Intangible Project Benefits: “Liar, liar, pants on fire”​.

If there are two words that send a shiver down people’s spine as they write (or read) a business case it “intangible benefits”.

Benefits management has become the rock star of the project management world over the last few years. The needle has been moving, we’ve seen a global certification launched by APMG International in 2012, called Managing Benefits (refreshed in 2014); then in 2016 we saw more traction when PMI released some awesome thought leadership reports.

Geting benefits management right is one of hardest things to achieve, and very few actually achieve any degree of success. One common problem is getting to a point of consistent terminology and agreement around the types of allowable benefits. People call them soft benefits, hard benefits, tangible benefits, intangible benefits, financial or non-financial, strategic, non-strategic, fat, thin, big, small… you get the message, it’s confusing.

Over the years, I’ve had fun advising many types of corporate portfolios of projects, ranging from a little $50m portfolio to a bigger $20 billion portfolio. No matter how big and hairy they are, one thing that trips everyone up are these two words… “Intangible benefits.”

I’m one of those “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” kind of people. So whenever I see a business case containing a shopping list of intangible benefits that are ’strategically aligned’, my nose twitches because I smell something bad; and when I smell something bad, there’s usually something bad nearby.

What do the experts say? 

Whilst I’m very proud to be one of the first certified practitioners in the Managing Benefits certification, I thought I would get my buddy Steve Jenner to do a cameo on this article and answer some silly questions for us about “Intangible Benefits”.

A bit about Steve. Steve and I wrote the UK Government standard for project portfolio management, called Management of Portfolios. Steve is also one of the worlds’ leading minds on the subject of Benefits Management and wrote the globally recognized Managing Benefits certification.

Craig’s silly questions.

“Hi Steve, what are the first 5 words that come into your mind when I say Intangible Benefits?”

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

You can read the rest of this article on LinkedIn where Steve goes into more detail about Intangible Benefits




Craig Kilford is the Founder & CEO of – where you can find and review the best courses in the project management world using customer reviews written by fellow professionals.

Craig is also Co-Author of Management of Portfolios (MoP) (British Government standard for Project Portfolio Management), Author of Think P3O, Artist and a motivational keynote speaker on the subjects of organisational change, project portfolio management and creativity.

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