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Managing change without disruption

Via Local Government Chronicle : Serco has implemented a change management strategy and approach for Peterborough City Council projects.

The council is undertaking a major transformation programme, aiming to improve user experience and outcomes for residents while delivering savings, managing demand and streamlining services.

As with any transformation programme, it is the people within an organisation who have to change to deliver on the new ways of working and therefore ultimately determine the success or failure of the project.

Serco has implemented a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams and organisations from the way they work currently to new arrangements. The key aim is to deliver beneficial changes with minimum disruption to day-to-day business and with an early return on investment.

Delivering change has its challenges in any environment. Serco has adapted its style to meet the needs of different organisations, but working with a council means there are more considerations and complexities than usual. It was particularly important to consider how a council’s work would be influenced by politicians and the diversity of the services and customers.

The Serco approach is: understand, prepare, implement, embed as outlined below:

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Peterborough’s implementation of Serco’s change management strategy has resulted in:

  • Increased productivity – employees stay on track and move forward during times of change with minimal dip in business performance
  • Improved focus – employees successfully accomplish key tasks and activities which provide closure of any negative concerns
  • Greater job satisfaction – employees identify personal change challenges, better use skills they have, learn new skills and are empowered to seek and share new ways of working
  • Stronger team working – employees develop new ways of working which build and implement team solutions that facilitate positive change
  • Enhanced morale – employees are involved and therefore feel valued and respected; organisations demonstrate commitment to individual success by providing the necessary knowledge, support and tools
  • Sustainable results – employees recognise standardised approach for smooth transition and the resulting effects are judged to be positive and long lasting

The Serco strategy and approach has delivered results:

As part of the ICT strategy the council is making a phased move from Microsoft Office to Google. Phase 1 was implemented in July 2016 and included email, calendar and the introduction of a new way of communicating using hangout chat and video. This was a significant change for staff, requiring dedicated change management to take the people on the journey; it wasn’t just about training on a new system but a change in process and mind-set too.

The change management team worked closely with the project team, supplier and staff. The team analysed the staff stakeholder list alongside knowledgeable colleagues to find out more about the people to ensure the right ways of engagement, communication channels and training methods were used. This made best use of project resource time, ensured high levels of awareness and assisted in the development of desire to change to the new system. To further assist a group of Google guides (champions) were selected to train and become knowledgeable in the Google product. This group of people were respected, well known and trusted by their colleagues to provide them with assistance. The Google guides were pivotal to the people side of the project providing feedback to the project team and advocating the change.

The steady but intense process of raising awareness, building desire, providing the knowledge and developing the ability was critical to people’s change journey, giving opportunity to raise concerns, help the project team and managers to consider the change impacts and reduce resistance. Throughout this journey business readiness assessment was high on the agenda for the change management team and on go live day 2,400 prepared staff went live with Google mail and calendar. This did not mean there were no issues, however anxiety was reduced and embedding was faster resulting in reduced loss of productivity and performance that is often experienced during the early life of new ways of working.

For change managers and Google guides the journey did not stop on go-live day, they continued to work with staff to flag issues, encouraged new ways of communicating through hangout chats and video, promoted successes and looked for ways to continually improve through phase 2 of the project.

This change approach continues to be used throughout Peterborough City Council’s transformation programme to ensure that smarter ways of working are embedded within individual teams to deliver financial savings and efficiencies.

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