Successful IT projects – A multiple case study of benefits management practices
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionProcedia Computer Science. 2023, 219 1847-1859. 10.1016/j.procs.2023.01.482
Delivering project benefits for users and society is a key aspect of success in public IT projects. The traditional success measures, such as time and cost, only tell parts of the story. Furthermore, one of the main challenges in public IT projects is the inability to produce benefits. The objective of the study is to give evidence-based advice in order to contribute to better benefits management. This objective is achieved through increased knowledge about practices within two central aspects: identification and planning of benefits, and how benefit management is practiced during the execution phase of IT projects. The authors collected information about 23 public IT projects both through interviews with project personnel and by reviewing project documents. These information sources were then analyzed, using mainly qualitative methods. It was found that most projects had some form of a cost-benefit analysis, but the quality and comprehensiveness of the analyses varied. Furthermore, the interview results suggested that the later use of the cost-benefit analysis in benefit management during the project was less important for benefit management, and that the main purpose of the analysis was to ensure approval of the business case. When asked about benefit management practices during the execution phase of the projects, the interviewees’ answers were divided almost equally between “important” and “not important.” This applied to both the general practice of benefit management and the use of the benefit plan. Personnel with clear responsibility and sufficient authority to realize benefits was one of the most frequently mentioned features that contributed to the realization of benefits. For the later termination phase and evaluation phase, the findings revealed that projects used few resources to evaluate and document realized benefits. In conclusion, the study revealed both awareness and a focus on benefit management practices in the projects represented in the dataset, but also shortcomings. Based on the results, the authors include a set of five practical recommendations for better benefits management.