What is this?
The Benefits Exploration Map (BEM) helps you explore all possible benefits that could result from undertaking a change, by considering the initiative from a number of different perspectives. It demonstrates how the change is aligned to the strategic priorities of your department or institution and importantly it identifies the range of anticipated measurable benefits that you will use to clearly demonstrate the impact. The figure below illustrates an exemplar BEM for a change aiming to simplify the student online application process in order to increase the number of applications completed.
Project Objective: Simplify the student online application process in order to increase the number of applications completed
What does the tool help achieve?
Introduce the language of benefits
Using the BEM gets all stakeholders thinking and talking about the benefits as early as possible in the change process. This influences how people approach the initiative from the outset by always returning to how to evidence the impact of the work.
Create transparency and respect
The tool is straightforward and accessible to all stakeholders regardless of their role in your institution, enabling individuals and teams to clearly communicate the benefits from their perspective and build an understanding of, and respect for, other views.
Inform the decision making process
A change can be more effectively appraised when the anticipated benefits are considered up front. The BEM can help you select or prioritise initiatives based on the anticipated measurable benefits and how well the activity aligns with the strategic goals of your department or institution.
Drive engagement and ownership
Using the BEM to encourage input from all stakeholder groups starts a process of empowerment and ownership of the change. Through taking the time to consider and discuss the benefits, stakeholders realise the importance of the change and what will be gained from it, which fundamentally drives their willingness to engage in the work. This helps ensure stakeholders take ownership of designing and implementing the changes, but also of evidencing the impact of those changes through measuring the benefits.
Inform future change initiatives
Lessons can also be learned for the future by evaluating the benefits identified on the BEM at the start of your initiative against the benefits that are fully realised after the changes have been implemented.
When do I use it?
During the scoping and selection stage
Use the BEM at the scoping stage of a change initiative, to consider how the project aligns with your department and institution’s strategic objectives and how it will contribute to the Key Performance Indicators. This aids prioritising and selecting which initiatives to proceed with, based on how they will help achieve the strategic goals.
During early stage stakeholder engagement activities
Use the BEM in every stakeholder engagement scenario; from one-to-one meetings with senior managers or project sponsors, to workshops with larger stakeholder groups. This ensures that all perspectives are represented and the range of benefits identified is as broad as possible.
With the project team
Use the BEM in the first workshop with the project team to provide context about the benefits that the wider stakeholder groups have identified and to reinforce the importance of evidencing the impact of the changes using the measurable benefits. The project team can also add further benefits if they have not already contributed. This is an ideal time to generate enthusiasm from the project team to gather the necessary baseline data for the measurable benefits.
After the changes have been implemented
Review the BEM after the changes have been implemented and you have captured the post-improvement data. This is a useful exercise to evaluate what measurable benefits have been fully realised and where further work may still be required to evidence an improvement. The lessons learned can also be shared to inform other initiatives.
Tips when using the tool
- The BEM is most effective when used with a range of stakeholders in a meeting or workshop environment to capture as broad a range of benefits as possible. Ideally the manager or change lead should introduce the BEM and facilitate this meeting
- Use the prompting questions in the figure below to help stakeholders think about the different types of benefits
- Have copies of your institution strategic plan or Key Performance Indicators to hand to help stakeholders complete the BEM, ask in advance for department Key Performance Indicators
- Challenge stakeholders to consider if any of the strategic, behavioural or stakeholder benefits can be measured. Ideally as many benefits as possible should be converted into measurable benefits. For example, improved staff satisfaction is a stakeholder benefit that can be measured using surveys
- Don’t worry if some benefits appear in more than one area of the map, this repetition is ok. The purpose of the tool is to make sure the benefits of the change have been considered from a range of perspectives
- Consider what is most appropriate to measure, return to the guidance in Chapter 4 of the Guide to help you