soft and hard benefits
Business Benefits is what really makes a piece of a product stand out in terms of its competitors or similar products. However, it doesn’t only define but encompasses the end-user experience. After all, in order for your product to work, it should be able to work as intended. And if this happens then you have achieved your goal – a sale! Business benefits then, refers to what the customer will get out of the product’s features.
There are two main categories of business benefits and they are soft and hard benefits. A soft benefit is one that a person can enjoy on an everyday basis. For instance a soft benefit would be a decrease in cost. On the other hand hard benefits are those that require a process to be completely established. Examples of hard benefits would be a reduction in cost of purchasing the item or a reduction in the amount of time required to construct the same.
focus on soft and hard benefits
Business owners need to realise the importance of incorporating both soft and hard into their business benefits management plan. One way of doing this is through defining a clear difference between the two. It is not enough for the owner to say that the business benefits management program will focus on soft and hard benefits. The project benefits management software needs to clearly illustrate how each category of benefit could be realised. Here are some examples of where this differentiation could be made.
When working on an operational change the focus should always be on creating the least number of possible outcomes. So for instance the project management software would first record the inputs required and the outcomes that could arise. Once the inputs and the outcomes have been recorded, it is important to document the costs that would be associated with them. The last thing you want to do is to document everything that is required but then do not implement any of the outcomes because the documentation is not considered as being relevant.
achieving unrealistic targets
Project outcomes should be considered in the context of the whole benefits chain and not just on their own. In other words, the value of an outcome should not be judged solely on its monetary value. Also, there should not be a trend towards decreasing returns to work on the basis that this would translate into a high level of project risk and therefore poor returns. Instead, the emphasis should be placed on maintaining a solid and consistent risk and return profile throughout the project. The outcome should therefore be more about realization of agreed outcomes and less about achieving unrealistic targets or spending far too much on activities that will not make a significant difference to the bottom line.
Most importantly, when you look at the soft realization value of the result of your project, you should show this in the execution of the strategy. If the business case does not support this, then you should question whether the focus on achieving the objectives is appropriate. This may mean looking at ways to quantify the impact of the strategy on staff and customer satisfaction and the like. It also means asking for the business case to be re-evaluated to show that the assumption made was justified in the first instance.