After carrying out a project we usually pose a question – did we achieve the desired benefit? However, often before carrying out a project we forget to agree on what benefit we want to accomplish. These three essential results that will help avoid miscommunication at the end of a project.
Output, outcome and benefit
Most of us have come across a situation, where after finishing a long and complicated project someone states that we did not achieve the desired benefit. But let’s ask ourselves, if we truly knew and agreed on what benefit, when and by who it was expected? Projects are usually initiated because there is a business need, when a need is put forward we often forget to write down three essential results:
- Project’s output
- Project’s outcome
- Project’s benefit
Output – a building has been built, it’s suitability for use has been finalised, however it’s still not being used. An IT system has been created and tested, it has been deemed suitable for use, though the users have not started using it yet.
Outcome – the building has been handed over to a council, 80% of the building has been occupied. The IT system started to operate and reached 70% efficiency, the team has been reduced by 10 employees because of it.
Benefit – the building has been in use for one year with an occupancy level of 80% or more. The financial benefit at the end of the year was a €100 000. The IT system has been in use for a year, the financial benefit of reducing staff and increasing processing efficiency is €80 000.
If customers and the project management team understand these three essential indicators, then there will definitely be no surprise and miscommunication when discussing the benefit of the project.
Important to agree on expectations in the beginning of the project
These three “friends” not only help to evaluate results, but also aid when evaluating if a project is worth starting. It is important to talk about these three results at the very beginning of a project and agree on how data will be collected, so that at the end these indicators can be quickly calculated.
Speaking about responsibility, it’s worth mentioning that achieving Output is the responsibility of the project team, while achieving the Outcome and Benefit belong to the departments which will use the results of the project a.k.a. Output.
The evaluation of a business idea, the beginning of the project, project’s results achieved, planned outcome achieved, project’s benefit is achieved and evaluated.