The Client situation
With a need to modernise its core banking platform, our client incepted a large technology transformation programme. After a few months the replacement technology was selected, a Delivery Partner was appointed to manage the design, delivery and implementation, and an Assurance Partner was appointed to provide critical oversight over a programme that was larger and more complex than anything they had attempted before.
What the client needed
Early experience with the Assurance Partner left the client slightly disappointed. They realised that they needed:
- Support that was more embedded alongside delivery, providing a more continuous and supportive presence
- Feedback that was less about format reporting against generic checklists and more about providing insightful and actionable recommendations that were in tune with the needs of the Executive and the delivery team
- Greater breadth and depth in the assessment, with more attention being paid to improvement proposals as well as the critique of delivery and performance
- A service which, whilst independent of the programme, was collaborative with regard to the achievement of programme outcomes
These requirements emerged during the initial conversations between PiC and members of the client Executive. Importantly, as well as clarifying what the Executive needed, the discussions clarified how we were to work together.
What we did
Our scope was broader than that of a traditional Assurance Partner, encompassing is it did, the activities underpinning the more embedded and supportive way of working.
- Assurance of the delivery of the programme through the lifecycle, from initiation, scoping and shaping, through to go-live and warranty
- Assurance in particular of progress against plan, budget and quality; delivery and enablement of target outcomes; governance and control; sponsorship and leadership; overall capability to change; change approach and impact – including business-as-usual
- Provision of consequent reporting, and advice and support to address identified issues and risks
- Support to the development of organisation’s internal capability to assure delivery, and to actually deliver complex change
- The wider organisational context: specifically, watching for any potential adverse impacts on the programme of business-as-usual activity, and other significant change
Over a period of six months, and on the basis of our investigations and assessment, the Leadership brought the programme to a halt. It was subsequently redesigned in line with a better balance of risk, capability and ambition, re-mobilised and re-launched, and then later, successfully delivered. Our involvement was fundamental to this, providing:
- Objective findings and recommendations, backed up by our robust reference framework, our experience, and the many interviews and analyses that we performed
- Honest and constructive reporting that the Executive could understand, relate to and make decisions upon
- Changes in the management of the programme
- Clear challenges to the Delivery Partner that the Executive could act upon
- Much improved engagement between the programme and the functional groups within the Society
We always knew the fundamental importance of having a broad and deep Assurance Reference Model, which sets out what we would expect to see in a well-run programme of this type, at this stage in its development and in this type of client. We used our Assurance Reference Model to provide the robustness and completeness that both we and the Client could take comfort from.
In addition, we learned the importance of being embedded within the programme rather than being a periodic and often unwelcome visitor. We quickly gained the trust and respect of all parties, by being available, knowledgeable, supportive and sensitive to the difficult task the Executive had set themselves.
We learned that our experience should not be under-valued. We were able to back up our findings because we ‘have been there’ ourselves; we knew what was realistic and we knew the areas that would be most challenged. This meant that, when asked about degrees of risk, and to give a view on potential forward trajectory, we were able to give balanced, objective and realistically grounded opinion and advice.
Finally, we learned once again that the style of communication is so very important. We aligned our communication with the needs of the Client and the members of the Executive. The client knew that they had been overly ambitions and hadn’t prepared for this programme as completely as they might have done; they didn’t need to be told this by us. What they needed was insightful observations and recommendations that helped them stay in control and broadly, on plan.
What the client said
“PiC’s style is to digest, reflect and solve’
“They bring very complementary skills”
“They are calm, considered, honest, collaborative, insightful and challenging – in a good way”