From good intentions to hard and measurable benefits

Norlys and Implement Consulting Group

11 March 2024

How Norlys took a maturity leap to realise the benefits potential in their strategic development initiatives.

How are we actually doing?

Norlys was a company with a high level of maturity when it came to the classic and technically focused project management virtues of being in control of cost, schedule and scope.

But how was Norlys doing when it came to benefits realisation? That conversation had been ongoing for some time in their Enterprise (E)-PMO and the honest answer was: they did not know.

To have a good discussion with the executive team about benefits realisation, the E-PMO team decided to gather the data that was available and benchmark their findings against the maturity model depicted below.

They found a lot of good intentions, but they did not find much data on benefits realisation, and there was no structured approach to managing either benefits or change, which indicated that Norlys was at the same level as most organisations – that is “Level 0”.

Benefits realisation challenged our thinking about our project maturity and created a demand for accurate benefits data to improve decision-making.

Robbert Stecher, director, Strategic Business Development and Legal

Finding the right level of ambition

Together with the executive leadership team, the E-PMO team formulated a new ambition for benefits realisation at Norlys. They created a plan for testing a structured approach for benefits realisation and change as a possible way forward to increase their maturity and deliver on their ambitions.

Norlys’ ambitions with their benefits realisation initiative

  • Realise substantially more benefits – and have them documented
  • Improve strategic portfolio management and decision-making
  • Ensure that Norlys will continue to be a very attractive workplace by being ahead on subject matter expertise

Piloting before scaling

The E-PMO team spent time making an initial adaption of the benefits realisation method before testing it on three pilot projects. To make it as easy as possible for the project managers, the new methods were built into the current project model. In that way, benefits realisation became an addition to their current ways of working and thus easier to approach.

The pilots were another opportunity to further fine-tune the method to suit Norlys. However, the most important reason to do the pilots was to showcase that benefits realisation would have a major impact on Norlys’ projects and to train internal method experts as part of the pilots, so there would be a small team of Norlys method experts ready to support the change required for the scaling efforts to the rest of the portfolio.

The pilots exceeded expectations, which meant that the newly formed method expert team was given the green light to start scaling once the pilots were finalised.

The pilots were an eye-opener for our organisation – both in terms of where we were and the impact that benefits realisation could have.

Tom Møller Nielsen, method expert and senior business consultant

Pilot findings and selected evaluation quotes

Examples of pilot findingsPilot evaluation quotes
  • Vastly overestimated benefits

  • Vastly underestimated benefits

  • Double counting of benefits

  • Unclear ownership of benefits
“Something magical happens when we get key stakeholders together from across Norlys and discuss benefits and change.”
(Infrastructure pilot)

“The method works really well and supports the conversation about what we need to do differently tomorrow.”

(Procurement pilot)

"It works well since it’s actually an easy concept to learn and apply.”
(Digital and optimisation pilot)

The first wave of scaling the use of a structured approach to benefits realisation and change involved going from three pilots executed in 3 months to scaling an additional 16 strategically important projects and programmes in 9 months. During that first wave, method experts from Norlys’ local portfolios would also be trained to enable further adaption of the method in all of Norlys’ IT and change projects.

The power of the PMO

In Norlys, the E-PMO is where they go the extra mile to implement benefits realisation. It is the home of the method experts who provide project support for benefits realisation and change as well as the place that provides the reports that substantiate and celebrate the realisation of benefits.

Thus, the E-PMO has started to gather high-quality project data on benefits in order to make better strategic decisions at a portfolio level and to make sure that learnings are passed on to the next projects.

The effort to enable benefit-driven decision-making at a portfolio level is also the fourth and last step in Norlys’ maturity journey for their most important projects.

Benefits realisation is the lever for next-level strategic decisionmaking and learning.

Anna Engbæk, senior manager, Enterprise Portfolio Management and Centre of Excellence

Further scaling of the method will follow until all larger change projects are using a structured approach to benefits realisation and change. And the eight “local” PMOs will follow as well, as the impact that benefits realisation can have on one project is significant. The impact it can have at a portfolio level is even greater.

About Norlys

Norlys is the largest Danish provider of energy and telecommunication services. With its 1.7 million customers, 3,000 employees and its ownership anchored with 800,000 consumers, Norlys is a driving force in the green transition with investments of over two BDKK per year. That investment is managed by an Enterprise PMO supported by an additional eight division and support function PMOs.

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