The key to complex change and transformation in the public sector

These are extraordinary times for our country, which are putting additional demands on public sector bodies. From front line NHS hospitals continuing to respond to the challenges brought about by COVID-19 and law enforcement services dealing with continual changes to legislation, through to local Government organisations increasingly supporting the implementation of changes in their areas. 


Alongside the challenges being faced by these parts of the sector, there are central Government departments leading and delivering some of the most complex, national initiatives we have ever seen. And this is at the same time as preparing for other challenges heading our way from the recession, EU Exit and Net Zero Carbon agenda.


All of this is placing significant pressure on the continued delivery of vital change and transformation plans across Government and the wider public sector. It is critical that this change continues to happen successfully, and to ensure that this is the case there is a need for public sector organisations to focus on four key areas:  


  • Ensuring there is a clear view of all the planned and ongoing change  
  • Understanding and managing the impact this change will have on operational and functional teams  
  • Making hard decisions on which change programmes to stop, which to pause and which to continue  
  • Driving the delivery of on-going change and transformation programmes. 



Managing the change landscape across the organisation  


Public sector bodies need to maintain a view of the big picture and manage the overall change landscape across their organisation in a joined-up way. Establishing an enterprise portfolio management office to maintain a clear view of everything that is planned, and all the programmes that are underway, will be key to success. Public sector leaders should look to establish this function early and give it the appropriate mandate to manage the overall change picture within their organisation. 



Assessing the impact of all the change on individual functions  


It is essential that public sector organisations assess the impact that the planned and on-going change is having on the teams in their organisation. High-level functional stories of each change programme must be completed to assess what each business function needs to do to help deliver the change. Combine these into an overall functional change impact assessment for each area, giving an aggregated view which enables a clear series of actions to be defined by focusing on the ‘hotspots’ of the overall change impact. 



Acting decisively through strong governance  


Establishing clear governance across the organisation, and for each change programme, is a critical requirement for public sector organisations. This governance set-up needs to ensure all change forums, such as a Steering Committee, a Programme Board, and a Design Authority, have a laser-sharp clarity of purpose which is understood by everyone. In addition, it is essential to ensure the right, ‘minimum number of necessary’ people are involved in these decision-making bodies, with careful preparation and pre-briefing in place to support effective, rapid decision-making on, and across, all planned and on-going change programmes. The key to complex change and transformation in the public sector.



Delivering change at pace  


Public sector organisations must ensure that there is true transformation programme leadership in place. This will help shape and drive delivery of change programmes and enable senior sponsors to invest their limited time most effectively. This critical capability will focus not only on delivery but on keeping the programme in control and concentrated on results, alongside ensuring the required conditions exist to enable successful change to be implemented and benefits realised. 

We know it’s not easy to bring about change and transformation in any organisation, but the public sector has its own set of unique challenges to deal with in making sure that this focus can be applied and change can be successfully delivered. To help review your current position, you can use our real change diagnostic tool to help identify if your change is on track to deliver and refer back to your assessment to track your progress. Click the banner at the bottom of this page to use the diagnostic. 



Do you need change expertise?  


Project One is actively involved in supporting public sector organisations to deal with these challenges. From central Government departments, NHS functions, public sector arm’s length bodies and regulatory bodies, we are helping to shape, plan and deliver the complex change which is currently being driven across the sector. Take a look at our capabilities and some of the engagements we have been, and continue to be, involved in and get in touch with us to discuss how we can support your ambitions.

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