Benefit Mapping: A Comprehensive Introduction
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
Why Benefit Mapping?
Why is this method pivotal in achieving your goals, whether in personal development or organisational growth?
- The Benefit Mapping Method asks the right questions at the right time to ensure initiative/project success.
- Benefit mapping is more than a strategic tool; it's a roadmap to success. It helps clarify objectives, ensuring that every step you take is aligned with your end goals.
- In a world brimming with options and distractions, benefit mapping keeps you focused on what truly matters, streamlining efforts and enhancing efficiency.
- Foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement. Benefit mapping brings teams together, working towards common objectives and learning from each journey.
- Benefit Mapping uses a easy-to-understand but very useful visualisation of the understanding created, see BBS Notation.
Join the many who have transformed their approach to planning and decision-making. Start your journey with benefit mapping today and pave the way for long-term success.
What is Benefit Mapping?
In today's ever-evolving business landscape, organisations are constantly looking for methods to help them achieve their strategic objectives. One such technique that has gained prominence is 'Benefit Mapping'. It provides a clear structure to visualise (via Benefit Breakdown Structure) and realise the potential advantages of various business changes. Let's delve deeper into what Benefit Mapping entails and how it hinges on Strategic Objectives, Benefits, Business Changes, and Enablers.
1. Strategic Objective: The North Star
In any organisation, a Strategic Objective is the ultimate goal or a set of goals the organisation strives to achieve. It represents the long-term vision of where the company wants to go with an initiative in terms of market position, profitability, customer satisfaction, or any other metric deemed crucial for its success. These objectives can be broad, like 'Becoming a market leader in the next five years' or specific, like 'Increasing online sales by 15% in the next financial year'.
Write these down. As so often, there is a superpower in making thoughts visible that would otherwise often end up as unspoken assumptions.
2. Benefits: The Milestones on the Journey
While a strategic objective sets the direction, how do we measure our progress along the way? That's where 'Benefits' come into play. Benefits are tangible or intangible positive outcomes (see previous articles) that accrue to an organisation due to specific business changes. They act as the signposts confirming that you're on the right path towards your strategic objective. For instance, an increase in customer retention rate, a rise in sales, or an enhancement in operational efficiency can all be classified as benefits.
Agreed(!) Benefits are, therefore, what should be discussed much more in a project. A benefit is agreed upon if you find a stakeholder that signs up for this particular benefit (I wrote more about this here). Benefits are the tangible frame for the next two layers: Business Changes and Enablers (see below). Think of the agreed benefits as the End and the Business Changes and Enablers as the Means to achieve project success.
Agreed benefits should be connected to the relevant objectives. Why would you aim at the benefits if you cannot connect them? Again, make assumptions visible and trigger discussions. It would be best if you achieved a shared understanding for all stakeholders.
3. Business Changes: The Path to Benefits
Now that we have set our sights on the strategic objective and understood the benefits, the question arises - how do we achieve these benefits? This is answered by implementing 'Business Changes'. These are modifications or transformations in the way an organisation operates. Business changes can be:
- Process-Oriented: Changes in operational procedures, like adopting a new sales strategy.
- People-Oriented: Changes affecting the workforce, such as training programs or organisational restructuring.
- Technology-Oriented: Implementation of new systems or tools.
Be specific about each business change. Each business change is expected to deliver one or multiple benefits which cumulatively contribute to achieving the strategic objective.
4. Enablers: The Tools to Facilitate Change
Change can only be realised with the right tools, be they physical, technological, or conceptual. 'Enablers' are factors that facilitate the implementation of business changes. For instance, a new software application can be an enabler for improving data analytics. Similarly, a change management workshop might be the enabler for smoothly transitioning to a new organisational structure.
If you want, and I highly encourage this, then break down the enablers to a level of detail that allows people to understand the project’s complexity. This means that enablers are dependent on other enablers. But don't try to model all the details upfront. The understanding of the initiative will change over time. But drill down for those enablers that the project is working on.
Mapping It All Together
Benefit Mapping is essentially about drawing connections:
- Linking Strategic Objectives to the Benefits that signify their achievement.
- Connecting Benefits to the Business Changes that will bring them about.
- Tying Business Changes to the Enablers that will make these changes feasible.
Be aware that the change initiative is typically only providing the enablers. The receiving organisation must act according to the business changes to achieve the benefits.
Using a tool like Vithanco, you can easily put it all together and draw a simple-to-understand diagram that reflects the shared understanding of the change initiative.
Organisations can gain a clear picture (pun intended!)) of the journey ahead by visually representing these connections in a Benefit Breakdown Structure. They can prioritise actions, allocate resources efficiently, and ensure that every step taken is in sync with the overarching strategic objective.
Benefit Mapping is not just about creating a visual diagram but understanding the intricate relationships between objectives, benefits, changes, and enablers. It is a mindset to structure communications around change initiatives. By adopting this technique, organisations can navigate the complexities of business transformation with clarity and confidence. The Benefit Breakdown Structure, after all, is a guide to the treasure – and in this case, the treasure is the realisation of strategic objectives and, of course, benefits along the way.