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Closing the gap between complexity and capability: planning for successful programme delivery

A fast-changing, increasingly sophisticated business environment means your organisation is likely to face the challenge of delivering transformation programmes that are highly complex, or ‘out of the ordinary’ – possessing characteristics that make them different to anything you have had to deliver before. 

In these situations, any gap between what you are able to do well in terms of delivering change, and what needs to be done to deliver a particular programme successfully, represents a risk. Closing the gap between complexity and capability is the key to delivering the transformation successfully. 

Understanding what makes your transformation programme complex – and where your change delivery capability stands in relation to this – provides the insight you need to plan an effective delivery strategy. Take account of speed, scale, interactions, innovation and environment to make your assessment. 

Weighing up complexity and capability

Speed: An immovable deadline, a reduced timeframe as a result of failed earlier attempts or a requirement to deliver change over an extended period (more than 18 months) all increase programme complexity. The first consideration in planning a delivery strategy is whether you have a team you can mobilise quickly to support the initiative.

PA helped The Home Office create the 80,000 strong Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in just six weeks. Our work included ensuring the transition of Home Office functions, staff and resources to the new ministry, with minimal operational disruption. 

Scale: If the programme is so big that it affects your entire organisation or costs more than any change you’ve implemented before, it’s important to consider whether you have enough people to commit to the programme. You may need to consider stopping other projects within your portfolio in order to create the capacity you require to deliver. 

The Bank of England needed to deliver change that touched every part of its organisation when it established the new Prudential Regulation Authority. PA helped the Bank deliver its most complex ever change programme, which involved changing where and how 1,200 of the Bank’s existing staff worked.

Interactions: Lots of people and groups with an interest in the programme’s outcomes ramps up complexity on any change initiative. Where the programme involves changes to the way people work, the complexity is magnified.  Having change managers who are experienced in engaging with stakeholders on this type of change can make a big difference to successful delivery.

We helped the London Metal Exchange (LME) generate £5.6 million of annual benefits for itself and its members, through supporting the development and implementation of systems and processes to capitalise on new revenue opportunities quickly.

Innovation: Does the success of your programme depend on leading-edge technology or pioneering commercial arrangement?  Will the requirements of the programme change as new solution features emerge? If so, you will need people with expertise in deploying innovative approaches. 

This is why the MOD came to PA for help developing an explosive-device detection system to protect UK forces in Afghanistan. Our ground-breaking technical solution maximizes protection for operatives, while a new type of commercial arrangement, built around closer collaboration with suppliers, helps the MOD get better value for money.

Environment: An environment where there may be lots of change during the lifetime of the programme – perhaps due to a change in ownership of the business or the introduction of new regulations – will put additional pressure on your delivery resources. Will you need to reprioritize your change portfolio to cope? Should you consider developing your in-house capability and skills to respond?

We supported the Financial Services Authority (FSA) with its project and programme delivery assurance work, helping to ensure that its most complex programmes were designed and delivered effectively.

Closing the gap

Measuring the complexity of your change programme against your delivery capability will enable you to reach the right decision on how best to fill any gap between the two. Options range from recruiting the people you need, to bringing in transformation experts to support delivery or assurance of your programme.

Find out more about our work in IT assurance and delivery.

Contact the IT assurance and delivery team

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