Quantifying soft benefits


Implementing BS202002: Benefits management on

portfolios, programmes and projects


By Dr. Hugo Minney

United Kingdom

In this series expanding on the British standard BS 202002:2023 (Benefits Management for Portfolios, Programmes and Projects) [1], we’ve covered benefits management across the portfolio, and the key stages of benefits management in programmes, projects and other related work.

Figure 1 What matters – wisdom, happiness, beauty

A key principle of benefits management is to identify what matters (an example is given in Figure 1) and determine if your project changes something that matters (preferably for the better). Many of the benefits that matter the most are soft benefits – improvements in morale, greater amounts of innovation, closer adherence to quality standards. Not everything relates to more profit or more savings, and chasing profit is a fool’s game – profit comes when the people side is right.

It’s tempting to measure and report the things that are easy to measure, such as costs and income, because they are easy to measure, but “what gets measured gets done” (a quote often attributed to Tom Peters[2]), so if we measure the wrong things, we’re going to get the wrong result (the wrong things done). Therefore, the start point for benefits is to identify what are the right things, the important things, and then measure them.

Identifying the benefits

Benefits are the reason we do projects. Sometimes the benefits of a particular project might seem a little dubious: the reason might be to boost someone’s career (how many projects do you know that don’t seem to have any other purpose?) or create a legacy (the Taj Mahal[3] is one of these); but most projects have a clear driver or need which is based on something that benefits lots of people, and satisfying that clear driver is a benefit.

One of the clearest ways to identify benefits is work with stakeholders to create a benefits map – or to find the current updated benefits map that accompanies the project during delivery. Let’s assume that a benefits map is not available – a starting point is the bi-directional benefits map (see [4] and [1] Figure B.1 in the British standard). This begins with the policy or strategic objectives, identifies the actions likely to achieve those objectives, then compares the likely consequences of those actions with the intended objectives and benefits. This requires a conversation with the stakeholders, those who are in the best position to explain what is wanted, and what is likely to happen if particular changes are made. The bidirectional benefits map is great for designing policy, but for developing a project in detail we need a technique that can cope with complexity. See Figure 2 for a Results Chain map example.


To read entire report, click here

Editor’s note: The author Dr. Hugo Minney is a Fellow of APM (Association for Project Management), a Member of PMI and PMI UK, Co-Chair of APM’s Benefits and Value SIG, and committee member of PMI UK’s Sustainability Community of Action. For more, see his author profile at the end of this article.

How to cite this work: Minney, H. (2024). Quantifying soft benefits, Implementing BS202002: Benefits management on portfolios, programmes and projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XIII, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/pmwj140-Apr2024-Minney-quantifying-soft-benefits-series-article.pdf

About the Author

Dr Hugo Minney

London, UK


 Dr. Hugo Minney is a Fellow of APM (Association for Project Management), a Member of PMI and PMI UK, Co-Chair of APM’s Benefits and Value SIG and committee member of PMI UK’s Sustainability Community of Action (none of which are paid).

Minney set out to become a farmer, but was defeated by bureaucracy. He sold high ticket computer systems and specialist software for workforce planning; joined the National Health Service for 18 years (and as a Chief Executive for the last 7 of these), and is now a project management consultant with a sideline chairing a charity restoring the sense of community for young people.

Minney works in project management, and in particular benefits management, motivating team members by reporting what they are achieving together and changing the community and culture to want to achieve – together. At present, he’s more involved on the governance side, accredited as a Social Value practitioner and Chartered Project Professional, and reviewing the balance of projects and contribution to objectives and benefits across portfolios.

Dr. Minney can be contacted at hugo.minney@thesocialreturnco.org

To view previous works by Hugo Minney, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-hugo-minney/