I graduated from Imperial College, London with a degree in Mining Geology, and then joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). After 6 years there, I moved to Berkeley. I have had the privilege of wo...
Juliet Armstrong, Partner
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Coordinating and controlling complex change
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The Post Office is part of the fabric of people’s lives in the UK, and it is currently undergoing a high visibility business transformation. Read about how we have helped coordinate and control this complex change programme to manage delivery risks and ensure the programme is a success.
With over 11,500 branches across the country and around 20 million customer visits a week, the Post Office is part of the fabric of people’s lives in the UK and is currently going through a significant business transformation. We have been working with its leadership team to coordinate and control this change to manage risks to delivery and help ensure the transformation is 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,” says Sue Barton, Strategy Director. “Berkeley has brought the right levels of experience and challenge and just as importantly the right approach to engaging with the organisation and commitment to build internal capability.”
Having recently become independent from Royal Mail, the Post Office is responding to 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. A major three-year business transformation is being delivered via a large number of different programmes and projects which amongst other things will transform the way the Post Office branch network operates, how it manages relationships with its customers and how its IT organisation delivers services.
The Executive Committee needed to be able to put their arms around these programmes without stifling them while at the same time ensuring that the individual programmes were joined up so that they complemented rather than conflicted with each other. We were asked by the Post Office to assess how best to coordinate and control the transformation delivery.
The heart of the solution was to strengthen the quality of executive level governance over the transformation. To this end, we recommended and oversaw the creation of a Transformation Board with clear accountability for delivering the transformation and with clear links to the individual programme boards. This Transformation Board enabled the importance of senior management really taking responsibility for the implementation of change to be driven home.
To provide essential coordination and support we also set up a small experienced strategic programme management office (SPMO). Working as the “engine” of the Transformation Board, the SPMO focuses on defining, developing and coordinating the overall road map for the transformation. It works closely with individual programme teams - challenging and supporting them in equal measure to make sure they are doing the right thing and delivering in line with plans, costs and benefits. It oversees, for example, on-going assessments across individual programmes so that it’s quicker and easier to make improvements and share best practice. The experience and independence of the SPMO is vital here, as is the operational flexibility it shows when working across a range of different types of programme.
The SPMO is staffed by three key resources. Two of these roles were initially staffed by our consultants with a plan for the Post Office to resource these at the right time. Two of the three roles are now staffed internally with individuals we helped recruit and on-board.
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 experience and drive to coordinate complex change is helping the Post Office to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunity for benefits realisation.
The Post Office management team have been able to make more effective use of their time, by removing duplication of effort on individual programmes and, crucially, by having a clear picture and ownership of the overall transformation.
Through helping the Post office coordinate and control their transformation programme, we have also supported the development of their capability to manage complex change as a part of their core business longer term. This can be as simple as knowing the right questions to ask but it can pay real dividends for future change programmes.
As Sue Barton says, moving into year two of the transformation, “A myriad of interconnected projects, programmes and business as usual initiatives are now underway 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 organisation. Berkeley have helped define pragmatic approaches to coordinate the transformation while bringing the organisation with us and building the internal capabilities we need to do this ourselves longer term.”
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