these goals plus the APM’s strategic objectives of advancing knowledge and research, organisational innovation and membership growth.

Neil White, Chair of APM Benefits Management Specific Interest Group said: "We know that the project delivery community has been slow to adopt the benefits management discipline despite years of publications, recommendations, and documented good practice. This research, linked to the Government Industrial strategy, will enable APM to engage members in new and exciting ways, gain insight into why take-up remains poor and share what we learn for the benefit of the wider project community. We are delighted that Rebecca will be leading this study and, as a SIG, look forward to supporting her and helping to ensure a positive outcome.”

About the research

In 2016, UK organisations wasted the equivalent of £128 million for every £1 billion invested in projects and programs (source: PMI Pulse of the Profession Survey, 2017). The UK Government’s Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) alone is delivering 143 projects worth over £455 billion. Such significant sums of money represent a challenge for organisations, the project professionals tasked with the successful delivery of projects and the APM which is responsible for developing and promoting the profession.

Adopting benefits management is increasingly seen as a way of delivering sustainable value from projects. Existing academic research suggests the existence of benefits management capability in organisations is patchy. However, the scope of these studies is either limited to a particular sector e.g. finance, healthcare, construction or they evaluate whether benefits management exists or not with little investigation into the quality of practices. The aim of this research is therefore to produce knowledge which informs and develops the quality of adoption processes.

The first stage of the research will collect qualitative data from APM members between December 2017 and March 2018. The output of this first phase will inform the design of a high-quality survey to be administered in the spring/summer of 2018.

This study focusses on APM members and intends to draw insight at an aggregate level on i) the current overall level of adoption and quality of benefits management, ii) identify gaps and barriers to adoption in order to iii) inform the development and uptake of professional benefits management knowledge, training and accreditation which will iv) ultimately affect behaviour in organisations to help with the translation of benefits management into everyday practice.

Take part in the research

Dr Casey, who is leading the project, is keen to talk to anyone who has ideas about how to develop and distribute the survey. We want to know whether there are specific aspects of benefits management we should focus on, who should we talk to and how should we reach out to relevant people. Participation is completely anonymous, confidential and complies with ESRC’s strict ethical guidelines. If you would like to participate or share your views then please contact Dr Rebecca Casey at rebecca.casey@ncl.ac.uk.

As well has having the opportunity to participate in high profile cross-institutional research and shape the survey instrument, the other main benefits are the insight generated as a result of your input, which will ultimately advance benefits management knowledge and practice.

Dr Rebecca Casey
Dr Rebecca Casey

published on: 1 December 2017