Good - I can articulate the benefits. The benefits are credible to me, as a project manager, and are credible to the management team. For example, benefits include reducing the cost of new customer acquisition.
Bad - Perceptions about the reality of benefits vary. No one, including the project team, has had time to quantify benefits. For example, the benefits are vague like improved customer service. For example, the benefits are in dispute: Some groups challenge that the goal of reduced elapsed time through the manufacturing process is achievable. It doesn't matter whether or not you, as a project manager, agree with this point of view. However, without some consensus, it's difficult for the project team to know what to work on or what's a priority.
Ugly - I don't see anyone accountable for securing the benefits. Ensuring that the benefits promoted at project inception will actually be realized is not receiving any attention. For example, the project plan is dominated by software and computing infrastructure deliverables, not good. Ensuring that business benefits of the associated CRM application will actually be realized is assumed but not ensured.
Ask the project team to list the benefits.
Quantify benefits that can be quantified. Knowing the benefits enables the project team to effectively make the many trade-offs that every project demands. The absence of quantified benefits makes it difficult to know if a project should be approved in the first place. For example, staff time savings or reduced time for customer interactions from better performing applications are benefits that can be measured and quantified.
Link intangible benefits to key organization goals. Intangible benefits that can't be linked convincingly to key organization goals are nice-to-have benefits that likely don't deserve funding. For example, the intangible benefit of a new website that contains more content and improved navigation improves the customer experience and enhances brand value.
Dubious projects need to be cancelled. You can recognize dubious projects by the project team's inability to create a compelling list of tangible and intangible benefits. For example, proposed projects where it's difficult to identify a project sponsor, where the benefits sound really vague or distant and where the size of the projects is difficult to estimate need to be cancelled before they soak up valuable resources.
Successful project managers lead the project team in producing benefits analysis deliverables.