Coordinating and controlling complex change
With 12,000 branches across the country and over 20 million customer visits a week, the Post Office is part of the fabric of people’s lives in the UK and has recently been undertaking a significant business transformation. Berkeley worked with its leadership team to help them coordinate and control this transformation activity to help ensure the transformation was a success.
“Given the scale of the transformation and the complexity of the changes the Post Office was facing, it was vital we strengthened our ability to manage this effectively. Berkeley brought the right levels of experience and challenge and just as importantly the right approach to engaging with the organization and commitment to build internal capability.”
STRATEGY DIRECTOR, POST OFFICE
The Post Office was facing a number of strategic challenges to its long-term success - from changes in its core markets (for example, the move of customers online), to increasing competition from new providers and customers with ever higher expectations.
In response it undertook a major three-year business transformation delivered via a large number of different programs and projects. Amongst other things these were transforming the way its branch network operated, how it managed relationships with its customers and how its IT organization delivers successfully.
Although well equipped to manage business as usual operations, the Post Office had less experience driving through business transformations on such a scale, with so many moving parts, or with such far-reaching implications. Their Executive Committee (ExCo) recognized they would need support to mitigate key risks and realize the full benefits of the transformation, so they called us in to help.
We worked closely with the Strategy Director and her ExCo colleagues to assess how best to coordinate and control the transformation. The ExCo needed to be able to put their arms around the programs without stifling them while at the same time ensuring that the individual programs were joined up so that they complemented rather than conflicted with each other.
An important part of the solution was to strengthen the quality of governance over the transformation. To this end, we recommended and oversaw the creation of an executive level Transformation Board with clear accountability and responsibility for delivering the transformation alongside clear links to the individual program boards. This Board enabled us to drive home the importance of senior management really taking responsibility for the implementation of change.
“We combine our experience of how best to manage and coordinate change at scale to deliver for senior management with our ability to work as one with your program teams to ensure the management of your change portfolio is effective.”
MARK STAFFORD, PARTNER
To provide the critical coordination and support needed we set up a small experienced strategic program management office (SPMO). Working as the “engine” of the Transformation Board, the SPMO was initially staffed by three of our consultants with a plan for the Post Office to take up these roles as part of building their own internal capability.
The SPMO focused on defining, developing and coordinating the overall road map for the transformation as well as working very closely with individual program teams - challenging and supporting them in equal measure to make sure they were delivering in the right way and in line with benefits and costs. The SPMO, for example, oversaw ongoing confidence assessments across all the individual programs so that it became quicker and easier to make improvements and share best practice. The experience and independence of the SPMO was vital here, as was the operational flexibility it showed when working across a range of different types of program.
The Post Office management team was able to make more effective use of their time, by removing duplication of effort on individual programs and, crucially, by having a clear picture and ownership of the transformation.
Transformation on this scale inevitably comes with considerable risks – the risks of not delivering, of spending money unwisely, of doing things poorly in an uncoordinated way. Putting in place a small high impact SPMO with the wherewithal and drive to coordinate complex change enabled the Post Office to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunity for full benefits realization.
Through helping the Post office coordinate and control their transformation program, we also helped build their long-term capability to manage complex change as a part of their core business capability. This starts as something as simple as knowing the right questions to ask but will pay real dividends for future change programs.
A myriad of interconnected projects, programs and business-as-usual initiatives were managed to deliver the transformation with the scale of change driving very significant levels of investment as well as resource commitment from all parts of the organization. Berkeley helped define smart, pragmatic approaches to effectively coordinate the transformation while bringing the organization with us and building the internal capabilities we needed to do this ourselves longer term.”
STRATEGY DIRECTOR, POST OFFICE