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How to successfully deliver business change

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The SWWE Branch was very pleased to have worked with the APM’s Enabling Change Specific Interest Group (SIG), to arrange this highly interactive and engaging 1 day seminar exploring how to successfully deliver business change.

Following the usual welcome by Branch Chairman, Martin Gosden, the day was introduced by Elisabeth Goodman of the Enabling Change SIG.  She set the scene by explaining about the SIG’s work on developing their first publication: an introductory guide to managing change, and how the output from the Seminar would contribute to its development.  The SIG have identified 6 key themes for managing change and the aim today was to test the robustness of the themes and use them as a framework to explore and understand the issues related to each.  All the delegates would have the opportunity to consider each theme. Elisabeth introduced the key note speaker, Joanne Bradshaw, Programme Director, Fraud, Error and Debt, for the Department of Work and Pensions, (DWP).

Joanne’s view of business change was that it was about transformation, involving people, processes, structure and above all culture change. IT projects often fail because they forget that it is not just about technology, but also about people and processes. Joanne explained about the work of the DWP and its organisational challenges and then outlined the Fraud, Error and Debt Programme and its constituent projects, from which she drew examples to illustrate the 6 themes:

1.    Clear Vision of the Future. It is essential to set out a clear vision for the future, which is linked to the organisational strategy and articulates benefits and perspectives of success. A valuable tool for this is to develop a ‘rich picture’ which can be used throughout the organisation to understand the vision and to help staff explore what it means for them. She has found Steve Radcliffe’s book “Leadership Made Simple”, very helpful.

2.    Strong Leadership and Sponsorship. All DWP programmes have Senior Responsible Owners, (SROs).  It is essential the SROs are accountable and have buy-in to the success of the change programme in their organisation.  It is important to understand the strengths and weakness of the leadership team so that the right people are involved.  For the fraud investigation services programme it was very hard to identify the single sponsor in each of the 380 Local Authorities involved, but after a lot of hard work this was achieved and it did work well to implement the changes needed. 

3.    Integrated Project Delivery. (The SIG describes this as ‘Define & Follow a Well Structured Approach’). It is important to embed the change mechanisms into the project life cycle and plans. They cannot be seen as separate. 

4.    Stakeholder Relationships. It is critical to identify and engage with stakeholders and to build robust relationships to manage the required changes. One size does not fit all and engagement and communications must be tailored to the language required by each. Read more about change management.

5.    Team Structure, Culture and Capability.  Clearly defined roles and responsibilities are needed for all team members. Collaboration needs to be encouraged as well as the right balance on the team between technical and ‘soft’ skills.  Project management is not a science alone, but is also an ‘art’ and so a diverse team is needed to deliver successfully.  Tools such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and ‘colour works’ are useful to understand the nature of the team’s members.

6.    Measuring Success. It is important to choose the right measures to track and monitor progress. Benefits management needs to be linked to the project outcomes.  DWP can be too focussed on financial measures, but it is essential to have a balance with less tangible measures such as staff motivation and morale. Feedback mechanisms such as staff surveys, pulse surveys and open door communications are very useful.

Joanne summarised that successful business change needs to be underpinned by:- 

  •  A clear vision of the future that is articulated at both an individual and organisational level.
  • Senior buy-in & a ‘balanced’ leadership team.
  • Business change processes that are embedded in the project delivery lifecycle – they are not an optional extra.
  • Engagement, communications and ‘big’ stakeholder relationships.
  • A team based culture where the softer dimensions of project delivery are recognised and valued.
  • Mechanisms to define, measure and monitor success.

These all need to operate in harmony to maximise the changes of success.

Following a lively Q&A, Elisabeth summarised the 6 themes to prepare the delegates for the workshop discussions.

Each table considered each of the themes in turn and discussed the factors that can contribute to success, pitfalls to avoid, useful methodologies that had been used, and any stories and anecdotes. 

At the end of the afternoon the facilitators shared the captured ideas and thoughts in a plenary session. 

The captured notes will be transcribed by the SIG to help develop the managing change guide further and made available to the delegates. 

The presentation slides are available on the APM web site below and on the Resources page, together with the captured notes (these will follow shortly).

I would like to thank our facilitators today, Danna Bopp, Fran Bodley-Scott, Gary Mainwaring and particularly Rebecca Eastment for offering to help with facilitation at the last minute.

Martin Gosden

SWWE branch Chair


A) Clear Vision Strategy
B) Leadership Sponsorship
C) Well-Structured Approach
D) Stakeholders
E) Change Team
F) Measures


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