Francine Belzile & Sophie Rebello: experienced practitioners at the cutting edge of Benefits and Portfolio Management with the Société de Transport de Montreal (STM) presented to Benefits Management SIG on 24th March.
STM is an organisation of more than 9000 employees, an annual operating budget of $1.2BN and in 2011 accounted for over 400M passenger trips. STM aims to increase this to 540M trips as part of their own 2020 strategy.
In 2005 STM were faced with a familiar problem of having an increasing number of projects, limited financial and human resources and significant pressure on operations. They needed to make better project choices without jeopardising existing ones. The solution was to implement project portfolio management as an evolutionary approach, incorporating best practice and engaging employees so far as possible.
STM had learned that you cannot achieve benefits management without change management. Both required teams of people. STM defines benefits as “An advantage / earning realized when the project is delivered and perceived as so by the stakeholders.”
When they revisited activities specific to benefits management, such as identifying targets, approving projects and tracking benefits, they had realised that these should be integrated with existing information management. It didn’t make sense to create something different to what they already had.
STM objectives for the next three years include sustainable operationalization of benefits management and improved integration between project management and operations.
People need to be challenged and refocused, and as a result STM has now added the requirement to develop an action plan for all projects, which tend to arrive piece by piece - every project in itself, is a worthy project!
When it comes to tracking planned benefits it was sometimes like a ‘game of ball’ with the ball being tossed between projects and operations. Both teams need to have accountability at the appropriate levels and the linkages between the need testing and it helps where a person responsible for the KPIs in a particular sector is made responsible for results and benefits.
People feel that it is a challenge to find things that you can measure, or formulating benefits in a manner that it meaningful to the organisation. Another problem is people accepting accountability, which can be easily resolved by management – “it is part of your job!”
A recommendation for clearer parameters and mechanisms has now been addressed as STM has now organised benefits categories by impact – e.g. growth, satisfaction, commitment, optimisation and sustainability, with clear targets and enhanced reporting for each.
Clearer roles and responsibilities are being addressed by strengthening the role of the sponsor. The sponsor defines success factors and establishes benefits targets linked to project objectives for the project manager and, in turn, is accountable to the portfolio manager. http://bit.ly/apmstm