Slam Dunk the Benefits Funk

I’ve had a fun couple of days in Chicago (home of Michael Jordan – if you didn’t know that already) on the train the trainer course for the brand spanking new Managing Benefits practitioner course from the APMG International.  I’m not going to be training formally, but I will be talking to a lot of Training Companies in the USA who are all getting very excited about this course.  So I thought I should walk the walk before I speak to these guys, which means I sat the  foundation exam (which I slam dunked) and the practitioner exam (which I just found out i passed too – whoop whoop).

Steve Jenner ran the course (the dude that wrote the book) and I have to say I really think this qualification is something that is going to go massive on a global scale.  I said it at the launch event for the book, and indeed you’ll see my quote on the back of the book, which states that this isn’t guidance for benefits management, it’s the bible for benefits management….hmm i suppose that makes me a disciple haha.

So, whilst Steve is buddy and I love the APMG International (people that accredit the course) I’ve put together my top five reasons why, if I were you, I would be getting my back side on this course and adding a new feather to my cap with the practitioner qualification immediately.

Your top 5 reasons:  Why you should sit the Managing Benefits Practitioner Exam immediately.

1) Lets be honest, most people and organizations are pretty useless at managing benefits and there’s a high chance that you’re not that great too (which is fine, don’t worry).  However, by doing this course and qualification you will very rapidly be very good, so good in fact that you will go into work the next day and easily spot issues in your organizations business cases and the wider approach to managing benefits.  But perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to advise your colleagues and help to improve the situation and that’s always a nice thing to do – so don’t be surprised if you quickly become the ‘go-to benefits person’.

2) Managing benefits knows no boundaries.  I don’t care if your running a programme or a project, or portfolio or working in a portfolio office in outer Mongolia, Manchester or Minnesota, it doesn’t matter if you are a PMI, PRINCE2, MSP, Agile, Fragile or Jedi Knight…the rules are the same.  So this means that not only will this be a transferable skill geographically for you but it will hold you in great stead as you progress up the ladder of your career.

3) One of the great things about the book is it shows you what other people have done in this field with fab examples.  Benefit mapping is a good one, you’ll find real life maps from Cranfield, Thorp, Bradley and the British Government so you can check them out and kick around ideas for your own organization.  So from your own time efficiency perspective, it saves you having to read all the other books (unless you really want to)… probably not great news for the other authors, but good news for you because you get a great overview of all the good stuff.

4) Is there any other show in town right now? Okay we still need to deliver projects and programmes and we always will,  but there is an undeniable global shift that is focusing much more on the question “are we investing in the ‘right’ projects and programmes”? (we can thank the recession for that).  So this is driving the birth of a whole new profession which is called Portfolio Management, a simple check on jobserve will confirm this!  The thing is you simply cant do portfolio management without having an effective Benefits Management structure in place.  I repeat, you cannot do portfolio management without having an effective benefits management structure in place.

5) It’s difficult, yes this is a reason to do the exam for sure.  It’s difficult is because there is no getting away from the fact that to understand and manage benefits at any level you need to understand some big scary words like investment appraisals, cost benefit analysis, Net Present Value, Optimism Bias, Multi-Criteria Analysis, Cognitive Biases, Weighted Average Cost of Capital, Service Value Chain…blah blah blah.  But, face the fear and you’ll feel very very good about yourself.

So what can you do now? Well the courses will be running soon (in the next few weeks I think) so keep an eye on the APMG Website and their Twitter, most of all I highly recommend you join the Managing Benefits linked in Group which Steve runs, it’s home for all the Benefits Geeks around the world who are a cool bunch and you’ll be right up to date with stuff that’s going on.

Tweet me if you go on a course and let me know how it went.


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