3. Benefits planning

Benefits planning lays the groundwork for the monitoring and evaluation of benefits and specific outcomes from a proposed initiative. It consists of the following two broad areas:

  • Developing Benefits Profiles
  • Establishing a governance process for benefits evaluation.

Benefits planning starts during Step 3 of the ATAP Framework (Options Generation and Assessment, see F3) and is further refined and finalised in Step 4 of the Framework (Business Cases for Proposed Initiatives, see F4).

3.1 Timing

Benefits planning spans across Step 3 of the ATAP Framework (Options Generation and Assessment, see F3) and Step 4 of the Framework (Business Cases for Proposed Initiatives, see F4). Benefits planning ties in with the appraisal and assessment of options to identify a preferred option for an initiative.

3.2 Develop Benefits Profiles

Following the identification of the preferred option in Step 3 of the STAP Framework (Options Generation and Assessment, see F3), a subset of benefits is selected and agreed with key stakeholders for monitoring and evaluation, based on the preferred option. Usually, the benefits with the highest value or worth will be selected during this phase.

Once agreed, the Benefits Profiles can then be refined further to be consolidated into a Benefits Register (see sections 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 for description and details of Benefits Profiles and the Benefits Register).

Benefits profiling should ideally be started during Step 3 of the Framework and can be further developed during development of the Business Case for the preferred option. An example of a Benefit Profile is provided in Appendix B.

A Benefits Profile will typically require the following steps:

  • Benefits classification
  • Benefits measurement.

3.2.1 Benefits classification

Benefit measures are classified to demonstrate the strategic alignment of initiatives and to aid the aggregation of benefit performance from initiative to program to portfolio. Each jurisdiction may develop their unique approach to classifying or categorising benefit measures. Typically, a benefits classification approach could be linked to the jurisdiction’s transport system objectives. Other common approaches include:

  • Monetised and non-monetised benefits
  • Triple bottom line – Economic, social, and environmental
  • Balance scorecard – Financial, customer, internal business process, learning and growth.

The benefits classification approach should be linked with a system of key performance indicators. This enables benefit measures to be consistently identified and outcomes to be fairly compared and assessed, based on agreed and available key performance indicators.

3.2.2 Benefits measurement

Benefits measurement should ideally commence in the early stages of initiative development and options generation and assessment (Step 3 of the ATAP Framework). These measures are further detailed and linked to a preferred solution that is being proposed as part of the development of a Business Case.

Benefits are measured to prevent any bias from overstating what can be achieved from a proposed solution. Benefits must be evidence-based. Baseline and actual measures should be captured to provide a clear comparison of performance improvement between when a problem is identified and after a solution has been delivered.

Benefits measurement involves the following tasks:

  • Confirm Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Determine benefit metrics
  • Measure baseline performance
  • Set target measures
  • Confirm and validate measures.

Confirm Key Performance Indicators

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measure that enables monitoring of performance in terms of progress towards a specific, defined outcome. In benefits planning, KPIs are set to measure benefits achieved.

Steps, goals, objectives and targets are set early in the ATAP Framework. Problems are identified and the rationale for addressing a particular problem is defined. Following the selection of a preferred option, the targets can be revised and KPIs assigned to each benefit that will be monitored. The KPIs identified for each Benefit Profile will be inherently linked to the transport system targets identified in Step 1 of the Framework (Goals, Objectives and Targets, see F1).

Table 4 provides an example of how benefits can be linked to KPIs to allow for tracking and subsequent measurement.

Table 4: Example of KPIs for benefits identified
ObjectivesBenefitsKPI
Prosperity and economic growth Improve travel time KPI 1.1 Travel times
Public safety Improve road safety KPI. 2.1 Fatalities

Determine benefit metrics

For each KPI, a ‘tangible’ measure should be identified where reasonable and practical. The metric should be specific, measurable and relevant. For instance, a KPI metric value may be determined as a percentage that increases over time.

The source data required to estimate each metric should be clearly identified and reflected by benefit to facilitate data collection. Examples of data sources include surveys, public sector agencies datasets, etc.

Table 5 provides an example of how initiative benefits can be translated into KPIs and, in turn, how benefit metrics can be developed to assess the extent to which objectives have been achieved.

Table 5: Example of benefit metrics
ObjectivesBenefitsKPIBenefit metric
Prosperity and economic growth Improve travel time KPI 1.1 Travel times Time savings between key points on the network
Public safety Improve road safety KPI 2.1 Fatalities Fatality rate on corridor Z

Measure baseline performance

Benefit measures need to be evidence based. They need to be validated and clear criteria for collecting data and measuring performance agreed with the benefit owner and its stakeholders. Once agreement is obtained, the approach must be documented completely to enable the same methodology to be used when evaluating benefit performance after initiative delivery.

In benefits planning, data is collected on the baseline metric for each benefit. Actual outcomes will be compared to this baseline measure during benefits evaluation. In order to demonstrate that an initiative has delivered the expected benefits, it is important to know what the situation was before the change commenced. The approach to be undertaken for data collection and analysis, as well as determination of the findings and lessons learned, should be discussed with the key project stakeholders.

Baseline measures provide the means to capture current situational (or base level) data that can then be used to compare various performance measures before, and after, initiative tasks have been progressively implemented. If baseline measures are not taken and validated at the beginning of an initiative, it is very difficult to objectively demonstrate the achievement of initiative benefits throughout its lifecycle.

Table 6: Example of baseline measures
ObjectivesBenefitsKPIBenefit metricBaseline measure
Prosperity and economic growth Improve travel time KPI 1.1 Travel times Time savings between key points on the network Y mins between X and Y in 2015
SocialPublic safety Improve road safety KPI 2.1 Fatalities Fatality rate on corridor Z X number of fatalities in 2015

Set target measures

A target represents a desired level of performance for a specific outcome. For example, if travel speed is the specific outcome, the target might be 40 kms/hr. Measurable and realistic targets, albeit ones that are still challenging, need to be set during benefits planning.

Table 7 describes possible targets that can be assigned for identified benefits and KPIs.

Table 7: Example of target measures
ObjectivesBenefitsKPIBenefit metricBaseline measureTarget measure
Prosperity and economic growth Improve travel time KPI 1.1 Travel times Time savings between key points on the network Y mins between X and Y in 2015 5 mins time savings between X and Y by 20XX
SocialPublic safety Improve road safety KPI 2.1 Fatalities Fatality rate on corridor Z X number of fatalities in 2015 10% reduction in fatalities from crashes by 20XX

Once the above information is derived for each benefit, a Benefit Profile can be built.

In setting target measures, timeframes for the achievement of targets should consider the scale of initiatives and realistic timeframes for the ramp-up of benefits - for example, as land use changes occur.

Confirm and validate measures

During benefits planning, benefit owners and stakeholders who are likely to be responsible for endorsing the collation and reporting of benefit data should be engaged to ensure appropriate metrics are available, the proposed approach for evaluating benefit performance is valid, and the likely costs for collecting the data, evaluation and reporting benefit performance are in line with the scale of the initiative.

Benefit owners will need to confirm and endorse that identified benefits measures are appropriate and ensure that any agreed new measures can be integrated with performance management systems.

3.3 Establish governance process for benefits evaluation

Following the undertaking of benefits planning, it is important to note that consideration should be given to facilitating the undertaking of benefits evaluation, including:

  • Determining roles and responsibilities in conducting a benefits evaluation
  • Refining the target audience for presenting benefits evaluation findings
  • Determining the timing to conduct benefits evaluation and reporting
  • Using the same approach for data collection, measuring, evaluation and reporting
  • Validating data collection, performance measurement and evaluation
  • Reporting content and structure
  • Developing a succession plan to handover the Benefits Management Plan and responsibilities to benefits owners.