Our customer, a leading airline, formed its own IT delivery organisation responsible for the delivery of all IT programmes and projects across the business. As the aviation industry was starting to recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic, they faced the challenge of growing whilst also transforming to support the renewed demand to meet the ambitions.
As with many large enterprises emerging from the pandemic, our customer faced a multitude of challenges. Firstly, much of the capacity and capability within the organisation had been lost as major players in the aviation industry downsized during the lull of the pandemic. This created an inherent challenge in their ability to support the current and future development ambitions of the airline. As such, they needed to better understand the scale and type of demand from the business and how it would need to scale its capability in line with these ambitions. By this time, the value of the overall IT change portfolio had grown to more than £100m. Furthermore, this was expected to continue to swell as the airline pursued a post-pandemic growth agenda and delivery activity was re-started with new programmes mobilised.
Secondly, they suffered from legacy ways of working in an organisation with relatively low turnover and a lack of fresh approaches and thinking around IT delivery in particular. Like many businesses, there was a sentiment that the IT function was holding the business back.
Thirdly, the solution to these challenges created an issue in itself; the development of a new Target Operating Model (TOM) and the way in which the model was designed which presented significant challenges for those responsible for implementation. This ultimately exacerbated the naturally high levels of change resistance and served as another challenge for the leadership to tackle.
In late 2021, the new target operating model was unveiled to support the Delivery Team’s move towards more scaled agile ways of working organised around Product teams, led by Product Managers and supported by Product Owners. This re-organisation was aimed at addressing existing challenges within the previous organisation set-up, including spans of control, alongside improving the capability to deliver prioritised initiatives across the business.
Project One was asked to support the Head of Delivery by providing three key interim Product Managers to help land the new operating model and address the inevitable challenges. These roles were also responsible for defining and shaping their respective delivery portfolios, acting as line management to the teams within and embed the new operating model changes.
By fielding the right type of profiles, Project One was able to stand up an interim team of Product Managers able to quickly get a firm get a grip of the respective change portfolios and understand the phasing and scale of mobilisation projects. As part of this, a clear but reasonable plan was generated around the transition to the new operating model and expectations set with all team members in their role to support the ongoing changes.
Once on the ground, the team were able to fully embed themselves within the organisation, working closely with the Head of Delivery. From here, the team also took on the interim line management roles, coaching and mentoring team members into the new roles under the target operating model framework. They were empowered to address individual and collective concerns around the transition working closely with leadership and HR business partners.
As the team helped embed the new operating model, they also turned their attention to identifying the resources required to support the new model gaining ExCo support to grow the function by over 50%, filling critical gaps in the respective delivery teams. In addition to this, the Project One team initiated recruitment for the leadership roles which they themselves were occupying on an interim basis.
By the end of the engagement, the Project One team had managed to land and embed the operating model changes, transition all team members to new roles and successfully hand over to a new Delivery leadership team.
The plan to transition to a new Target Operating Model was highly ambitious particularly as the aviation industry was just starting to get to its feet after emerging from the covid pandemic. It was however necessary to gear the organisation up for new more Agile ways of working and this remains the key outcome of Project One’s support. The Delivery Team are now structured and organised around the Scaled Agile framework and the business has significantly more confidence that IT projects will be delivered as planned. Combined with the diplomatic and collaborative approach of the Project One team, this has led to greater relationships between the business and Delivery teams. With the help of Project One, the customer was well set on a path to full adoption of new, more Agile and collaborative ways of working.
For the end customer, this work has served to build more agile capability through which customers will experience journeys that are more responsive to their needs. Customers will experience swifter enhancements online and other tech-enabled customer touchpoints in the future.
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