How can we prove that the solution resulted in the expected benefits?

How can we prove that the solution resulted in the expected benefits?
Organizations often go into a project assuming that it will bring certain benefits, but neglect to measure the benefits after the fact. Recent trends in operational and expense management practices have inspired many organizations to be more diligent about measuring benefits, and verifying that projects deliver the expected results.

The only way to prove definitively that a project brought the expected benefits is with advance planning. Begin by documenting what the benefits are expected to be in the Requirements Measurement Plan . Next, take baseline measurements, so you'll have something to compare the results to. And be sure to specify who will measure what, and when. As the project proceeds, you'll want to keep the benefits clearly in mind, and update the expected benefits as changes occur. When the project is finished, you'll need to make objective measurements to prove the results.

There are various tools that will help you measure the benefits, such as gap analysis, cost benefit analysis, and process review. During the start-up and/or planning phases, take time to conduct one or more of these analyses to measure the "as-is" and "to-be" states. The "as-is" will be your baseline—the mark against which you will measure change. The "to-be" is your target—the mark against which you'll measure the success of the results.

As the business analyst, you need to determine which requirements will most directly impact the extent to which the benefits are realized. You can then "protect" these requirements by giving them the highest priority. You'll also want to be diligent in understanding how any changes will affect these benefits-impacting requirements. You'll be responsible for ensuring that the project team, including the sponsor and other key business stakeholders, are informed whenever the expected benefits change due to changes in the requirements.

Once the project is finished and the solution is implemented, go back and conduct the same type of analysis once again—this time as a "new state." Compare the "new state" against the baseline, to demonstrate improvement over the pre-project state. Then compare the "new state" to the target, to demonstrate how closely the project met the benefit goals.

For example, in a gaps analysis, you should find fewer gaps in the "new state" than in the baseline; thus, you should be able to show, using cost benefit analysis, how the costs of a given transaction or process were reduced, or the revenue from a given transaction increased. In process analysis, you'll be able to demonstrate that the "new" process is more efficient than the baseline (higher quality, fewer hand-offs, less redundancy, leveraging automation where it makes sense, etc.).

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