Output vs. Outcome vs. Benefits in PRINCE2®

by Nader K. Rad, 2018-05-08

There’s a classical explanation in AXELOS products, including PRINCE2, that helps a lot in understanding the use of different standards and the management systems required for the whole organization, shown in the next figure and explained afterward:

Outputs vs. outcomes vs. benefits.png

Overview

There are three levels of achievement:

As an example, in a project designed to implement a document management system:

Management of Layers

There are different ways of handling each of those three layers:

And consequently, project management, program management, and portfolio management systems are used. A good option is to use PRINCE2, MSP, and MoP methods respectively.

A portfolio management system tries to increase benefits and to maximize the business value by defining, selecting, and resourcing multiple programs and projects. A program tries to achieve the outcome by defining and directing multiple projects; the combination of the outputs created by the projects will realize the desired outcome.

While the main focus of the project management system is on the outputs, it still has to pay enough attention to the two higher levels to make sure the product is realized effectively. It should also support the higher levels of program and portfolio management by tracking the realization of outcomes and benefits.

While this concept is still valid in Agile environments, differentiation of layers is much harder, since we are not sure about the product (output) in Agile environments and let it evolve by focusing on the outcomes and values instead. This situation makes it hard to separate the project management system from the program management system.

The Approach from PRINCE2 Agile

PRINCE2 Agile insists on the need for being more focused on the outcomes and values instead of outputs (e.g., in the Business Case and Project Product Description).

See Also


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