Archive for category Transformation
A politically charged, but interesting read.
There has been much talk and many rumours throughout the Scottish IT community in recent months of shared services and new national governance arrangement for the provision of ICT services to Scotland’s public bodies. This opinion-piece is my personal opinion on what the approach might mean and reflects my own personal views; and I should point out that it is not necessarily representative of the position of my employers.
Looked at from the outside, the provision of ICT within the public sector might appear to the casual observer to be an unnecessarily complex and multifarious, almost haphazard collection of systems: rife with duplication and wasteful practice across too-many similar but independent organisations and infrastructures.
From within one of these organisations however the picture is different. From the perspective of an ICT manager in a council for example, the solutions that have been devised to enable the council to progress its business are appropriate and best-value to the organisation and have been developed in spite of resource and other external pressures.
The current situation as characterised by the external view is generally a result not of unsafe investments in ICT causing a disparity, but of ICT investments being driven by the structures of the public sector. Each organisation may or may not be getting best value from their ICT, but it is not possible to arrive at an across-the-sector, broad conclusion as to the efficacy of ICT provisions. Each organisation has had its own initial parameters and local priorities. The ICT solutions have addressed – and continue to address – these local needs.
When looked at from outside – and questionably viewing the public sector as a single entity – it is tempting to see the potential for congruence going unrealised as resulting from an almost deliberate even self-protectionist desire to fragment. To do so however is to ignore the historical perspective and the political reality. ICT support departments have responded to the demands of the business / service departments. Indeed, where cooperation has been attempted it has often been ICT managers that have initiated and sustained the drive, a case in point being the Modernising Government programme.
Where these programmes do not deliver it is very rarely as a result of ICT failure, nor that of the management of business / front line service departments. Instead it is due to the inability to converge business processes, priorities and practices into a common specification of requirements. This is generally possible under a single democratically elected imperative, but is not easy in cases where several organisations come together.
The result is Programme, not Project management. Programme Management is in perpetual danger of being used as a way to deflect away responsibility for delivery, while maintaining the illusion of progress. The local solutions to local problems end up waiting interminably for the centre to progress and the centre is frustrated by the inability of local partners to advance their delegated responsibilities to the programme.
The danger in establishing a national governance function for ICT is that this becomes a layer of stifling bureaucracy, squeezing out innovation and hindering local service delivery.
So – how to proceed?
First of all, realise that ICT is not the place to start. ICT is always one important element of a project, not the driver. It is an enabler for a business need. Start therefore, with the business need: redesign the structures of organisations and then analyse what ICT provision will suit this new structure.
There is a sense in emulating for example the Northern Irish model, that sets ICT standards and supports interoperability and cost savings where practical. Within the current set-up throughout Scotland however we would have to dismantle a lot of good work and useful infrastructure to achieve the theoretical blank slate that is required to get there.
Although there is a tempting long-term saving opportunity, in the short to medium period over the next 5 or 10 years, to treat ICT in isolation without a stand-back business analysis will be costly and potentially disastrous at a time when we should be saving money.
The problem of course is that doing it right takes a long time – a 10 year plan – and does not provide the immediate short-term savings that this time of austerity demands. In fact it will cost more in the short term as additional resources and experienced staff are required in the design and implementation phases.There is also the ‘elephant in the data centre’: that is, restructuring of goverment and public bodies – a political decision which would determine the course ahead more than any intermediate planning that might be undertaken. This would solve the problems surrounding local democratic accountability and provide the desire and funding to proceed.
My conclusion is that the ICT functions of public sector organisations are not self-contained units that can be considered as candidates for immediate sharing of services or for the introduction of a new governance arrangement. This is a project that should be carefully planned to ensure that Scotland has the best possible (and best-value) ICT provision into the future. Using the current financial crisis as a convenient excuse for a broad-sweep rationalisation with the dubious promise of savings would be selling snake-oil.
There is the suspicion, too, that such a move would be politically motivated, driven by the desire to privatise for profit rather than to improve service or best value.
While the principles of convergence and simplification make sense and we should plan in a more joined up fashion to achieve a better future picture, getting there is a complex and costly manouevre and is dependant on non-ICT drivers.
A summary of the Government’s plans and ambitions for the digital economy, published on 22 October 2010
See also: http://royhair.com/blog/2010/10/28/radical-scotland-report/
This paper is an independent analysis of the economic and social challenges facing Scotland’s public services, and how the radical reform of services through innovation could help to meet some of these challenges.
It argues that innovation – developing new approaches that are better at preventing and solving problems for and with citizens – is critical to making sustainable savings in public services and to ensuring a stronger, safer, healthier and more productive Scotland.
Laura Bunt and Michael Harris, with Ruth Puttick
See also: http://royhair.com/blog/2010/10/28/a-digital-ambition-for-scotland/
The strategy of portfolio consolidation based on disposal and renewal through new building investment is being severely tested in the current economic climate where disposal proceeds have receded along with cheap financing and revenue streams. Therefore strategy is now focussed on “squeezing the portfolio”, optimising what exists or cannot be exited, including subletting to the market, to outsourced suppliers or to charities, “mothballing” or de-servicing space (even demolition). There is also an increasing and irresistible movement within the public sector towards sharing space and resources through initiatives like Total Place.
This just seems to be the same type of technology that we use for our remote access tokens. The only possible difference might be that they are combining it with wireless access dongles so people can access the network from their laptops anywhere.
It’s promoting a technology solution but the other HR / H&S issues etc have still to be addressed.
This video looks at how Hampshire County Council has worked with Juniper Networks to implement a secure remote access solution called Hanstnet Passport. The passport system has reduced the need for travel and substantially saved on office space by enabling staff to work from home and multiple office locations.
Click here to view the video on the localgov.tv site: http://www.localgov.tv/HampshireCC
Working with Juniper Networks has also enabled the council to safeguard sensitive data stored on shared networks thereby improving collaboration with external partners without compromising security.
As so often, Charles Dickens, in skewering the foibles of Victorian society, highlights something that is still pertinent in our own lives. In Hard Times, here’s what Dickens wrote about the regulation of factory owners: “They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring children to school; they were ruined, when inspectors were appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make quite so much smoke.”
Read all of this post…
Salford City Council Future Search day
This isÂ Wakefield Worksmart video which was shown at theÂ Nomad Scotland Mobile & Flexible Working Conference in October.
Wakefield videoÂ Â NOTE: the music is atrocious!!
The video shows how Wakefield’s Worksmart programme looked at how the Council worked and allowed it to rationalise the number of buildings it utilises and how it transformed the way services are deliveredÂ NOTE: the music is atrocious!!Â
Free for non-commercial use
TeamSpeak is flexible, powerful, scalable software which enables people to speak with one another over the Internet. TeamSpeak consists of both client and server software. The server acts as a host to multiple client connections, capable of handling literally thousands of simultaneous users. This results in an Internet based conferencing solution that works in a variety of applications such as team mates speaking with one another while playing their favorite online game, facilitating inter-office communication among co-workers, or simply for personal communication with friends and family.
Last week I attended the Programme and Change Management (Benefits Realisation) event in Glasgow, organized by the Improvement Service. The day was attended by reps from all 32 Scottish LA’s. I was one of the very few IT bods in attendance, mostly it was change managers and corporate business folk. They looked at how to change council’s business practices in order to realize benefits and although in a sense the boat has sailed on this and real cuts are coming, a couple of the speakers were good enough to inspire debate.
Because it was relatively interesting (for this type of thing), I thought I’d share some notes with you (attached).
More information incl Peterborough Business Cases available at their Infobank website.
Programme and Change Management Event – Notes on two interesting speakers
- Presentation by Paul Tonks, Director of Transformation, Peterborough Council
Peterborough similar to medium sized Scottish LA: £230m budget and 6,500 staff.
Introduced Programme Management Office (PMO) and Transformation programme in 2006; on instigation of depute leader, with target of £24m savings over 3 years. Target achieved.
Seconded key staff to central PMO. Consultants / partners appointed: AMTEC and V4 Services via OGC catalyst framework.
6 staff in PMO + 6 consultants / partners / associates on a project by project basis. Plus 3 non-transformational people. 76 projects.
PT worked for V4 and was eventually seconded to work for Peterborough. Now he is Director of Transformation.
Established an Invest to Save fund of £1m. “Dragons Den” model for bids, with ROI < 3 years. To get a slice of the initial investment, the bidding SRO must immediately surrender the projected savings from their budget (this encourages success!). In reality it can take up to a year for this budget reduction to kick in. Only repeatable savings allowed. Staff engagement via this competition for ideas.
Growth and Infrastructure
Sneakily, they worked on the first project – “Manor Drive plc”- for 3 months behind the scenes – it’s success built trust that the model of providing savings would work. Also, they simply ignored all HR standards and internal policies to establish their Manor Park project. They found HR to be a barrier to progress, coming up with reasons not to proceed and ingrained attitudes were to work against rather than with the unions. Contracts were renegotiated without HR involvement and head of HR left the council. Unions were consulted and welcomed the changes.
Transformation is the integral tool for delivering Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). Business transformation programme means that savings are centrally apparent, no silos, and the investment-led approach means that there is no across-the-board slicing of budgets with a broad brush.
Manor Drive project brought together corporate back office services “into a single coherent structure”. Called it “delayering” the BO. Now extending across all services. Childrens Services has expressed interest and will be next for rollout. Changed BO into a business!
- Directors Group – overseers – chair: Director of Transformation (PT)
- Governance Board – manages all council projects > £50k (cap or rev). chair: head of Finance
- Savings Board – manages delivery of transformation projects, interventions etc. chair: Head of Customer Services
- Programme Team – chair : senior programme manager
Every project >£50k capital or revenue goes through the Project Gateway process.
All projects tracked in Verto system developed by Peterborough CC and TMI systems – it’s a big spreadsheet on the web, hosted and supported with structure and reporting. Seems simple and powerful. £3k pa for 20 seats, or £25k site-licence and £5k pa.
Also have a Performance Management system ,and although they use it for PI’s etc, this is not connected with the Transformation programme and PT was derogatory.
Speaking to PT, he revealed that to stuff all the people into Manor Drive, they used a monitoring tool from BT which monitored how long and when people were actually at their desks. They could use these figures to show that they could reduce the office space significantly and make savings. Also introduced agile and home working (renegotiated contracts ignoring HR).
Questions / answers session
PT said right from the start they stated that they would be making people redundant and redeploying people. The unions had been frustrated at the previous barriers to change and came on board. Where they previously saw services being outsourced for the wrong reasons (outsourcing risk / culpability rather than service improvement).
Peterborough have an ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) called City Services. There were interfaces with this, but it was outside the scope of the Manor Park project.
Management team have their performance monitored by signing a new contract so SROs must deliver. Because they have had their budget removed, they must make the saving. There is a some slack from the transformation budget where necessary. 70% of projects achieve savings.
You have a year until you close accounts so redundancies not straightaway . Calculate benefits as Net position, not Gross position (I don’t understand this).
Centralising benefits and taking budget avoids double-counting of benefits.
Investment led approach allows pump-priming, paying upfront for business cases to be produced.
Cost avoidance and notional savings not counted.
As a result of Manor Drive, the council’s company has won 2 tenders to provide local BO services in Peterborough.
We can ask for a demo login for Verto system
Paul Tonks, Head of Business Transformation
Telephone: 01733 452471
Sally Howe, V4 Services Limited
Telephone: 07912 517093
Chris Wright, TMI Systems Limited
Telephone: 07799 656101
- Stephen Jenner, director Criminal Justice IT portfolio unit
(profile: http://www.stage-gate.com/SG_Summit/SGLS_Faculty.php )
The final speaker was Stephen Jenner who presented on the topic “Benefits Realisation….a fool’s errand?”
Steve’s presentation was interesting and wry, underlining the point that it is only possible to realize benefits when you have defined, clearly and honestly, what those benefits will be.
He called upon various expert papers by government officials and academics who decry the lamentable businesss practices we all fall subject to. For example, all business cases tell lies: “the planned, systematic, deliberate misstatement of costs and benefits to get projects approved….that is lying”.
There is a demonstrated, systemic tendency for project appraisers to be overly optimistic. This is a worldwide phenomenon that affects both the private and public sectors…appraisers tend to overstate benefits, and underestimate timings and costs.” HM Treasury
Forecasts are “highly, systematically and significantly misleading (inflated). The result is large benefit shortfalls”.
“Delusional optimism: we overemphasise projects’ potential benefits and underestimate likely costs, spinning success scenarios while ignoring the possibility of mistakes.” Lovallo and Kahneman
He pointed out some ways to cut through the potential problems:
- “Strategic alignment” is no justification for investment. Will any business case not align with strategy?!
- Be clear about the benefits from the start and what kind of benefits they are.
- Saving employee time is not a benefit – they are only “vouchers”. It is what we do with that time that determines the resulting benefit.
- Use rigorous stage Gates during projects
- Use the business case as a measure at each stage / phase to ensure clear line of sight
- Use summary documentation – size is the enemy to understanding – the bigger a business case, the less useful it is! One page business cases?!
- Post-implementation reviews provide an organisation with learning from past mistakes that would otherwise be lost. I;m not sure how this would be best communicated.
- Independent reviews:
- Ayers suggests an, “‘Advocatus Diaboli’… whose job it is to poke holes in pet projects. These professional “No” men could be an antidote to overconfidence bias.”
- Davidson Frame proposes the use of “murder boards” to pull a proposal apart to, “make sure that arguments in support of project ideas do not have built into them the seeds of their own destruction.”
- Steve Jenner – I suggest a ‘fool’ to ask the questions others don’t dare to ask and identify those, ‘assumptions that masquerade as facts’. “Be wise enough to play the fool”.
While you could argue that Steve is dressing up some common-sense principles in order to make a living as a public speaker, nevertheless he convincingly makes points that lend a note of valuable caution to the justifications and programme management of every organization.