30 March 2012

A ten point checklist for change programmes in the public sector


A previous blog posting looked at evidence of how change programmes designed to save money and streamline shared services in UK Central Government appear to have come off the rails during delivery.  Obviously, none of these programmes set out with the intention of failing and, presumably, they had business cases considered “robust” by those who approved them. Most involved private sector consultancies and IT companies with contractual delivery targets, undoubtedly intended to reduce the risks of failure to the public purse based on their expertise.

Yet half a billion pounds of overspend and several invalidated business cases later, another round of “lessons learnt” are being collated with some common themes emerging from the inquiry reports.

Shared Services have a history in the back office, but also remain a major focus of front office changes to save efficiency and improve the customer facing experience of public services.

In this article, we go back to basics on “business transformation” and look at the fundamental essentials that must be in place – and continually monitored – throughout a programme to change service delivery.  Getting the essentials right can't be overlooked when your shared services programmes have a direct impact on the taxpaying customer.

16 March 2012

Reforming New Zealand's public services

Learning from the mistakes of the UK shared services programmes

New Zealand Government is changing; its agenda to become leaner and more efficient – to do more with less. The release of New Zealand Treasury’s annual report on back-office performance – and the opportunities for future savings it identifies – has surfaced the inevitable tension in the press between Ministers seeing “room for improvement” and public sector unions seeing “overly ambitious” targets and job cuts.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent so far, with tens of millions of dollars saved. John Key’s speech of 15th March 2012 makes it clear that the New Zealand Government’s plan demands better results for the taxpaying customer, with fewer resources. Efficiency improvement is an unavoidable situation, with ‘shared services’ and increasing use of technology already highlighted as chosen routes.


As these approaches move from back-office to front office, the risk of a visible and immediate impact on the taxpaying customer service in the event of problems becomes ever greater.