It has been argued that benefits, risks and value are all in the eye of the stakeholder, and that perhaps we should be thinking just as much about potential disbenefits, opportunities and return on effort to provide a more robust perspective.

Many business cases are arguably works of fantasy, and therefore projects and programmes often get commissioned and initiated on the basis of the 'pitch' put forward in an initial proposal or mandate. So the skills required are good proposal writing and knowing what boxes to tick to meet the perceived scope and requirements, and this is where specialists and management consultants are often brought in to help. This may later lead to doom and gloom, but their success criteria is in the winning of the contract and securing the need for later project and programme management activity.

Some research has found that there is a correlation between the 'richness''of the business case and a project's ultimate success i.e. the less the ambiguity then the greater the chance of success. Not exactly rocket science unless your project is part of a programme to build rockets. However, remember that programmes have a greater degree of uncertainty and complexity than projects, and the ambiguity in the outcomes requires managing the trade-offs between benefits, risks and performance (however you measure that) on the basis of managed assumptions. Projects focus on delivering outputs through work streams, work packages and tasks, and managing with much greater certainty the trade-offs between costs, time and quality. There are probably other constraints, but we'll leave that for now. Portfolios of projects and programmes are obviously connected, but throw in the dynamic nature of change and you see the challenges.

So in the bigger scheme of things all of this effort is about delivering change and transformation, and it has to fit in with the vision and direction of those that set the agenda. In previous blog posts we've talked about skills, competency, certification, qualification and experience, but has it dawned on everyone yet that for most of us it is about delivering on the vision, mission and values that others set? Right or wrong, good or bad, waste or wonder, that is in essence what we're actually all about. Evaluating outcomes and outputs is still dependent on stakeholder perspectives, and ours is not to reason why but to deliver excellence as per 'JFDI'.

There are many questions, but an answer? As many as the customer can afford.