7 A broader picture: other methodologies

Learning Outcomes

  • Articulate the importance of a sustainable project base methodology.
  • Evaluate the Six Principles of PRiSM.
  • Assess the key phases of the Benefit Realisation Project Management Method life cycle.

Outside the traditional, sequential, process-based, uncertainty and agile project management methods there are also other methods which do not fit within these categories. Although they may share some characteristics common to other methodological categories, they have a fundamental difference. This module will discuss PRiSM and Benefits Realisation project management methods.


PRiSM is a sustainable principles-based project management methodology. The focus of this method is the value-maximisation model which determines the total asset life cycle. PRiSM ensures that an organisation leverages its existing structure so that benefits include horizontal and vertical improvements, including a significant requirement for sustainability (Madhavji and Schafer 1991; GPM 2013, 2019; Carboni et al. 2018).

This method is defined as a green project methodology, which is based on the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management (P5). P5 enables organisations to understand the impact of their projects (Madhavji and Schafer 1991; GPM 2013, 2019; Carboni et al. 2018). PRiSM supports a reduction in risk within a project from multiple perspectives (including environmental, social, cultural, and economic). Additional benefits can also be identified and realised. PRiSM follows the traditional project management life cycle and is comprised of 5 phases (as outlined in Figure 24).

Figure 24. Phases of project management, by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou, licensed under CC BY (Attribution) 4.0

These phases are (PMI, 2019):

Phase 1. Initiation. This phase involves establishing the project; the objectives and goals of the project are determined in this phase. Within this phase the approval is sought to start the project through the creation of the project charter. Documents required during this phase:

  • project charter
  • feasibility study
  • business case
  • resources.

Phase 2. Planning. This phase involves planning and designing the end-to-end project, including establishing a project management plan which outlines:

  • project scope
  • deliverables
  • objectives
  • dependencies
  • assumptions and constraints
  • work breakdown structure
  • stakeholder register and communication plan
  • budget
  • schedule
  • resources
  • risks and issues.

The planning phase develops a roadmap to support the implementation of the project deliverables.

Phase 3. Implementation. This phase puts the project plan into action. Within this phase the project team needs to be managed, and the outputs measured against the baseline scope, cost, and schedule. Stakeholder engagement and quality management are key within this phase.

Phase 4. Monitoring and controlling. This phase requires tracking the actual progress of the project compared to the plan, and where implementing corrective actions are needed.

Phase 5. Closure. This phase requires the formal closure of the project, securing sign-off or approval from the clients, stakeholders, and sponsors. The process often includes:

  • project delivery
  • reflection
  • archiving project documentation
  • releasing the team.

In addition to these phases, project planning and implementation needs to incorporate adopting the services and products being provided, along with integrating them into business as usual and supporting benefit realisation.

Six Principles of PRiSM

The 6 principles of PRiSM have been derived from the United Nations Global Compact’s Ten Principles, Earth Charter, and ISO:26000, Guidance on Corporate Social Responsibility (UN 2010). These principles are outlined in Figure 25 (Madhavji and Schafer 1991; GPM 2013, 2019; Carboni et al. 2018):

Figure 25. PRiSM principles, by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou, licensed under CC BY (Attribution) 4.0

PRiSM principles

  1. Commitment and accountability. This principle outlines the importance of the rights of all individuals to a clean, healthy, and safe environment, along with equal access to opportunities, ethical suppliers, following rules of law and fair remuneration.
  2. Ethics and decision-making. Organisational ethics should support decision-making regarding principles identifying, mitigating, and preventing any adverse long-term or short-term environmental or societal impacts.
  3. Integrated and transparent. All aspects of governance, practice and reporting within an organisation need to consider the interdependence between environmental protection, economic development, and social integrity.
  4. Principle and values-based. This principle encourages improving the use and development of resources and technologies to preserve and enhance natural resources.
  5. Social and ecological equity. Demographic research and data analytics can help support organisations to understand various levels of human vulnerability and ecologically sensitive areas.
  6. Economic prosperity. Organisations should establish combined objectives and financial strategies which balance the needs required to support stakeholders and shareholders, along with the long-term needs of the organisation and future generations.

Through the application of PRiSM, organisations can use a principles-based approach to support sustainability.

Key characteristics of PRiSM

Within PRiSM there are 4 key characteristics:

1. Ingrained social and environmental project objectives. Through incorporating social and environmental objectives as part of each project, organisations are better prepared to track, monitor, and control their sustainability activities (GPM 2013, 2019). This helps organisations to identify key areas for improvements, while also providing increased levels of accountability and transparency for their sustainability goals.

2. Defined Sustainability Management Plan. Using PRiSM, every project requires a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP), which is used to outline how the above objectives will be met. The SMP defines the plan and monitors outcomes, ensuring strategic alignment of the activities (GPM 2013, 2019; Carboni et al. 2018). The SMP includes:

    • introduction/executive summary
    • sustainability objectives
    • performance indicators
    • roles and responsibilities
    • activities and tasks
    • environmental impact assessment
    • risk management
    • sustainability metrics.

3. Undertaking impact analysis. An impact analysis is a necessary component of all PRiSM projects. It outlines the objectives, what will be measured, and the impact on the P5 elements (People, Planet, Prosperity, Processes, and Products). The analysis looks at the end-to-end project, ensuring all activities, including changes and maintenance, are considered (Madhavji and Schafer 1991; GPM 2013 2019; Carboni et al. 2018). This assesses, evaluates, and encourages the improvement of all tasks and activities within the project to support equality, diversity, environmental sustainability, etc.

4. Using Green Vendor Scorecards. External contracts are just as important as internal processes – there needs to be an alignment with the organisation’s sustainability objectives and strategies. Using a Green Vendor Scorecard supports organisations to assess and evaluate the sustainability strategies of an organisation (GPM 2013, 2019). The criteria included within the scorecards can meet the needs and requirements of the organisation and project. They can use both qualitative and quantitative evaluation metrics.

PRiSM Pros

There are several advantages to using the PRiSM method to support green project management, including:

  • reduction of environmental and social impacts
  • ensuring sustainability measures are implemented
  • specific plans outlining how to implement
  • stakeholder and organisational accountability and transparency.

PRiSM Cons

Although there are many positives to using PRiSM, there are some disadvantages to the method, including:

  • ongoing organisational collaboration, transparency, and support
  • requires strategic alignment at all levels
  • often requires a considerable number of resources
  • financially intensive
  • requires detailed and in-depth monitoring and controlling.

In sum, PRiSM project management is a green principles-based approach. The approach focuses on incorporating both social and environmental objectives into each project completed. This encourages organisations to monitor and control their activities and progress towards sustainability. Within a project, applying PRiSM can support the identification of key improvements and next steps in the organisation’s sustainability.

Benefits Realisation: delivering the benefits the customer expects

The Benefit Realisation project management method is an approach used to identify, implement, and measure benefits. The approach requires the project to define and implement the expected benefits early and ensure that they are represented in the outcomes (Melton et al. 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013; Zwikael and Chih 2014; PMI 2019). Benefits Realisation can be used to support project management (as a tool) or as a standalone methodology.

To achieve the desired benefits during the project, Benefits Realisation management needs to be considered or documented as an additional component or activity within the project plan. This activity is used to determine how requirements and deliverables can be measured as benefits (Melton et al 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013; Zwikael and Chih 2014; PMI 2019). To identify a benefit, it needs to be tangible. Benefits need to be transitioned into use and benefits realisation should be identified and supported by the sponsor.

Benefit Realisation management for organisational improvement

Organisations can apply Benefit Realisation management to the broader organisation or business as required, without implementing a project (Melton et al. 2011; PMI 2019). There are 5 steps within the Benefit Realisation management process, outlined in Figure 26 and documented in detail below.

Figure 26. Benefits Realisation management 5-step process for organisational improvement, by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou, licensed under CC BY (Attribution) 4.0

Step 1. Benefit realisation management plan

This step involves developing an overarching plan for how to implement Benefit Realisation management within an organisation. Due to the cyclical nature of the following 3 steps, the management plan needs to provide a clear structure on how to implement Benefit Realisation management. This will include:

  • stakeholder communication and engagement plan
  • measurement and evaluation requirements
  • identification processes
  • benchmarking estimates and baseline levels
  • overview of the approach used within the organisation.

Step 2. Benefit identification and structure

This step involves identifying the benefits and structure provided for their implementation. Identification requires a description of the benefits, the key steps required to implement, primary stakeholders, the baseline current state, and benchmarking the future goal state where possible.

Step 3. Benefit realisation plan

This step documents the realisation plan process, whereby each benefit identified will be outlined in detail, including:

  • schedule or timeline
  • the change to be implemented
  • budget
  • roles and responsibilities
  • how the change will be implemented
  • key tasks, activities, documents, and steps
  • risks and issues
  • metrics (for example, baselines and benchmarks)
  • quality assurance process
  • review periods.

Step 4. Change implementation

This step involves implementing the plan created in Step 3. The process of implementation includes:

  • completion of tasks, activities, documentation, and steps
  • status reporting (schedule, budget, scope, quality, and benefits)
  • team performance measurement
  • risk register completion (intervention when needed)
  • quality assurance.

Cycle back when new benefit opportunities are identified.

Step 5. Benefit realisation

This step involves the realisation or achievement of the identified benefits as outlined within the plan. Evaluation occurs post change implementation, which is used to support the organisation’s understanding of the outcomes achieved.

Benefit Realisation management life cycle

Within the Benefit Realisation management life cycle there are 6 phases. These are outlined in Figure 27 and detailed below.


Figure 27. Benefit Realisation management life cycle, by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou, licensed under CC BY (Attribution) 4.0


Phase 1. Identify and quantify

Phase 1 is the initial gathering of information and the identification of the different benefits (PMI 2019; Melton et al 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013). This requires assessing the proposed project deliverables to understand key areas of interest or benefits. Questions include:

  • What is the project aiming to achieve?
  • What is the desired end state?
  • What is the current situation?
  • How does this work align with the organisational strategic objectives?
  • Who are the stakeholders? How can we engage with them to support the Benefit Realisation management process?

After answering these questions, 2 key documents need to be created (PMI 2019):

  • Benefit profiles: this is the documentation and description of each benefit, how they relate to one another and what project deliverable they will be achieved through. Each profile should include:

a unique project identifier
title of the benefit
detailed benefit description
owner of the benefit
timeline for implementation
measures for success or failure
risks associated with the benefit or deliverable
key deliverables.

  • Benefit maps: this is the documentation of the different benefits and how they link to specific deliverables, changes, and each other. They are created in collaboration with business stakeholders and are used to support understanding of critical deliverables or tasks within the project. These maps should be sequential and built upon in phases 2 and 3.

Phase 2. Value and appraise

Phase 2 can be completed as part of phase 1; however, the purpose of this phase is to understand in detail the different benefits and their relationships to one another, business, strategies, and deliverables within the project (PMI 2019). Within this phase, 4 key tasks need to be undertaken:

  • Business case. This should outline in detail the components of the deliverable and the benefits which link to it. It should be specific, in terms of how measurement will occur, looking at what the current state is and how the deliverable will achieve the desired end state (or support it).
  • Baseline measures. This is the documentation of what the current state is and what will be used to measure the changes/deliverables and benefits.
  • Benefit targets or benchmarks. This is the development of targets or benchmarks for the benefits to achieve. These need to be specific, measurable, tangible, realistic and timely. These benchmarks need to link back to the baseline measures.
  • Stakeholder consultation. Use stakeholder consultation to understand the current needs and expectations of stakeholders. Analysis should be conducted to explore the impact of changes to stakeholders.

These tasks are often documented within an overarching benefits framework document. This document provides an overview of the benefits to be achieved within the project. It outlines standards, definitions, descriptions, and an overall plan for management (PMI 2019). Key components include:

  • benefit maps
  • measurement and evaluation rules, guidelines, and methods
  • business case
  • baseline measures and targets for benefits
  • type or category of benefits
  • stakeholder register
  • risk register.

Phase 3. Planning

Phase 3 involves planning how the benefits, changes or deliverables will be achieved within the project. This phase is closely linked to the documentation completed in phases 1 and 2, as planning will be completed on those benefits previously identified (PMI 2019; Melton et al 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013). Additionally, the planning phase should outline the benefits in relation to specific outcomes or deliverables, establish accountable and responsible parties for benefits, and specific timeframes/schedules (PMI 2019). Key documents within this phase include:

  • Benefits realisation plan: used to outline the benefits and arrangements to justify and achieve the benefits, this document includes:

schedule or timeline for benefit realisation
management of resources
risk management
change management
reporting requirements
target and forecasted improvements.

  • Benefit management plan: overarching document used to set out the approach, methods, processes, and policies used to support the implementation of project benefits. This document includes:

benefit identification process
definitions of benefit types or categories
roles and responsibilities
definitions of benefits, measures, and approaches
benefit mapping techniques and approaches

  • Visibility process: this process involves sharing the overarching project vision or goals, to provide clarity and understanding to stakeholders, project team members, and clients as to why the project is occurring.

Phase 4. Realisation phase or execution phase

This phase involves monitoring, controlling, tracking, and reporting the plan. The realisation phase is based on implementing changes, completing tasks and activities, and tracking against the plan to optimise benefits. Additionally, this phase supports the benefit evaluation (PMI 2019; Melton et al 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013).

To achieve benefits realisation, in phase 3 projects need to have documented planning the ownership of each benefit. This provides an understanding of who will be responsible for what component (PMI 2019; Melton et al 2011; Sopko and Demaria 2013).

During this phase, the benefit realisation management plan will be implemented. The activities within the plan often include:

  • achieving benchmarks outlined with the plan
  • completing an organisational capability assessment, planning improvements to capability development and implementing these improvements
  • knowledge sharing
  • building in ongoing training and support mechanisms.

Phase 5. Review results or monitoring and controlling

This phase supports the execution phase (phase 4), by focusing on the quality of the outcomes achieved. Additionally, the phase enables monitoring how the outcomes are tracking compared to the baseline (PMI 2019). Within this phase, change and risk management are addressed:

  • Change management: process for implementing changes that arise during the execution phase. The change management process includes:
    • Change management register, outlining: change description, date of change, impacts of change (schedule, scope, budget, quality, benefits), approver, and approval documented.
    • Baseline refreshment in response to the changes approved within the register.
    • Status updates which reflect the progress to plan and changes that occurred.
  • Risk and issues management: used to respond to risks and issues as they arise.
    • The risk register outlines:

risk description
impact and influence rating
risk rating
mitigation strategy
date of risk
person who identified risk

Phase 6. Review or closure

This phase is the conclusion of the project, where all the benefit realisation components are transitioned back to the business-as-usual teams (where required). Within phase 6 there needs to be a focus on capability development in the business areas taking over the work, and documentation of lessons learned during the application of the Benefit Realisation management process (PMI 2019).

Documentation used within phase 6 includes:

  • Handover document: this document should outline what business as usual areas need to do to maintain the benefit realisation post project. The document should outline who is responsible for what component and the frequency of reviews.
  • Closure document: where handover is not required, a closure document is used to finalise the project. The document will call out benefits realised, deliverables provided and where these live within the business as usual. Review periods will be allocated post closure to ensure the process is followed and maintained.
  • Evaluation of benefits: this evaluation will assess the benefits as they were identified and documented in the initial phases, in comparison to what was implemented. Any additional benefits which were identified throughout the project will be evaluated in the same manner. The document should be shared with stakeholders and clients to highlight the outcomes of the project.
  • Register of benefits: a central register used to document all the benefits within the project. Where benefit realisation management is applied more broadly, these benefits can be added to the overarching organisational benefit repository.
  • Lessoned learned register: documentation of what worked and what did not work during the project. This should include the recommended mitigation strategies.

Benefits realisation management compared to traditional project management life cycle

Table 6. Benefits realisation management compared to traditional project management life cycle

  Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5
Traditional Project management •   Initiation •   Planning and design •    Execution of project management plan •    Monitor and control •     Closure
Benefits Realisation management •   Benefit Identification

•   Value and appraise

•   Plan benefits •    Execution of benefits management plan •    Monitor and optimise •     Realise and evaluate

Table 6 outlines the similarities between the phases across the Benefits Realisation management and traditional project management approaches. This also highlights how these two approaches can be used simultaneously. As outlined in Figure 27, there are 6 phases commonly found within Benefit Realisation management; however, the benefit identification and value and appraisal phases (phases 1 and 2) can be combined. Therefore, Benefit Realisation management can be used as a project management approach in isolation, or it can be supported by traditional project management.


There are some advantages to applying Benefits Realisation management to projects, including:

  • The organisation works towards a common objective, and the goals are set and shared across the organisation. This level of transparency helps team members work towards these shared outcomes.
  • Accountability is established for each benefit. There is a responsible and accountable person attributed to each benefit within the project. As a result, it is clear who will drive deliverables and outcomes associated with it.
  • Business case and project documents are living. These documents are updated as required, and updates can respond to market conditions, organisational requirements, or technology innovations.
  • Change is encouraged. As the documentation is living, change during the projects to increase benefit realisation is encouraged.
  • Benefits are agreed upon collaboratively. All project team members, clients and stakeholders are involved in the identification and prioritisation of benefits.


There are some disadvantages to applying Benefits Realisation, including:

  • There is no defined governance around benefits. There can be complexities associated with the level of governance required to record and report on the progress of benefit realisation. This can make the process difficult to follow.
  • Benefits are not standard or comparable. There is no standardised process for identifying or implementing benefits, and this makes it challenging to progress.
  • Accountability for benefits is misplaced. Although accountability is established early on for each benefit, when people move roles or portfolios, there can be a disconnect between who is responsible for which benefit.
  • Benefits are not verifiable. Not all benefits created can be measured. Where they are not tangible, they can be difficult to implement and follow.
  • Scope creep. Due to the encouragement of change, scope creep happens quickly and often. A good project manager is required to maintain momentum, encourage change while also keeping the scope on track.

In summary, Benefit Realisation management is a process which involves identifying, planning, measuring, and tracking the benefits within a project. These benefits form key parts of the project’s deliverables or outcomes. The aim of the approach is to implement specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely benefits. Due to the focus on benefits within this project management approach, decision-makers and project managers are better able to allocate resources, determine criticality of tasks and deliverables, and achieve outcomes.

Test your knowledge

Key Takeaways

  • PRiSM ensures that an organisation leverages its existing structure, and that benefits include horizontal and vertical improvements, including a significant requirement for sustainability.
  • PRiSM is defined as a green project methodology.
  • Within a project, applying PRiSM can support the identification of key improvements and next steps in the sustainability of the organisation.
  • The Benefit Realisation project management method is an approach used to identify, implement, and measure benefits.
  • Organisations can apply Benefit Realisation management to the broader organisation or business as required, without implementing a project.
  • Accountability established for each benefit is one of the key benefits of Benefit Realisation project management method.


Carboni J, Duncan W, Gonzalez M, Milsom P and Young M (2018) Sustainable project management: the GPM reference guide, GPM Global, United States of America.

Green Project Management (2013) ‘PRiSM’, GPN website, accessed 3 August 2022. https://greenprojectmanagement.org/prism-methodology

Green Project Management (2019) The GPM P5TM standard for sustainability in project management, Green Project Management, United States of America.

Madhavji NH and Schafer W (1991) ‘Prism-methodology and process-oriented environment’, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 17(12):1270–1283, doi: 10.1109/32.106987.

Melton T, Iles-Smith P, Yates L and Yates J (2011) Project benefits management: linking projects to the business, Elsevier Science, Netherlands.

‎Project Management Institute (PMI) (2019) Benefits realization management: a practice guide,  Project Management Institute, United States.Sopko JA and Demaria A (2013). ‘Benefits management: how Siemens focuses on benefits to accelerate value delivery’, paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2013—North America, New Orleans, LA, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA.

United Nations (UN) (2010) UN global compact management model, United Nations, Switzerland.

Zwikael O and Chih Y-Y (2014) ‘Project benefit management: formulation and appraisal of target benefits’, paper presented at Project Management Institute Research and Education Conference, Phoenix, AZ, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA.


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Management Methods for Complex Projects Copyright © 2022 by Carmen Reaiche and Samantha Papavasiliou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.