Understanding the Benefits Dependency Network - A Key Tool for Project Management

September 15, 2023

In the realm of project management, understanding how different pieces of a project come together to deliver business value is paramount. The Benefits Dependency Network (BDN) is one such framework that helps teams map out these dependencies to ensure project success. But what is it exactly, and how can it benefit your project? Let's delve deeper.

2023 09 15

What is a Benefits Dependency Network?

The Benefits Dependency Network is a graphical representation that maps out the various elements, outcomes, and benefits expected from a project. This mapping outlines the dependencies between enablers, changes, and outcomes in a visual format. By creating a BDN, project managers and stakeholders can clearly see how each part contributes to the overall benefit and, by extension, the ultimate goals of the business.

The Components of a BDN

  • Enablers: These are the project's outputs or deliverables, such as new software or hardware, documentation, or training materials.

  • Changes: These represent the transition from the current state to a future state. This could include organizational changes, new processes, or behavioral shifts among employees.

  • Outcomes: These are the measurable improvements or advantages as a result of implementing the enablers and the changes. Outcomes may be qualitative or quantitative.

  • Benefits: These are the final advantageous results expressed in business terms. They often align directly with the organizational goals and objectives.

The Benefits of Using a Benefits Dependency Network

1. Clarity in Communication

One of the biggest challenges in project management is effective communication among stakeholders, team members, and external parties. A BDN offers a visual aid that simplifies complex interdependencies, thereby making it easier for everyone to understand the project's objective and the route to achieving it.

2. Prioritization of Tasks

BDNs help in deciding which tasks and activities are most critical for the realization of desired outcomes and benefits. This assists in resource allocation and prioritization, ensuring that the most crucial elements are attended to first.

3. Risk Mitigation

By outlining dependencies, a BDN allows for early identification of potential risks. If a particular enabler is delayed or compromised, you can quickly assess the impact this will have on the outcomes and benefits, allowing you to take corrective action proactively.

4. Alignment with Business Goals

BDNs help in maintaining focus on the organization's objectives. By consistently linking project activities and deliverables to business benefits, a BDN ensures that the project stays aligned with the overall business strategy.

5. Measurability

Because a BDN requires the definition of outcomes and benefits in measurable terms, it sets the stage for metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This helps in tracking the project’s success objectively.

6. Facilitates Change Management

Any project worth its salt will invariably introduce some form of change. A BDN explicitly outlines the changes needed to achieve benefits, making it easier to implement change management processes.

How to Create a Benefits Dependency Network

  1. Identify Objectives: Clearly define what you aim to achieve through the project.

  2. List Enablers: Identify all the outputs or deliverables of the project.

  3. Map Changes: Describe the changes that need to happen for the enablers to be effectively utilized.

  4. Outline Outcomes: Determine the results of these changes.

  5. Specify Benefits: Identify the benefits in business terms.

  6. Draw Dependencies: Connect these components to show how they interact and depend on each other.

  7. Review and Refine: Constantly update the BDN as the project progresses, taking into account new information and changes in circumstances.


A Benefits Dependency Network is not just a planning tool; it's a communication, prioritization, and strategy tool rolled into one. By adopting BDNs in your project management practice, you are setting the stage for clearer communication, more focused efforts, and ultimately, greater success.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn