A large government agency had a problem. It was coordinating a multi-agency program of work to accommodate sweeping law change with significant public impact. A prior external audit highlighted notable findings that needed to be addressed. The Executive needed to turn this around and get in front of the next audit.
Mindavation was engaged to conduct an independent deep dive review. This was to be more stringent than what they would encounter in the next scheduled Audit. Mindavation’s focus was to be both on the specific action items already identified, and also to examine any other possible items that could be challenged.
As part of the review, Mindavation identified latent risk in additional items not yet officially raised. This was due to a blind spot in the current tool and process set. If left unaddressed they could cause both audit compliance and project delivery issues. There were 4 key challenges for this engagement. First was the requirement that any tools and approaches that had already been through a prior audit review were to be left unchanged. While limited change was possible, it was only with significant justification and approval by the Executive.
Facilitating changes to program management activities was also challenging. The funding for the program was adequate, however the organisation was skill constrained. They could deliver day to day operation of the agency but not provide the coverage needed to successfully alter the needed program changes at the same time.
The Sponsor for the program and of the review was knowledgeable, dedicated, and worked hard to be available as needed. However, issue ownership inside the agency was a problem. Either there was no team or person who could be identified or there were multiple teams all equally involved in deliverable ownership. This made decision making time consuming and cumbersome. Any recommendation was challenged from multiple teams, each with varying agendas. This created challenges in ensuring that any recommendations were both in the best interest of the wider program, and all the internal teams as well.
Finally, the review was approved as an “official mitigation strategy” for program management related risk. This meant that the Mindavation team had both their personal and professional reputations at stake. The outcome and its impact, was now officially “on the hook” with the agency’s senior leadership team, the audit office and cost management regulator.
A direct approach was taken to provide specific recommendations to the sponsor and her senior project team members. With their support, the Mindavation team constructed recommendations using the following approaches:
- More effective use of existing Program Management tools being used to drive efficiencies & risk management in upcoming stages of the program.
- Where changes to existing Program Management tools were recommended, a series of tangible incremental improvements were identified and tied to the requirements of future program lifecycle steps. This rationalisation reduced the concern for changing tools that had “already satisfied the auditors.
- Management reporting processes & governance were refined. The changes focused on addressing areas where audit findings existed, and were reviewed via widespread sharing of new reports, including with specialist from the government audit organisation.
- A major focus was placed on integrating and rolling up the results of each program management discipline to a single report. For example, ensuring each risk mitigation action had distinct financial decisions and timeframes reflected in cost management plans. This was then reflected in the program milestone schedule and updated to demonstrate timeframes when those mitigation actions (and cost allocation) decisions would have to be made.
- Provide a skills and capability roadmap to entrench new techniques and deliverables for managing the program as recommended. Deliver as required.
All findings were considered resolved, with two remaining on report as “watching briefs” to be re-verified in future reviews.
- Program deliverables were delivered on time, within the revised budget created as amendments to the original legislation were made before becoming law.
- Program deliverable structures and templates are still being used for other programs being managed by the agency.
Mindavation is an international company delivering Initiative Management services, providing strategic and tactical business analysis, program and project management, through to organizational change management. Established in 1999 as a project management training business, Mindavation has provided services in over 16 different countries, to small, medium and large specialist and international businesses. The company’s services have expanded to include program and project delivery, consulting on strategic direction and outsourcing, Initiative Delivery coaching, competency models, and keynotes.
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