What is the difference between quick wins and unplanned benefits?

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When you are putting a change initiative together you really need to make sure you have some planned quick wins and also keep an eye out for benefits that you didn’t foresee. Basically you should try and plan for the quick wins, but expect to see, and take advantage of unplanned benefits.

What is a quick win?

Quick Wins are opportunities for improvement (tangible benefits) which can be implemented and realised over a relatively short timescale. These are really the raison d’etre for any business change. Quick wins will significantly assist you and are essential,  in creating stakeholder buy-in to the initiative as they provide early reward from the change effort and demonstrate that improvements are being made.

Benefits quick wins, effort 'v' impact

Benefits quick wins, effort ‘v’ impact

Financial benefits that are also Quick Wins can also help to fund the programme changes that will produce higher overall long-term benefits.

Quick Wins can simply be planned programme benefits which are expected to be realised early in the change programme. However these are more usually defined as Lead Benefits i.e., those benefits appearing early in the Benefits Dependency Map that appear at the beginning of the programme as a result of early programme activity. More often, Quick Wins refer to additional, previously unidentified benefits which can be delivered early in the programme and which can also be achieved with little or no extra effort.

In either case, Quick Wins should be treated in the same way as any other benefit i.e., included in the Benefits Dependency Map, Benefit Profiles and Benefit Profile Summary and managed/reported with all the other programme benefits. Quick Wins should be controlled by the programme’s governance arrangements to ensure that they remain within the scope of the programme.

Opportunities for Quick Wins should be explored throughout the development of the programme and its business case. An example of a Quick Win is where the introduction of a new Balanced Scorecard to improve management reporting and governance is also identified as an excellent visual tool that can be used immediately for engaging staff in understanding the organisation’s current performance and priorities.

Unplanned benefits

Unplanned benefits as potential benefits that are identified after the most detailed business case has been signed-off.  Once identified and agreed to be within scope, these unplanned benefits should be treated in the same way as any other benefit i.e., included in the Benefits Dependency Map, Benefit Profiles and Benefit Profile Summary and managed/reported with all the other programme benefits.  The identification of unplanned benefits should not be seen as a failure in programme planning. They should be celebrated as additional value creation that had not been foreseen at the time the business case was validated.

Opportunities for unplanned benefits should be explored throughout the programme’s implementation stages. Unplanned benefits must be controlled by the programme’s governance arrangements to ensure that they remain within the scope of the programme.  An example of an Unplanned Benefit is finding a new revenue stream for a product (or waste product) that has been developed for an unrelated purpose (e.g., using waste material from the brewing process to generate revenues as animal feed).

Post by Pete Wilson

Pete has worked in the technology and business change space for over 30 years. He's worked globally for large public sector and governmental bodies and for large private sector multinationals across numerous industry sectors.

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