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Business Analysis Techniques by Paul Turner, Debra Paul, James Cadle

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BUSINESS ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
One significant issue concerns the timing of the review. Suppose, for example, that
a project has been authorised on the basis of a year-on-year sales increase, which
starts at 5 per cent in the first year and rises to 50 per cent in year five. Are we
really going to wait for ve years to see if the project has been a success? And if we
do, is it not likely that changes in the business environment will complicate the
assessment process? Even if we do wait ve years and find that the benefit has not
been achieved, it is a bit late to do much about it now. So probably, in this case, we
would actually initiate the review after year one, check whether the sales were on
the right trajectory to achieve a 50 per cent improvement by year ve, and identify
any further actions needed to secure that trajectory.
A second issue is the difficulty of disaggregating the effects of multiple projects
from one another and from changes in the underlying business situation. For
example, if there are ve concurrent projects, each aimed at a 10 per cent
increase in sales within two years, what do we conclude if the total sales
increase after two years is only 30 per cent? That two of the projects have failed?
(And, in that case, which two?) That all have fallen short in some way? Or that
the business climate has taken a downturn? This is a very real difficulty, and
probably one of the reasons why benefits realisation reviews are not always
undertaken. The benefits maps can be used to assist in this analysis on the basis
that, if the enabling and business changes were successfully introduced, it is a
fair bet that so were the benefits. Gerald Bradley’s book (2006) has some
interesting ideas in this area.
The final issue is to do with organisational culture and politics. It may be that,
among the senior management, there is a nasty suspicion that a project has not
been successful, but to initiate a benefits realisation review would make this
very public and perhaps start a witch hunt to nd out what went wrong. In this
situation, people being human, it is not surprising if senior managers just do not
want to ‘lift the stone’ and find out the truth. Oddly enough, this may be more of a
problem in the private sector, where it is (relatively) easier to bury ones mistakes’;
in the public sector, bodies like the National Audit Office and parliamentary select
committees look into significant projects and uncover shortfalls in them.
REFERENCES
Bennis, W. (1998) Managing People is Like Herding Cats. Kogan Page, London.
Bradley, G. (2006) Benefit Realisation Management: A Practical Guide to
Achieving Benefits Through Change. Gower, Aldershot.
Deal, T.E. and Kennedy, A.A. (1988) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of
Corporate Life. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
Handy, C. (1993) Understanding Organizations, 4th edition. Penguin Books,
Harmondsworth.
Hofstede, G. (1991) Culture and Organizations: Intercultural Cooperation and its
Importance for Survival. McGraw-Hill International, London.
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