1.1 The vast majority of Government policies are delivered through projects
and programmes of various forms. It is therefore vital that we deliver projects successfully in order to realise their intended benefits for citizens. 1.2 As the centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects and the home of the project delivery function across Government, the IPA’s
purpose is to continuously improve the way projects are delivered. To do
this, we first need to be able to measure performance, including the
expected benefits of major projects, so we can learn important lessons
and make continuous improvements to the system over time. 1.3 The majority of Government projects are complex to deliver. The IPA works with departments and industry to help improve the way individual projects are being delivered, and this includes ensuring that the forecast benefits of each project are protected and citizens receive the promised improvements. 1.4 Another vital component is ensuring projects are initiated in the right way. Evidence shows that the best way to ensure successful delivery is by setting up projects correctly in the first place. The most common causes of failure are well rehearsed: lack of clear objectives, insufficient resources, and over-ambitious cost and schedule, among others. All these mistakes impact on the level and amount of benefit that can be realised, and can be avoided if tackled in a project’s early stages. 1.5 Benefits management goes to the heart of delivering projects successfully. If appropriate time is dedicated to benefits early on then clear objectives are shaped and there is an agreed understanding of stakeholder wants and needs. Issues that we know are crucial to the success of projects, such as accounting for optimism bias during the early stages of development for example, can be tackled best by focusing on rigorous benefits management from the start. 1.6 One of the IPA’s priorities is to measure and improve performance of projects over time, in order to help them realize benefits for society, provide value for money and enable lessons learned to be shared. Effective benefits management is essential to this and the IPA will increase its focus on benefits management, and in particular benefits analysis, to better understand key challenges and promote good practice from past projects and apply them to current and new projects. However, we can only do that if projects themselves improve how they understand and measure their own benefits. 1.7 This guide has been written to help project teams develop their benefits management capability and ensure benefits activities mature at the same pace as other areas of project delivery. This document promotes a benefits led approach to project delivery which should ensure decision making, planning and risk considers the impact on benefits realisation throughout the project lifecycle.