Transforming for rapid growth in the public sector

Many government and public sector organisations have experienced significant volume growth in recent years, driven largely by the pandemic and by regulatory change.


Managing change in this environment has become increasingly complicated, and has demanded new capabilities, for example to manage the complete organisational-wide demand and prioritisation and to re-organise delivery models to fit.


Project One has been working with one such organisation for the last 18 months, injecting the required capability and capacity to deal with this complex situation. We have been delighted to build a firm partnership and to really drive results.


Our customer had seen an unprecedented and exponential increase in complexity and volume of change because of the response required to support the pandemic. This was not only to deliver the end-product, but also to uplift large parts of the operating model – many processes, controls, structures, technology, and skills needed an injection of maturity to cope with the increased scale, complexity, monetary values, and scrutiny.


Change was rife across the organisation, but the only changes which were visible and being reported on were larger, more corporately aligned changes being managed by the central Change team. Although there was an awareness that the changes being managed locally had also increased at a similar rate in terms of scale and complexity, this was not being managed effectively. This was leading to:


  • An increased risk of ‘bad spend’, as locally managed changes were not subject to consistent governance controls or change delivery lifecycles. Change was often inadequately justified and then poorly managed.
  • An increase in parallel driven activity, with inefficient local approaches not joining up and not exploiting other similar capabilities. This was leading to an excess spend on change.
  • An inability to plan for capacity and skills, and therefore a very reactive approach to resourcing, which ultimately was leading to more expensive solutions.
  • Inefficient and therefore costly management of suppliers, who had multiple entry points and governance across the organisation.

Project One deployed a small team of programme management experts to work alongside the existing central change function. As well as deploying some of the team to specific large-scale programmes, to ensure delivery was driven to plan, the team also started to uplift the governance and controls around change.


Initially this covered developing a new change delivery lifecycle and rolling this out across the change team and in-flight portfolio. The team then started work on bringing all ‘organisation-wide’ change under this new governance. This involved:


  • Gathering data, working with all business areas, to understand the complete picture of changes underway and planned, who was delivering them and using what methodologies, governance approaches and skills
  • Gaining support for introducing more centralised control, using evidence of the volume of locally managed changes and associated risks, together with the impact on people who were managing large scale changes ‘side of desk’
  • Implementing a central assessment and triage process for all new demand – capturing demand before it commenced, using a ranking framework and clearly defined process and governance for prioritising demand, including resource and dependency constraints as part of the decision-making process.

The organisation now has a defined process and a governance model to manage the demand pipeline based on a pilot group of business areas, including roles, skills, technology requirements and artefacts for managing across the portfolio. This includes capacity planning, building a schedule and roadmap of changes, introducing reporting and Exec updates. All levels of management are engaged across the organisation and local points of contact are established within each area.


There is still work to be done, for example, to roll-out across all business areas and to transition ownership to the central change team. The team are also helping with an assessment of portfolio tools, to drive further efficiency and capability uplift. Steps are underway to start to proactively manage the change portfolio, across a forward-planned pipeline of demand.

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