1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose and location in ATAP Framework

Benefits management is the process of identifying, defining, measuring, evaluating and reporting benefits in order to determine whether an initiative has achieved its intended outcomes and objectives once it is delivered. It is a process to ensure that outcomes from an initiative are defined, aligned to transport system objectives and managed through to their achievement or realisation.

Benefits management is a holistic end-to-end process. It occurs throughout the ATAP Framework by forming an integral aspect of the planning and delivery of initiatives. It embeds a culture of accountability and transparency throughout the ATAP framework in the consideration of benefits. Benefits management also provides a feedback mechanism to inform learnings for continuous improvement in benefit management processes in transport system management.

Throughout the ATAP Framework (see F2, F3 and F4), there are links to the benefits management process, ensuring that a mindset of accountability and structured approach towards achieving set benefits is embedded from the early stages of planning. Benefits management activities are undertaken both ex-ante (prior to commencing delivery) and ex-post (from delivery to end of an initiative’s lifecycle).

Figure 1 below shows how benefits management occurs in relation to the ATAP framework.

Figure 1: ATAP Framework and Benefits Management

ATAP Framework and Benefits Management

Benefits management comprises four elements:

  • Benefits identification (occurring during problems identification and options appraisal)
  • Benefits planning (occurring during options appraisal and Business Case development)
  • Ongoing benefits monitoring
  • Benefits evaluation (following delivery of an initiative).

Benefits identification provides a key input to benefits planning for establishing the activities to facilitate benefits evaluation. Good benefits identification and planning lead to reliable benefits measurement, which is required for benefits evaluation of an initiative.

Benefits identification and planning seeks to answer the following four questions:

  1. What benefits will arise from a specific initiative (aimed at overcoming a problem preventing transport system objectives from being achieved)?
  2. How will these benefits be measured?
  3. What KPIs should be used for benefits monitoring and evaluation?
  4. Who will be responsible for measurement?

Benefits evaluation is undertaken following the delivery of an initiative. The evaluation provides a comprehensive overview of both what an initiative has achieved and how this compares to what was expected.

Benefits evaluation responds to the following questions:

  1. Were the expected benefits achieved?
  2. What caused any variations between actual results and expected benefits?
  3. How can benefits management be improved and what lessons can be used to improve future initiatives?

1.2 Benefits appraisal vs benefits management

As mentioned above, benefits play a central role in two key ATAP processes: appraisal and benefits management. It is important to understand from the outset that while benefits appraisal and benefits management are closely aligned, they have different purposes:

  • Appraisal plays a primary role in identifying a preferred option for solving an identified problem, and demonstrating the justification of the preferred option - namely that benefits are greater than costs, resulting in net benefits.
  • Benefits management, on the other hand, seeks to create a process to ensure benefits are monitored and achieved post-delivery.

Benefits identification is common to both appraisal and benefits management, and is undertaken in the early steps of the ATAP Framework. Following benefits identification, benefit considerations differ between appraisal and benefits management, as explained in Table 1. Appraisal is discussed in more detail in F3.

Table 1: Benefits management and appraisal roles in the ATAP Framework
ATAP Framework Appraisal Benefits management
Step 2 Problem identification, assessment and priority

Benefits identification is common to both appraisal and benefits management. It seeks to identify and define potential benefits arising from addressing an identified problem (which in turn is preventing transport system objectives and targets from being achieved).

Benefits are identified using various techniques such as investment logic mapping, benefits dependency mapping, desk-top investigations and stakeholder engagement. In these processes, links are explored between the problem, the related benefits of reducing the problem and the associated transport system objectives and targets (as set in Step 1: Goals, Transport System Objectives and Targets, see F1).

Step 3 Options generation and assessment Appraisal plays a primary role in identifying a preferred option and demonstrating the justification of the preferred option - namely that benefits are greater than costs, resulting in net benefits. It uses the full list of benefits. Benefits planning seeks to identify a subset of benefits from the full list of benefits for monitoring and to establish a governance framework for benefits evaluation. Benefits planning should build on the information contained in the appraisal for accountability and transparency.
Step 4 Business cases for proposed initiatives The Business Case is developed, including full documentation of: benefits identification, benefits appraisal of options and all the benefits of the preferred option. The Benefits Profiles, Benefits Register and Benefits Management Plan are refined, validated and finalised in the Business Case.
Step 5 Prioritisation and program developmentStep 6 Delivery   An agreed subset of benefits is tracked and monitored.
Step 7 Post-completion evaluation An ex-post CBA can be undertaken to identify how strong the justification for an initiative was in hindsight. A benefits evaluation is undertaken to measure actual performance and identify any findings and lessons learned.

1.3 Principles of benefits management

The high level principles that should underpin benefits management are described in Table 2.

Table 2: Principles of benefits management
Principles to help shape benefits management Principles on how to approach benefits management Principles on how to manage benefits management
  • Benefits need to be understood as outcomes – justification for intervention in the first place
  • Benefits must be aligned with transport system objectives and performance measures
  • Benefits management is an end-to-end process during the full lifecycle of the initiative
  • Benefits are not automatic – delivery of desired benefits requires active monitoring
  • Benefits are dynamic; they need to be regularly reviewed and updated (where evidence-based)
  • Benefits can be monetised and non‑monetised
  • Intermediate outcomes are needed to realise end benefits
  • Benefits should be measurable and reasonable
  • Benefits must be owned by appropriate sponsors and managers
  • Benefits and the measures used should be integrated with an agency's performance management systems.
  • The numbers of benefits identified for monitoring outcome performance should be limited to a manageable number
  • Benefit management needs to be integrated with all other aspects of the initiative’s delivery
  • Benefits need to be communicated

Benefits management should:

  • Ensure benefits are identified and defined clearly at the outset, and are linked to transport system objectives
  • Drive the process of realising benefits, including benefit measurement and tracking and recording benefits as they are realised
  • Ensure there is a commitment to realise defined benefits with assigned ownership and responsibility for adding value through the realisation process
  • Provide alignment and clear links between the initiatives (its vision and desired benefits) and the transport system objectives
  • Establish a process of final evaluation to communicate whether the initiative has delivered its expected benefits.

1.4 Critical success factors

The following factors underpin successful benefits management:

  • Stakeholder buy-in
    • Senior management leadership and commitment
    • Early stakeholder engagement
    • Stakeholder consultation throughout the process
    • Operational ownership of benefits
  • Management of information
    • Benefit Profiles and Benefits Management Plan are up to date
    • Alignment with project/program management systems
    • Dissemination and publication of evaluation reports and outcomes
  • Embedded benefits achievement
    • Alignment of benefits to transport system objectives and jurisdictional goals
    • Governing bodies maintain a benefits achievement focus
    • Processes ingrained in organisations
    • Integration with program and change management, including any scope change or behavioural change required.

1.5 Importance of practical and measurable benefits

The availability of necessary data is critical for effective benefits management. The measurement of benefits is often a challenging process for practitioners and requires advanced planning of data needs and selection of appropriate measurement metrics. This will ensure that required data is available when benefits evaluation is undertaken. It may also require data collection before initiative delivery to ensure baseline data is available.