Benefits Management vs Requirements Management

Benefits vs Requirements - thoughts...

We are starting to see the introduction of Benefits being managed by Project Managers in project life. We thought it might be helpful to discuss the similarities and differences between the two, and how they can co-exist.
When a Project Sponsor is arranging for a User Requirements Specification (URS) to be prepared defining what the Users of a system require, she can also harvest from the wider Business the Benefits they expect to see from the Project.
Many of these Benefits will have been described in collateral supporting seed funding before the Project is launched - and these can be simply copied and pasted into a Benefits set. It make good sense to do this, as in proper System Engineering, validation should compare the final Product with what was desired at the outset - and comparing right back to pre-launch genuinely captures the original intent.
Other desired Benefits can be harvested by asking individuals who will use the Product, not by asking how they will use it (which often forms a User Story used to directly drive Functional Requirements) but more “fluffy” Benefits like how it will improve their productivity, or perhaps save money.

So are Benefits a sub-set of Requirements, or vice versa?
Some Benefits would be expected to drive non-Functional Requirements - for example saving cost expended in a particular process step could (arguably) fall into this category.
Other Benefits would drive Functional Requirements - one example could be being able to complete a process step within a specific timescale. Whilst this might not have been captured in a URS, it is clearly a Project Benefit.
Some Benefits would not be expected to drive any formal Requirements - for example, a Product improving Business Reputation within a market sector is not really measurable until long after Project Completion and therefore could never be subject to V&V within the lifecycle of a Project.
So the answer is: both. some Benefits are also Requirements, some are not.

We’ll write more on this soon.

Groves Systems Ltd
Making Project Management work for you...