Recent

Tags

Archive

Tanner James Blog

The role of the blueprint in MSP

Matt Overton

A common question I’m asked during MSP training is around clarifying the role of the blueprint in the design of a change programme. MSP best practice advises that you shouldn’t confuse the future state that the programme will deliver with how you’re going to get there. It is also suggested that you should focus on where you want to be before you agree where you are (the current state).

The confusion is understandable considering that many change programmes are not as vision-led as we would like and instead are emergent, being derived from extent projects.In addition, we tend to conflate the roadmap of how we’re going to get to the end state with what that end state looks like.

This is particularly true of the plan-on-a-page deliverable, which provides an all-in-one solution.

My advice comprises three parts. Firstly, discuss the future state in the absence of a time horizon. You’re likely to have more free-form debate and ideation. Secondly, once agreement has been brokered, move onto the ‘how’ – the time and money – and ‘what’, including the incorporation of initiatives that are already in flight. Thirdly, focus on the current state since, from that, you’ll be able to judge the extent of the change and the speed by which it will need to be achieved.

I’m less concerned about these three parts being combined into one deliverable providing that their intent is understood from the outset. It’s more about the talking than the typing…

Matt Overton,
Tanner James Principal Consultant and Trainer

The new APS P3M Community of Practice and Centre of Excellence

John Howarth

In my last couple of blogs I wrote about SES officers (one simple thing they get wrong with programmes and projects and what happens when they speak freely about programme management or project management).

While SES officers are critical to effective programme management or project management, the engine room is the community of APS practitioners who have a passion for making these disciplines cornerstones of high quality policy implementation.

I was therefore delighted to see the Departments of Finance and Prime Minister and Cabinet have launched a renewed P3M Community of Practice and Virtual P3M Centre of Excellence to support APS collaboration in building P3M capability.

P3M Community of Practice

The P3M Community of Practice (CoP) is an APS wide network of P3M practitioners who come together to share, learn and promote good portfolio, programme and project management practices.  The vision of the enhanced CoP is to build a collaborative knowledge sharing network of P3M practitioners to strengthen APS delivery capability and promote greater recognition by the APS.

Membership is voluntary and open to permanent or non-ongoing APS staff.

Virtual P3M Centre of Excellence

The concept of a virtual P3M CoE is to provide free exchange of APS focussed P3M advice; where professionals can connect and learn from each other, solutions can be developed to common challenges and P3M capability can be built across the APS.

What will the P3M CoP and CoE achieve?

In my opinion a great deal.  Much good work has already been done by the P3M CoP, and if you haven’t already been involved, I commend it to you.  It’s a great way to learn from the experience of other public servants facing similar challenges to the ones you face.

As trainers and consultants we spend a fair bit of time “connecting” people in different parts of the APS to one another.  That’s fine, and it’s a role we’re very happy to perform, but it’s even better to see the APS establishing mechanisms by which the collective wisdom of APS P3M practitioners can be harnessed for the good of all.

Note to SES officers – make sure you give your P3M specialists time to attend and contribute to time these initiatives (I couldn’t resist signing off on that note).

Want to know more?

There are more details on both these initiatives on this Department of Finance webpage.

To find out more about the CoP, you can send a message to p3mcop@finance.gov.au

If you would like to know more about programme management or project management in the APS, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Bloated Project Boards

Ray Ahern

Do you have bloated Project Boards that are made up of every person with a vague interest in your project?  Is all the focus of the Project Board on the latest technical issue rather than the big picture?

Project Boards are meant to be focused on the Business Case for the project; that is, whether the project is (and remains) ‘good’ for the business.  They are not meant to focus on technical issues and technical milestones.

The Board does however need to be assured that those things are under control.

How do they do that without loading up every board meeting with technical people?  The answer lies in the role of Project Assurance.  An appointed Project Assurance person reports to one or more Project Board members about the project. 

Whilst they must have access to the project, they do not direct the Project Manager.

Of course, a Board member may come from a technical background and be very comfortable understanding the system architecture, for example, but not understand or have sufficient visibility of the finances. In that case, the Board member might appoint someone as Project Assurance from a financial perspective and not have the technical assurance.

As these choices depend on the project and the individual Board member, Project Assurance is a role that should be appointed by the Project Board, and indeed each Project Board member, to suit their specific needs.  Some organisations choose to have mandatory assurance roles such as Security, Finance, Safety and System Architecture, and this is fine.  However appointments do need to be tailored to each project.

Ray Ahern,
Tanner James Principal Consultant 

 

This is what happens when SES officers speak freely about programme management or project management

John Howarth

 

In my last blog I wrote about the one simple thing most SES officers get wrong with programmes and projects: they don’t think about programmes and projects as organisations.  (Read that blog here.)

This observation generated quite a lot of interest, and so this month I thought I’d share with you what happens when SES officers are given the opportunity to speak freely about programme management or project management.

“SES officers speak freely?  Yeah right!  Like that’ll ever happen…”

If that was your reaction, and you wouldn’t be the first person I have known to react that way, then I would invite you to (re)open your mind.  Senior executives are humans like the rest of us, and they have thoughts and feelings that are not necessarily evident simply from observing what they say and what they do.  If you have the capacity to develop trust, respect and rapport with your SES, you are far more likely to have an effective engagement with them where they say what’s on their mind.

Assuming the pre-requisites are in place for an authentic conversation to occur, let’s examine what happens when the door closes and the conversation begins.

How do you start an executive conversation about programme/project management?

Hello, my name is John and I’m here to tell you all about PRINCE2.  It has seven principles, seven themes and seven processes.  I’m going to explain all those to you and we’ll look at the templates as well.”  That is about the worst possible opening line I can imagine.  It might be somewhat exaggerated, but it is painfully close to some of the internal presentations I have witnessed.  What is the single most common flaw?  Launching into an explanation of {insert PPM topic of your choice here} without first establishing any context or ascertaining what those present want to get out of the discussion.

What is the right way to start the conversation?  Assuming you have dealt with “meeting hygiene” factors such as how long the discussion will take, introductions etc, how about inviting each participant to briefly address:

  • What brought them to this conversation;
  • What programme/project management means to them;
  • What experience they have in programme/project management;
  • Topics they’d like to cover in the discussion; and
  • What they want to take away from the discussion.

If you have limited time, a killer question which I picked up from an executive coach years ago, and still use to this day, is:  “what would make this conversation most useful for you?”

The things SES officers are usually seeking

Context.  It is no use launching into the specifics of MSP, PRINCE2, P3M3, your framework, why benefits management is important etc etc, if you haven’t first established where the discussion fits into their world.  For example, most SES discussions touch upon the concept of “run the business versus change the business” very early on.

Purpose.  Before explaining the “what” of programme management or project management, you need to understand the “why”.  Did you notice I didn’t say explain the why?  Your job is to understand why the topic at hand is relevant and useful to the executive(s) you are speaking with.  This requires you to have a practical understanding of their role and their challenges, so you can correctly position your PPM topic as a means to assist.  If you can confidently identify with and articulate the problems they have, and explain why programme management or project management can help address those problems, you have a firm foundation for a productive conversation.

Mental Model.  SES officers are busy people, they have to cover a vast array of topics under great time pressures.  Most likely they don’t have the time or inclination to absorb the detail, so you won’t be thanked for droning on about detailed terminology definitions and nuances for hours on end.  They are seeking a simple mental model that allows them to relate the disciplines you are intimately familiar with to the context and challenges they face.

Practicalities, Problems and Perceptions.  Theory is fine, but you need to know how to make these things work in practice, and how to address known problems and perceptions.  Some examples:

  • We don’t have time for this;
  • We have enough templates to sink a ship and they don’t add any value;
  • Qualifications don’t prove anything;
  • This is important but my staff can handle it on my behalf;
  • Our superiors have said we’re not going to have one of those; and the timeless classic…
  • We don’t do it like that here.

What happens

If you start the conversation effectively, understand what is being sought, and know your PPM back-to-front, then in my experience what happens is a very powerful conversation.  Lightbulb moments.  Ah ha moments.  Engagement.  Understanding.  Excitement even.

It is hardly ever about the detail.  It is virtually always about the fundamentals, for example:
  • Using a role-based temporary decision-making structure that cuts across organisational boundaries.
  • Effectively engaging people from the real business areas.
  • How to avoid death-by-template.
  • Making benefits and products real.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there, and save the rest for future blogs.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about engaging SES about programme management or project management, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

The one simple thing most SES officers get wrong with programmes and projects

John Howarth

The one simple thing most SES officers get wrong with programmes and projects

There is one simple thing most SES officers get wrong with programmes and projects, and it is this: they think about them the wrong way.

Common Misconceptions

Whenever I mention that I specialise in programme and project management to senior executives, it is always interesting to see what kind of responses I get.  They are many and varied, but body language and facial expressions can often signal private thoughts:

  • blank stares (“why would that be of any interest to me?”);
  • knowing smiles (“that’s nice, though you look too old to be an IT person”);
  • mild alarm (“are you a threat to my world?”);
  • involuntary eye-rolling (“I’m getting tired of you template-warriors”);
  • utter disdain (“haven’t you heard we have Agile now? - project management is so 1980s”)

(I admit there are some very positive ones but negative responses are surprisingly common.)

Now, I don’t think anyone gets to be an SES officer without displaying leadership qualities, intelligence and a broad range of capabilities.  So why are such high-calibre individuals responding negatively at the mere mention of programmes and projects?  It is because of what they think those things are.  Some examples:

  • projects are what we call the major tasks the CIO’s area is undertaking;
  • projects are the way we control our spending on capital works;
  • projects are pieces of work I get my team to undertake;
  • projects are the way Defence spends money (lots of it);
  • programmes are what the policy people think up for the service delivery people to deliver;
  • programmes are the way we monitor, evaluate and report on major government expenditure;
  • (programmes should be spelled programs because… blah blah blah… you get the idea!)

How should SES officers think about programmes and projects?

The answer is simple.  The dominant way SES officers should look at programmes and projects is as organisations.  Temporary ones.  A programme is an organisation, and a project is an organisation (a smaller one).

To do this requires a mental re-frame (indeed a couple of them).  Forget all about your permanent structures, they are valueless in the world of change.  Pretend they don’t exist.  Then look at the programme/project you are about to embark upon, and establish it as a new (and temporary) organisation the same way you would if you were setting up a brand new Group, Division or Branch.

You will need positions – roles – to direct, manage and undertake the work.  Principles by which the organisation runs.  Governance arrangements, processes and standards.  Ways to plan and delegate and set priorities.  Ways to check progress, deal with problems, change priorities.  Resources.  Funding.  The list goes on.

When an SES officer thinks about setting up a programme or project the way they would think about setting up a brand new Group, Division or Branch, they are far more likely to give it the degree of rigour, attention, time and effort it deserves.  Contrast that with the all too common solution:  “yeah, we’ll need to get a firm/someone in on contract to run that, make sure the PMO gives them the templates”.

Programmes and projects are the vehicles by which we introduce significant change, and if you don’t apply the right disciplines skilfully to manage them things are inevitably going to go wrong.  The best place to start is by having senior executives look at programmes and projects first and foremost as organisations in their own right.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about running programmes and projects as temporary organisations in the APS, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Will the Fourth of July be Programme and Project Management Independence Day in Australia?

John Howarth

To The Fourth of July (excerpt from Poem by Swami Vivekananda)

Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns—
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!

Swami Vivekananda prepared the above poem, to be read aloud at the early breakfast, as a part of a celebration of the anniversary of the United States' independence.

I am greatly looking forward to the Fourth of July in Australia this year – not because it is the first day of a weeks planned leave, and not because my American neighbours (neighbors) will be celebrating.  But because it will be the first day back at work for the Australian Public Service under a newly elected Government.

I recognise that some of you might not be given to poetic outbursts when the election result becomes apparent, however I think most of you will be glad to exit the caretaker period.

Hurry up and wait

During the caretaker period, the business of government continues and ordinary matters of administration still need to be addressed. However, successive governments have followed a series of practices, known as the ‘caretaker conventions’, which aim to ensure that their actions do not bind an incoming government and limit its freedom of action.  In summary, the conventions are that the government avoids:

  • making major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming government;
  • making significant appointments; and
  • entering major contracts or undertakings

In other words, no new programmes or projects!

The birds are singing

Everything changes when the new incoming government takes the helm.  The things that have been diligently avoided during the caretaker period become the heart of the headlines for weeks to come – new major policy decisions, new significant appointments, and new major contracts.

There will be significant pressure on many of you in the Australian Public Service to provide advice and plan implementation of measures at a rapid pace, in demanding circumstances – there might be unrealistic expectations of how quickly change can be brought about, there might be uncertainty about why measures are required, and there may be no real picture of the future the government wants to see.  New Ministers might in the early days have a poorly defined, or poorly communicated, vision.

How will you tackle these challenges?

Have a big breakfast and get to work early

Having a big breakfast and getting to work early might help with day one.  But what should you do next?  Well, I’m going to repeat what I have said in a previous blog (the keen-eyed among you might notice I’ve edited it slightly to comply with my own caretaker conventions)…

The Australian Public Service Commissioner and the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet want the APS to improve their leadership skills in order to be able to implement policy well in a time of rapid transformation.

Professor Shergold has advised government that large government policy initiatives should be implemented as programmes and projects, and that this requires professional skills, formal qualifications and competence.

To me this means that programme management and project management disciplines should now be of great interest to all SES officers involved in policy implementation.  Each and every member of the APS must take stock of their leadership skills and see where they can improve.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about how you can improve programme and project management in the APS, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.  I promise there will be no poetic outbursts.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

What will the Prime Minister’s vision mean for programme and project management in the APS?

John Howarth

What will the Prime Minister’s vision mean for programme and project management in the APS?

I was delighted to attend the Prime Ministers address to the APS in the Great Hall of Parliament House two weeks ago, and before I say anything else I must congratulate IPAA for arranging such a tremendous event.  It is impressive that over 13 secretaries and heads of agencies attended.

In his address the PM shared his vision for a 21st century Public Service.  There were over 800 people present, so there will be over 800 individual interpretations on what this means.

Here is my interpretation of what the PM’s vision will mean for programme and project management in the APS.

Key elements of the Prime Minister’s vision – transformation and leadership skills

The PM said that we live in a time of rapid transformation, and that plenty is changing for the APS.

He spoke at length about digital transformation, saying that it must be at the heart of government and therefore must be whole of government.  He said that “we must all commit to learn about the technology at our disposal.  That is non-negotiable.”  He spoke highly of the Digital Transformation Office and encouraged everyone to familiarise themselves with its work and to engage with the DTO.

The PM spoke about there being plenty of technology, plenty of imagination, but not enough technological imagination.  He invited everyone to open their minds and be bold.

Referring to the Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in the Public Service, he observed that it takes a high standard of leadership planning and governance to bring ideas to fruition, but the results are outstanding.  The PM said he wants to see more of this within the APS.

The PM quoted directly from the State of the Service Report released last year by the Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd when referring to capability gaps in the use of technology, training and leadership due to the rapid and exhaustive nature of the changes we face.

The PM said “I want to encourage each of you to take stock of your leadership skills and see where you can improve, and I mean each and every member of the APS because I expect leadership to be shown at every level”.

I think it is also worth noting that in his opening remarks Dr Parkinson as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said:

We provide the government with an engine room to conceive, test and implement ideas”…”Yet, sadly, we are not as good as I think we can be or we need to be if we are to deliver what Australians expects of us.  This will be an ongoing priority for me as Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet.”

A third-party view of Digital Government transformation

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report (available here) suggested that estimated new benefits of $20.5 billion can be achieved through digital government transformation.

The report acknowledged that there are many challenges facing digital transformation, and identified six main barriers to change in government:

  • Policy bottlenecks and bureaucratic inertia
  • Budget and capability constraints
  • Digital exclusion and divide
  • Lack of competition
  • Privacy and security
  • Transitioning government staff to new roles

The report included a recommendation that:

To encourage long-term digital transformation, business cases should allow agencies to offset agency savings against ICT investments (where they cannot already do so). In cases where this is not viable, government agencies can consider new forms of ICT project management and implementations that require lower specifications that are agile and innovative and lead to direct efficiency savings, which can be utilised to yield larger investments in the future.

A third-party view of government processes for implementing large programs and projects – (the Shergold Review)

Last month I wrote in my blog about the report “Learning from Failure”1 by Professor Peter Shergold AC, and I asked the question “How might the SES now learn from programme and project failure?”.  I will repeat just a few of the key points here.

The report made it clear that large government policy initiatives should be implemented as programmes and projects, and said:

  • As the public service fully commits itself to measuring results by outcomes, program management needs to be accorded far greater professional status.
  • Project and programme managers require minimum standards of competency and ongoing professional development.
  • The importance of formal qualifications should not be underestimated.  One of the best levers to mitigate risks associated with programme delivery is to have properly trained and certified practitioners.
  • Agencies need to be discerning consumers of the training products on the market, and access the best ones that can be tailored to APS processes

What the PM’s vision will mean for programme and project management in the APS

Putting all this together…

The Prime Minister is clearly committed to digital transformation.  There are huge benefits to citizens and huge benefits to government on offer.

The Prime Minister, the Australian Public Service Commissioner, the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet want the APS to improve their leadership skills in order to be able to implement policy well in a time of rapid transformation.

Professor Shergold has advised government that large government policy initiatives should be implemented as programmes and projects, and that this requires professional skills, formal qualifications and competence.

To me this means that programme management and project management disciplines should now be of great interest to all SES officers involved in policy implementation or digital transformation.  Each and every member of the APS must take stock of their leadership skills and see where they can improve – noting  those are the Prime Minister’s word, not mine.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about how you can improve programme and project management in the APS, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

How might the SES now learn from programme and project failure?

John Howarth

I am pleased to have been a contributor to the report “Learning from Failure”1 by Professor Peter Shergold AC, which was published in early February 2016.  On page one of the report he says:

“Leadership begins with finding the courage to say, ‘I accept personal responsibility for contributing to the failure to which I was a party’.  That recognition can steer the resolve to make changes, try again, and do better.  Acknowledging errors publically is a form of self-improvement, not self-abnegation.  Failure, and how we respond to it, is where leadership is born.”

This blog is for SES officers who wish to make changes, try again, and do better with programmes2 and projects.

Note 1:  The full report can be downloaded here: http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/learning-from-failure  Content in italics has been sourced directly from this ASPC publication.  This material is licenced for reuse under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence.

Note 2:  The report uses the spelling “program”.  As an AXELOS provider Tanner James uses the spelling “programme”.  We hope you share our opinion that how the word is spelt is unimportant.

Where do I begin?

You may have read the review, but how closely did you look at the front cover?  Apart from the title “Learning from Failure” it contains two descriptors of what lies within:

“Why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved” and

“An independent review of government processes for implementing large programs and projects”

There is a strong implication here:  large government policy initiatives should be implemented as programmes and projects.  This is massive.  It takes programmes and projects from being things that are only of interest to a chosen few, often with an ICT focus and often at more junior levels, to being constructs that are at the heart of Government operations.

Given this implication I recommend that you begin by contemplating what departmental policy initiatives should be managed using programme and project management disciplines, taking a much broader view than you might previously have done.

What are the key points for me?

In his review Professor Shergold identifies 10 key lessons to be learned:

  1. Policy is only as good as the manner in which it is implemented.
  2. Policy advice can only be frank and fearless if it is supported by written argument.
  3. Deliberations, oral and in writing, need to be protected.
  4. Deliberative documents need to be preserved, whether written on paper or delivered by digital means.
  5. It is up to ministers, not officials, to make policy decisions.
  6. The effective management of risk is just as important in the public sector as in the private—perhaps more so.
  7. As the public service fully commits itself to measuring results by outcomes, program management needs to be accorded far greater professional status.
  8. Good governance increasingly depends on collaboration across sectors.
  9. The APS needs to be further opened up.
  10. An adaptive government can respond rapidly to changing circumstances without taking unnecessary (and unforeseen) risks.

He made 28 proposals for improvement, in the form of conclusions, grouped under 6 main headings:

  1. Providing Robust Advice.
  2. Supporting Decision Making.
  3. Creating a Positive Risk Culture.
  4. Enhancing Program Management.
  5. Opening Up the APS
  6. Embracing Adaptive Government.

The review makes some critical points in relation to project and programme management:

  • The terms ‘project management’ and ‘programme management’ are often used interchangeably in the APS without full understanding of their meaning.
  • Public service departments with mature programme management capabilities value the experience and skill of their professionals.  They assist them to gain experience and acquire professional accreditation.
  • Having a single point of accountability is a cornerstone of project management methodologies.  Accountability for the success of a policy’s implementation must remain squarely with the SRO.
  • Project and programme managers require minimum standards of competency and ongoing professional development.
  • The importance of formal qualifications should not be underestimated.  One of the best levers to mitigate risks associated with programme delivery is to have properly trained and certified practitioners.
  • Agencies need to be discerning consumers of the training products on the market, and access the best ones that can be tailored to APS processes

What do I need to do next?

If you are an SES officer involved in policy implementation I recommend ensuring that you and your SES colleagues fully understand:

  1. The difference between programme management and project management, and what considerations apply when determining what departmental policy initiatives should be managed using these disciplines;
  2. The programme management and project management methods available to you, and how they need to be tailored for the APS context and nature of initiatives with which you are involved.
  3. Which of your staff require formal programme management and/or project management training, which require qualifications, how competence can be assessed and how these relate to Work Level Standards for the APS Level and Executive Level (EL) classifications.

Want to know more?

If you are an SES officer involved in policy implementation, and you would like to know more about how you can avoid programme and project failure, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

 

 

How to create a Digital Transformation Plan

John Howarth

In my last blog “This is why Digital Transformation Coordinators can’t sleep…” I pointed out that if you are a Digital Transformation Coordinator (DTC) you have a big role to perform.  One of the first duties of a DTC is to develop a Digital Transformation Plan.  I’d like to offer a few tips on how you might go about creating that plan.

What is a Digital Transformation Plan?

The DTO has set out the requirements for a Digital Transformation Plan here.
In a nutshell the plan should explain the current service offerings and the user needs to be met, the vision for the agency, and how it will get there.  I would like to take each of these areas, have a look at what the DTO requirement is, and add a few suggestions of my own.

Before we begin {spoiler alert!}…

If you are about to sit down at your keyboard and create your Digital Transformation Plan, you are about to fail.  Because, to quote Eisenhower, “…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.  This means talking not typing.  And talking with the right people – your stakeholders.  The problem of course is that you have lots of stakeholders.  Who hold lots of opinions.  How to reconcile all those different opinions and to get clear decisions and a clear direction?

My tip is to establish a role-based governance structure to manage Digital Transformation for your agency.  In fact, I’ll go a step further – my suggestion is that you establish a Digital Transformation Programme for your agency.  But not a big lumbering thing, one that is simply constructed and delivered using Agile development approaches and managed using PRINCE2 Agile™.

Where you are now

The DTO says that this element of the plan should address:
  • service users and their requirements; how the agency engages with its users around service delivery, and detail of current services;
  • strategic context and direction for the agency and its digital transformation, including current initiatives to digitise services;

I agree.  I think a high-level current state blueprint of processes, people, organisational structures, technology and information should cover the first item nicely.  I think a programme brief would cover the second item, and should include outline benefits, estimated costs, timescales, effort and risks for inflight initiatives.

The future

The DTO simply says that this is the vision for the digitally transformed agency.  I’m ok with that, but would like to modify it slightly, and add to it.

In my opinion the vision should be the vision for the world lived in by the users of the services, not limited to the agency itself.  Services should be considered and designed “outside-in”.  What will be the real lived-experience from a citizen perspective?

This means that when the vision is created, it needs to involve real people from the real world.  Agile is all about user-centred design, the trick is to ensure that from the very start the correct users are effectively represented, and this means properly engaging them in development of the vision.

What I would add to consideration of the future is that you don’t just need a vision, you need a future state blueprint.  Or rather blueprints.  Because the vision will be at way too high a level to be useful as a basis to plan or deliver anything.

So my tip is to create a high-level blueprint of processes, people, organisational structures, technology and information for the final future state, and create some interim blueprints for each chunk of new business/service capability you plan to deliver. 

How you will get there

The DTO says that this element of the plan should address:

  • identification of specific aspects of services that can be transformed quickly and enable significant improvements to the user experience
  • identification, prioritisation and planning the transformation of high volume transactional services to comply with the Digital Service Standard
  • an action plan that addresses the changes required at the organisational, cultural and capability levels.

I agree with all these points, however I think the last one requires careful consideration.  I believe this action plan needs to take the form of a properly defined transformational change programme.  As well as the vision and blueprints already mentioned I think it should therefore include such things as:

  • a clear role-based governance structure with a Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), DCT as programme manager, and business change managers from within and outside the agency;
  • a stakeholder engagement strategy and plan;
  • a benefits management strategy, benefits map, and benefits profiles – to ensure clarity about who is accountable for realisation of benefits from the digitised services;
  • underpinning plans – a programme plan and delivery plans that identify the products, timescales, costs, resource requirements and risks involved in transformation; these plans will most likely reflect agile development (PRINCE2 Agile is recommended for this reason);
  • appropriate governance strategies and control arrangements – put together in such a way that there is a seamless integration of the need for agile disciplines and behaviours with the need to stay in control and empower people without losing executive accountability or engagement.

MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) is specifically designed for business transformation and programmes involving societal change, because it is designed to accommodate high levels of complexity, ambiguity and risk.  If you use MSP, always remember it is about talking not typing – “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.

Want to know more?

If you are an SES officer in the role of Digital Transformation Coordinator, and you would like to know more about how to effectively establish a Digital Transformation Programme, please give us a call on 1300-774 623 or drop me a line at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au.

 

This is why Digital Transformation Coordinators can’t sleep…

John Howarth

I said in my recent blog “war or peace” that “unless you have been hiding under a rock recently, you will be aware that the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) was established on 1st July 2015”.  Well, I’ll add to that - if you are a Digital Transformation Coordinator you might well feel that you have had a rock dropped on your head.

The plot so far…

For those of you who have been too busy to watch the DTO super-power marching on Canberra, here’s a very quick recap:

·      Paul Shetler has been appointed as head of the DTO, and he believes that Australia can become the best in the world at delivering government services – simpler, clearer, faster more humane ones.

·      Paul has branded himself as a non-bureaucratic champion of the people, leader of the digital age, who certainly doesn’t have any time for any stuff and nonsense which traditionalists have placed in his way.

·      The DTO has a very clean website, one my nineteen year old son might even like, that stands in contrast to the websites of most agencies and declares in big bold letters “working on things that matter”.

·      The dominate feature of the website is an upbeat blog that has a steady stream of positively-worded messages about how exciting the brave new world is, clearly designed to convey the impression that the DTO is a hive of   activity bursting to transform the world.

Lights, camera, action…

But the DTO isn’t all blog and no action.  It has defined a Digital Service Standard that sets 14 simple – but non-trivial – criteria which agencies are expected to meet.  If a service being worked on doesn’t meet the standard, the service doesn’t progress.  Ouch.

The standard comes with a range of ancillary items, such as Design guides, Common solutions, Case Studies and even a page on Transformation Planning.  I wouldn’t argue with anything this latter page says, however I think what is more significant is what it doesn’t say.  It tells agencies they must have a Digital Transformation Plan… and that is about it.  It indicates that the DTO will assist agencies with the transformation planning process, but is short on specifics about what that actually means.

Against this background, on the 14 October the DTO announced on its blog, with the requisite dose of positivity and excitement, it’s Work Programme.  Agencies are named, and simple compelling statements are made about the wonderful things that are just about to happen…

Did I mention this is a Spielberg Production?

Actually it isn’t, but the biggest name in town is involved – the Prime Minister himself has established the Digital Transformation Committee as a Cabinet Committee.  Yep, you read that correctly – it sits up there alongside powerhouses of government operations such as the National Security and the Expenditure Review Committee.

(Talking of expenditure, I’m tipping that the PM isn’t just backing this because he loves iPads…)

So if you thought the DTO was just another self-absorbed interest group tugging on peoples sleeves pleading with them to pay attention, think again – the new kids on the block have teeth, sharp ones.

Here’s the part you will be playing…

So this is all looking pretty serious, and someone needs to make it happen.  According to the DTO website, there will be an individual in each agency whose role in all this is as follows:

·         developing a Digital Transformation Plan;

·         influencing efforts in building digital capability;

·         implementing the Agenda within an agency;

·         delivering projects that underpin the Agenda;

·         acting as champions and leading their agency through cultural change, adopting a whole-of-government mentality;

·         collaborating with other DTCs across government;

·         ensuring that existing and new services are aligned with and meet the Digital Service Standard; and

·         making sure their agency uses government service delivery common platforms and joined-up services.

And who is that individual?

 – it is you, the Digital Transformation Coordinator.  Sweet dreams.

 

POST SCRIPT

If you are an SES officer in the role of Digital Transformation Coordinator, and you are having trouble sleeping, please give us a call on 1300-774 623 or drop me a line at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au.

 

1 2 3 4 5 .. 6 Next