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HOW WE DELIVER SUCCESSFUL AND SUSTAINABLE CHANGE
Our proven track-record of delivering successful and sustainable transformation, in often challenging environments, is based on a consistent approach to managing change. In summary, it’s about being clear up front why and what we need to change, before we collaboratively design, test, and then implement changes to existing ways of working.
We then measure and monitor the success of the changes, both immediately and then 6 to 12 months after implementation, to measure success and take any corrective action required.
STRATEGY AND SUSTAINABILITY
All our Executive and Board Director clients rank strategy and sustainability as one of top three issues on their agendas. While dealing with day to day targets and operational pressures, making the right strategic decisions, in a timely way, is essential to create efficient and sustainable healthcare organisations, at all levels.
The days of glossy and expensive strategy reports that get shelved and never implemented are long gone. Beyond deep sector knowledge and sound strategic thinking, the key to the development and implementation of a successful strategy is executive engagement.
We work with Boards and Executive teams to create alignment around strategic objectives and priorities, based on facts, evidence and vision. We then work with Senior Managers to ensure the right level of buy-in and create the conditions for the successful implementation of the key strategic decisions we helped to make.
FRONT-LINE OPERATIONAL TRANSFORMATION
We are very proud of our work enabling change at the front-line and supporting operational delivery teams. While we will use standard tools and techniques, such as lean, six sigma, process mapping, value-chain analysis and the like, what we also bring to the table is an ability to see the client’s organisation in a different way and challenge the status quo, often delivering fundamental and transformation change.
This comes from years of experience of working with clients across different sizes of organisations and industry sectors, which enables us to know not only where to look for inefficiencies, but also what changes are likely to deliver significant positive change.
On all our projects, we take the time to listen and fully ‘live and breathe’ the client’s operations, to understand how things currently actually work in the ‘real world’ - not just in policy manuals or PowerPoint slides. This will typically cover the perspectives of both management and front-line staff, both administrative and/or technical.
We will then work with the team to identify and design alternative ways of working, both strategic and/or tactical. This will typically cover proposed changes to processes, people and technology/tools, supported by associated incentives and KPIs.
Finally, we will then typically work with a specific team or part of the business to pilot the new ways of working, and amend the approach where required, before rolling-out to the broader organisation.
While we never claim to have the only ‘answer’, or a standard ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, we typically very quickly identify key areas of opportunity and likely required focus. Unlikely many of our competitors, we are also very careful not to assume that implementing a new tool or ‘shiny’ software is the 1st ‘port of call’ or answer to their needs.
COST REDUCTION AND PROCUREMENT
One of the regularly untapped sources of value for an organisation, be it in terms of service or quality delivery, is procurement and contract management.
We regularly see significant opportunities in our clients’ direct or indirect non-pay spend, which is generally poorly understood, unmanaged and fragmented. This is typically the case across all key direct spend categories e.g. raw materials or commodities, or indirect products and services e.g. temporary labour, estates and FM, IT services, HR or professional services.
Furthermore, the irony is that while some of the ‘easy wins’ like office supplies may have received significant attention, we often see large multi-million-pound 3rd party, sub-contract and outsourced contracts broadly untouched from a procurement and contracts perspective, with limited management of the associated service, quality and performance delivery. The procurement team may even have been excluded from these key areas of spend by finance and/or commercial teams.
Indeed, most of our clients can’t even say what they definitively spend on 3rd parties, with whom, or on what, given issues with poor spend categorisation and reporting. While there is huge variation in organisation and sector maturity, procurement often doesn’t get the required investment in appropriate skills, processes and tools, or critical board-level support and recognition. In many organisations, it is often seen as a transactional, back-office function without the capacity or the technical and softer skills to influence the whole organisation, that procurement teams in other organisations may have had in place for many years.
Finally, we also see clients spending a considerable amount of time, energy and investment in pursuing new business, without paying enough attention to their existing 3rd party spend and contracts, as an area which can deliver immediate bottom-line benefits and is typically entirely within their control.
The good news is that building on our past experience in many other sectors, and knowledge of the latest procurement and supply-chain best-practices, is that we know how to rapidly achieve a step-change in procurement and contracting, and have a proven track-record of delivering major financial, service and quality improvement benefits from procurement and contract management for our clients.
BESPOKE TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
However good or expensive their core technology systems may be, many organisations find that there are often specific operational or broader organisational needs that are not covered by their core systems. We also regularly find a proliferation of manual or highly inefficient spreadsheet-based reporting processes that run alongside core systems, creating not only a huge administrative burden, but also inaccurate and untimely data. We also often see countless examples of unnecessary reporting, and of lack of associated insights or decision-making.
While we do not believe that implementing new systems is the answer to every organisational challenge or opportunity, having the right tools is critical to enable effective change, as well to support the day-to-day running of any successful organisation. Over the years, we have rapidly developed a range of simple, low maintenance and extremely cost-effective tools, either entirely bespoke or rapidly tailored to address each client’s specific needs. These include:
The standardisation, replacement and automation of dozens of manual Excel processes and individual spreadsheets with a single VBA and XLS tool, accessible via the web to all users across finance and the broader organisation
A comprehensive bespoke operational management system to manage ward operations on a 24/7 basis and reduce length-of-stay by proactively managing admissions (including mandatory audits), monitoring the patient journey, measuring and monitoring bottlenecks and delays, and then proactively managing the discharge process
A simple tool to capture and measure the value being added by a number of Community Services admission avoidance and accelerate discharge teams working with the local Acute hospital
A bespoke order management suite, enabling the ordering, proactive tracking and management of thousands of orders p.a., including direct links to client-specific product prices, across preferred suppliers. The tool also provides automated finance reports and a range of internal management reports to enable the tracking of critical KPIs, such as product costs, category spend, key supplier compliance, spend by patient type, supplier lead-times and contract breaches
A suite of simple but highly effective spend analysis tools to support initial and ongoing spend categorisation, by a whole variety of dimensions e.g. 3-levels of category hierarchy, spend ‘owner’ and authoriser, business unit, budget code, cost centre. This data was also then summarised via a variety of customisable MI dashboards
A contract management tool to support the proactive monitoring and management of all contracts in place across the organisation, including spend category (linked to all other spend), contract ownership (business/finance/procurement), start and end/renewal dates, value and key terms. This raw data associated with the contract ‘landscape’ was then brought to life in a visually engaging and insightful way via various key management dashboards
In summary, we don’t believe in technology for technology’s sake, and we are very happy if we already find all the right tools in place to successfully deliver change. However, when we find key gaps in enabling tools and technology, our process, analytical and rapid development skills enable us to fill these gaps, in a simple, pragmatic and cost-effective way.
CORPORATE SERVICES TRANSFORMATION
No matter how big or small an organisation may be, one common critical success factor is the quality of their corporate services, from HR to IT, Finance, Quality Management and Reporting.
In our experience, the quality of corporate services varies considerably across organisations and sectors, and often hinders, rather than enables, successful operational service delivery. Busy Executive teams focused on front-line services and profitability often aren’t aware of the frustrations that some front-line teams can experience whilst trying to do their ‘day-job’, despite the significant cost associated with corporate services. Indeed, they are often referred to as ‘back-office’ functions, inferring a lower status from the outset.
As part of our efficiency focus, in addition to looking at the processes, tools and approaches being used by the corporate services teams themselves from the ‘inside-out’, we typically start by focusing on the end-user experience i.e. looking at them from the ‘outside-in’. This enables us to identify overall and/or specific issues and opportunities that corporate services could address that directly support and further enhance front-line service delivery, by freeing-up critical resource time and focus.
Often, this relates to the recruitment process (permanent and temporary), the purchase-to-pay (P2P) process and budgeting / financial reporting as three key examples.
We will then combine the insights gained from both the front-line ‘outside-in’ and corporate teams’ ‘inside-out’ reviews to ensure that central processes are fully aligned with add better value to the front-line, whilst also being as efficient as possible.
In summary, we tend to underestimate the level of investment and management attention required to create high performing corporate functions. Indeed, even if the investment is already there, we need to ensure that the related resources, processes and tools within corporate services teams enable rather than block successful front-line service delivery, and are as cost-effective and efficient as possible.
TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME LEADERSHIP
It is hard to think of a health or care organisation, no matter how big or small, that has not recently embraced a change programme of some sort. Among many success stories, we encountered at least as many examples of slow, stalled or abandoned transformation plans.
The most common reasons of failure include: the lack of a clear case of change, a scope that is too ambitious, a shortage of experienced resources to lead the programme, insufficient executive support and/or a lack of front-line engagement (and even, dare we say it, the quality and approach of external advisors brought in to help!).
We believe that successful change programmes ultimately have to be designed, owned and delivered by client executives, managers and staff. Nevertheless, we are often called in by our clients to help get things back on-track or to help set-up transformation programmes correctly from the outset.
Clarity of vision, objectives and timelines, a strong and compelling case for change for staff and patients, with full executive backing, an appropriate and achievable scope, genuine top-down and bottom-up engagement and sufficient levels of experienced delivery resources, all supported by simple monitoring and communication plans…
These are just some of the key elements that we bring to the organisation, when we help to set-up, deliver or turnaround client transformation programmes.
INNOVATION AND NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Any product-focused organisation will be aware of the ongoing challenge of ensuring competitive advantage through new product development (NPD), whether it be a tangible product or new service. Yet effective new product development is vital for an organisation’s organic growth, risk management, brand and reputation.
However, ever-increasing consumer sophistication and demand, changes in technology, a global supply-chain and increased global competition offer significant challenges and opportunities.
Translating what might be an exceptional creative concept into a commercially viable product and introducing it to the market in a timely way, whilst also staying ahead of the competition, is often a huge challenge.
It requires extensive cross-functional collaboration as new products move through the product development and commercialisation cycle. It also requires process and systems alignment, clarity over decision-making (including associated sales and financial requirements) and the effective use of finite resources. These make it one of the most challenging core business processes to design, implement and sustain.
However, having people, processes and tools fully aligned around a structured NPD approach is what differentiates the leaders from the followers … and we have the expertise and experience to help you: whether it be with setting-up an effective NPD process and/or achieving a step-change in existing NPD performance.