The municipality of Lyngdal has been cooperating with the Centre for eGovernment at the University of Agder the past seven years in developing and implementing a hands-on method for benefits realization. Benefits realization in Lyngdal measures benefits as a portfolio at a service level. This means that outcomes of a public service are measured, as opposed to outputs. This is executed by combining a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach to strategy and measurements in operations with the change management approach for investments found in Benefits Management (BM).
The figure of the Benefits Realization Model illustrates the mapping of strategic goals to performance indicators (Balanced Scorecard strategic mapping). These performance indicators are used in the analysis of possible benefits (BM benefits realization plan), and thus form the core of the justification of an investment or change. The analysis can be scaled to larger investments by including other BM tools, e.g. process analysis, stakeholder analysis, and dependency network. The benefits realisation plan contains not only possible benefits and corresponding indicators, but also descriptions, tasks, milestone dates and responsibilities for each benefit. This plan is a simple table format page to be updated during a project phase when new benefits that arise. The same performance indicators used for the justification of the change also measure the effects in operations during and after the project phase (Balanced scorecard BSC). Responsibility for a benefit does not end with the end of the project, but resides within the business unit that planned the benefit from the start until the benefit is realised or discounted.
A step-by-step routine for benefits realisation in a BSC environment is under development and testing, and e-procurement strategy experiences are gathered from the development and use of performance indicators for both justification and measurement of benefits realization.
Lyngdal has used the model for benefits realization actively throughout the project, and by involving all parties concerned. To understand their needs, and to ensure that the developments of solutions are rooted in real needs, focus groups were involved in a series of sessions in Lyngdal.
The idea is that stakeholders are the best experts, knowing the situation from experience and thus their knowledge is very valuable in the innovation process. “What can the municipality achieve by implementing new solutions in the new units? “ the groups were asked, with discussion points such as
What will be different in the new units compared to today’s units?
How do others and we experience the difference? (Benefits)
Can we measure the benefits? If yes, how can we measure them?
What are the biggest gain (better quality and / or greater efficiency) of the new way of working?
How do we "convert" the benefits? (better quality, more time for important tasks)
The various sessions covered stakeholders such as nursing staff, cleaning personnel, technical staff, senior citizens, relatives, local trade organizations’ representatives, as well as decision makers and administration.