The Central Wales Infrastructure Collaboration is a partnership between Powys and Ceredigion County Councils. We currently have a shared Engineering Design Service, and a single Streetworks team which co-ordinates works on the highway for the region.
At an early stage of the collaborative project, it was decided that identifying the benefits early on would aid decision-making, and, provided effective monitoring was in place, would contribute to evaluating success.
When we first started to think about measuring and recording the benefits of our shared service activities, we had limited ideas about how to approach it and I spent many a fruitless hour trawling the internet looking for clues. Eventually, I came across some relevant and useful items, and posts on the KnowledgeHub Project and Programme Management Community of Practice that pointed me in the right direction.
In this article, I have consolidated and adapted some of the learning to help others who may be wondering ‘where on earth to start?’.
Starting at the beginning… What is a Benefit?
A benefit is “a measureable improvement resulting from the changes and outcomes introduced by the programme”. It “must be perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders”1. Those changes and outcomes perceived as negative by one or more stakeholders are known as dis-benefits.
Outputs, Outcomes and Benefits?
● Outputs are activities/tasks completed as part of a project
● Outcomes are what has happened as a result of an output
● Benefits are measurable improvements which have occurred as a result of an outcome
Using an example of the purchase and implementation of a shared bridge management system, which was acquired for our two partner councils, we can identify the outputs, outcomes and anticipated benefits as follows:
The Outputs were:
● joint procurement
● joint licensing
● shared training
The Outcomes were:
● standardised data
● facilitates joint working on bridge inspections
● commonality of approach
● reduced duplication of duties
● shared purchase cost
● shared licensing cost
● up to date inventory
● comparability of data allows benchmarking
● feeds into maintenance programmes allowing a more targeted approach
● improved management information
The Benefits were:
● saving in staff time – procurement
● saving in staff time – bridge inspections
● saving in staff time – administration of database
● saving in staff time – administration of abnormal loads movements
● saving on cost of purchase
● saving on cost of licence fee
● better utilization of funds due to targeted maintenance programmes
● lifespan of assets improved due to targeted maintenance programmes
● improved highway infrastructure for public use.
We developed a benefits management process that would help us on all projects the partnership will develop. The process is set out on the next page to inspire your work [please download the full article to see the next page].