How to protect capital investment and realise planned benefits


It’s an often-quoted statistic that most programmes fail. Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner helped quantify how stark this problem is.

Their research in over 16,000 global projects found that only 8.5% were delivered on time and budget. However, more concerning was that a paltry 0.5% delivered the intended benefits.

This makes for difficult reading when organisations are deciding on how to allocate precious capital investment.

But in our experience, this doesn’t have to be the case. Providing a relentless focus on benefits realisation throughout the change life-cycle can enable organisations to buck the trend and deliver value.

How best to do this? There are three areas to focus on:

  • Definition – it all starts up front having a clear description on benefits. Spending time getting consensus across stakeholder groups is crucial to work to a shared agenda later down the line
  • Plan – once the business case is signed-off make sure there is a clearly articulated plan to realise the benefits. This is different to a classic programme implementation plan. The document needs to evolve through delivery as benefits are further refined and validated. This acts as a mirror to the original benefits, holding stakeholders to account
  • Decision – the plan needs to actively feature in governance forums. This helps sponsors make decisions based on commercial outcomes rather than tactical delivery choices. Through elevating the conversation around benefits you enable stakeholders to effectively prioritise resources. This can mean either investing more in a programme or even at times taking a difficult decision to stop
" Relentless focus on commercial outcomes throughout the delivery life-cycle is crucial if you're to protect capital investment and realise planned benefits.” – Julian Thornley, EA Partner


Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner, “How big things get done: The surprising factors behind every project, from home renovations to space exploration and everything in-between.” February (2023)