At a recent workshop, we asked housing sector delegates to score themselves out of five for tracking and evidencing the benefits of change programmes. They all scored themselves below average, particularly within digital transformation programmes.
For example many said that whilst they had improved customer facing services, they still had a raft of inefficient and manual processes behind the scenes to deliver them.
Quite simply, many are struggling to track progress and realise the benefits of their initiatives. At Vantage, we’ve been helping clients to prove they are delivering their strategic goals by taking a forensic approach.
In my experience, I have found there are six critical measures of success:
1) Making the Links:
You must establish strong links between operational and financial business plans and align the strategic plan with the budget. This way you will naturally achieve your objectives as the impact will have a direct effect on your operational bottom line and your business plans.
2) Understanding Benefits Realisation:
Most organisations struggle with this stage. For all projects and initiatives, baselining and setting realistic savings targets for financial, resourcing and customer satisfaction underpins delivery of the overall strategic plan. By recording your current position, you can get a baseline, for example, what is your current customer satisfaction level, employee engagement score and associated costs to deliver the service. Next tangibly map out what improvements you would like to achieve on those scores and costs.
3) Project Prioritisation:
Setting the direction of travel for an organisation helps all stakeholders to understand the bigger picture and this requires project prioritisation. Prioritisation needs to be done in a collaborative way with your teams. Undertake mapping exercises, using effort vs benefit, cost vs benefit and cost vs effort quadrants to score the projects and they should naturally prioritise themselves. The Regulator is always looking for justification on the choices being made in the sector, so the added bonus is evidence-based decision making and a demonstrative Value for Money agenda.
4) Measure from Start to Finish:
In our experience too many RPs wait until the end of a project to try and measure outcomes. Projects should be measured by the outcomes achieved through the tasks completed – not just based on how many tasks themselves have been completed. Building in gateway reviews at the start of each project will ensure the benefits are captured and sustained. By reflecting back at each review stage, you can clearly see whether the activity has actually yielded results. Measures should include the target savings of both finances and resources, benefits to the customer and contribution to the overall strategic plan. Make sure you avoid the ‘watermelon effect’ – where everything looks green on the outside but it’s actually red when you delve deeper!
Transparency of the strategic goals, objectives and outputs discourages departmental silos, or internal disputes between departments and encourages teamwork which builds trust. Regular programme and project management meetings along with stakeholder engagement will ensure you can demonstrate the benefits and that what you want to achieve actually becomes a reality. How often have you asked your staff on the ground whether they think change programmes are delivering? Do their views reflect what the executive team are saying?
Clarity of purpose is key. When the purpose is clear, project and objective setting is simplified, daily decision-making becomes more straightforward and strategic goals are achieved. Annual whole company away days often support a strategy launch, but high performing organisations build in Meet the Leader sessions where staff can ask questions and get closer to the objectives and a shared vision.
To learn more about benefits realisation, get in touch for a chat on how you can implement this in your RP.