I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2006 with a degree in Politics. Following a brief stint as a political researcher for the Scottish Government, I decided that a career in government ma...
Murray Smith, Consultant
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Home > Services > Programme Turnaround Consulting
Sometimes the bad news is unexpected – the status goes from green, green, green straight to red. Other times it’s the creeping pressure of a plan that gets constantly re-planned for just one more month.
Whatever the symptoms – underperformance or relationship breakdown with your suppliers, a programme that seems to have lost sight of its original rationale or benefits, dysfunctional team or governance, or just taking too long and costing too much – we can help you identify and fix the real root causes and refocus the programme on its overall goal.
We are committed to helping our clients with their toughest challenges and we are often the go-to people for our clients when delivery of their toughest transformational changes runs into trouble. Our people are all experienced practitioners who can apply the practical experience that only comes from delivering transformational change for a living.
We’re not programme auditors, and we don’t believe in a box-ticking approach. We’re prepared to come off the fence and give you an honest opinion about what to do, rather than constantly hedge bets as some other firms do when they’re more interested in managing their risk than yours.
We have been involved in many turnaround situations over the years and we know what it takes to bring a programme back from the brink and set it on course for success. This is hugely challenging, yet it is one of the most satisfying things we do for our clients.
The bigger and more complex a programme is, the more likely it will have occasional difficulties, tensions, hiccups, and setbacks. But when do the natural bumps and grinds of a big transformation turn into something serious enough to require a significant course correction or turnaround? In our experience, some tell-tale signs might include:
Strategic Rationale and Outcomes Focus
Approach, Plans and Delivery Rigour
Leadership and Engagement
Joined Up and Experienced Team
These are some of the classic signals that a programme is not in control and on course – a significant correction or turnaround may be necessary. Understanding the root causes and helping you to address them is what we focus on when we take on such a task.
Our starting point is to work out exactly what the truth of the programme is – by gathering evidence rather than just opinion, and by leveraging our experience of similar situations elsewhere.
For example, a programme may be running hard towards a launch date but may be struggling to close out the last mile of testing or business acceptance. Where exactly are they? Is it a case of battening down the hatches and keeping going, or is this a sign of a more sophisticated problem that requires a different way of thinking?
If you’re making decisions based on the wrong view of where you are, or simply keep doing what you are doing, you are likely to compound the problem. That’s why it’s so important to form an evidence-based view of where you actually are. It’s a critical first step that gives you not only a clear view of the facts but also a common set of evidence around which people can gather and start to rebuild a shared sense of team and purpose. An independent fact-based reference point is for everyone.
We then help you to align the programme sponsors and executive team to acknowledge where we are, so we can have constructive and realistic conversations about priorities. This often involves uncomfortable trade-offs between scope, time and money.
We are very sensitive to commitments that may have been made previously and work with you to reach balanced decisions based on options grounded in reality. We’ll help you bring sponsors and executives on the journey.
Once we are clear on what’s important what we’re now aiming for, we can help you re-organise for success. This may involve tuning the existing organisation to get the right people in the right roles, or it may involve a more fundamental organisational change involving going back to first principles around capability, accountability and supplier choices. This may involve reevaluating, and in some cases restructuring, supplier relationships and commercial arrangements.
Re-building a team requires more that drawing a new organisation chart. In distressed programmes, we often find teams operating with ‘crisis management as the norm’. We will refocus this energy on the programmes goals and priorities.
Rigorous but efficient programme processes, delivery predictability, crystal clear accountability, common goals and robust leadership will need to be re-established and built into the team’s DNA. We will lead by example and re-set the bar.
Regardless of scale, we aim to break down the complexity of the situation and identify a set of relatively simple metrics and steps that everyone can understand and align around – from the team on the ground to business and IT sponsors. This common view of progress and success helps to drive accountability and keep focus on the important things.
The biggest unplanned cost on a programme is often slippage in the dates. It’s a brutal example of the adage that time is money. So it goes without saying that the faster things can be brought back under control, the better.
We typically bring a very small team, maybe just one or two highly experienced people. We’ll break down the problem, help the executive team understand and align around the options and agree a way forward, and refocus the team. We often also get involved in very targeted short term roles to issue-bust specific gnarly challenges facing the programme. For a relatively small cost you get a big return from this kind of involvement.
We’ve worked with many of the world’s leading companies on their most challenging transformation programmes – from early vision, strategy and business case, right through the hard yards of delivery. This gives us the hard-won experience and insight to help.
We are committed to helping our clients with their toughest challenges and we are often the go-to people for our clients when delivery of their toughest transformational changes runs into trouble. We’ve been involved in many turnaround situations over the years and we know what it takes to bring a programme or programme back from the brink and set it on course for success.
This is hugely challenging, yet it is one of the most satisfying things we do for our clients. This isn’t about a programme audit, or a box ticking approach. Many consulting firms have an advisory practice, where the people only ‘advise’ rather than ‘do’. Our people are all experienced practitioners who have the practical experience of being in the programme delivery hot seat themselves. This means they can apply practical experience, understand the real content of the issues, and empathise with a programme team that is in a bad place.
We’re prepared to come off the fence and give you an honest opinion about what to do, rather than constantly hedge bets as some other firms do when they’re more interested in managing their risk than yours. With our ‘low volume, high value’ model, we won’t overwhelm with large teams or take months to produce results. Typically, only using one or two highly experienced and high calibre people, we can assess and turn around major programmes in weeks.
Above all, this is about sound judgement – doing enough analysis and drawing on our experience to help our clients make a confident call on what’s right for them. We work as close knit part of your team, doing the work ‘with you, not to you’, and getting to results that have real ownership and buy-in.
To read more about the services we can provide to define and deliver the right change for your business, click here.
When a programme is in distress, you have to seek evidence and have empathy. You need to form a clear fact-based understanding of the true status and of what choices actually exist. Alongside this, you must have sensitivity and strong leadership skills to gather and re-galvanise the team for success. It’s about the head and the heart.
Projects fail for many different reasons. So how can IT managers spot a troubled project? And what steps can they take to support the...
We reviewed a major IT programme and then lead the implementation of the turnaround activities.
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