Delivering more with less

Client: Government Department

The problem

This Government Department described a situation to X is Y of diverging methods across teams, where each team was delivering in whatever way the Project Manager knew how. Projects were taking far too long and going over budget. There was a growing lack of confidence in the value or fit of the outcomes being delivered.

In exploring these observations X is Y were able to reframe the problem as; lack of efficiency, consistency and transparency to ensure benefits are being realised in their delivery approach. 

Digging deeper in the first conversation, X is Y were also able to reveal that there was also potential issues around goals and measurement as a basis for prioritisation, a lack of any validation of ideas or initiatives prior to delivery as well as sufficient problem exploration to ensure validation could be successful.

The brief

Phase 1: Assess and agree

The initial brief was to help dig deeper, define the problem and come up with a proposed plan to address it

Phase 2: Co-design the solution

Once the Assess and Agree phase was completed, this Government Department wanted to take a participatory approach to co-designing how we might solve the problem(s) discovered in Phase 1.

Phase 3: Deliver the pilot

Once the solution is designed it was X is Y’s recommendation to pilot the design to pressure test it and iterate it in the field.

Phase 4: Embed the framework

Following the Pilot it was then recommended that the Government Department roll the solution out gradually across the organisation.

What we did

Phase 1: Assess and agree

X is Y worked collaboratively with multiple stakeholders across the Government Department and ran workshops to explore:

  1. Strategy to Initiatives - Exec team: How strategy is set, goals are formed, how initiatives are generated, selected and monitored.

  2. Initiatives to Delivery - Exec team and Leadership: How initiatives are created, selected, prioritised and monitored. Then high level co-design of possible future state.

  3. Delivery to Outcome - Leadership and Delivery Team: How initiatives are delivered currently, key obstacles, key strengths and opportunities and high level future state design.

X is Y then packaged up all of what was discovered elaborated the high level future states and came up with a high level plan and briefed this back to the sponsors and gained agreement to continue to the next phase of Co-design.

Phase 2: Co-design the solution

X is Y kicked off this larger piece with a more in-depth mobilisation phase to set the project up for success. 

This entailed establishing roles and ceremonies, team charter, mapping stakeholders, design thinking 101 training, Comms and sprint planning. 

X is Y then took the core design team made up of cross functional input from across the organisation to design three key frameworks in the form of a series of Service Blueprints over a series of co-design workshops. The Service Blueprints defined the stages from; Strategic Goals and Metrics That Matter to Initiative Ideation and Validation through to Delivery.

Each Service Blueprints contained; the stage, the process steps, the actions, the features (details), actors (roles required), existing assets/processes to keep, refine and rebuild.  

The final step of the co-design process was to validate the process conceptually using previous project as a reference to check that the new frameworks would have addressed issues experienced in the past.

Phase 3: Deliver the pilot

Once the design was complete, reviewed and signed off X is Y then kicked off the pilot phase of the process where the Service Blueprints were then piloted against real initiatives. 

This provided a real-world pressure test required to iterate the frameworks based on actual experience and create the proof points and benefit stories needed for successful implementation of the frameworks in the next phase. 

Pilot testing highlighted areas of the framework we needed to adjust and took the conceptual aspects and proved them as critical or non-critical for success, the end result being a leaner, simpler, yet still robust framework for future use.

A big part of the pilot wasn’t only the framework, its templates, workshops and guidance, but the mindset changes that came about because of its use. Being OK with an MVP mindset, knowing that we intended to iterate and adapt as we used them was something of a cultural difference, one that the team grew to embrace, the more they worked in this way.

Another key win was understanding that our initial pilot project hadn’t been through the early Ideation/Validation stages of the framework, therefore would be missing key data required to deliver and this was borne out by the framework. We were able to switch projects to one that went through those early Ideation/Validation stages so that it was better set up for delivery.

Phase 4: Embed the framework

The rollout of the framework will be carried out across 2024, with further testing against ‘real’ projects and initiatives. A mindset of continuous improvement will enable us to take the piloted framework and enhance it to work across the business. 

There are also some key strategic parts of the framework such as Quarterly Planning & Prioritisation that need to be delivered across 2024 to get full value of the delivery framework.

The Benefits

As a result of a Government Department's engagement with X is Y, the business:

  • Can be confident that the best solutions to their problems are being deployed with maximum impact.

  • Can be confident that budget is being spent in the most high impact way, efficiently and effectively.

  • Can be part of the solution to better understand and adopt the outcome, improving and expediting the value returned.

  • Can be confident previous investments are being utilised to their fullest before more investment is potentially made duplicating a solution that already exists.

As a result of a Government Department's engagement with X is Y, the delivery team:

  • Has a common framework and centralised Knowledge Base to work from and iterate/improve over time for the benefit of all initiatives and projects.

  • Has a consistent framework so that all projects can be managed in the same way.

  • Can have confidence that the projects they are working on will have the highest impact.

  • Have a structure that enables the team to be able to stop working on a project that no longer looks like it will deliver the expected benefits and turn towards other higher impact projects.

  • Are able to reduce the volume of projects coming towards them as the ones that don’t survive validation will not progress to them.

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