2016 has been a very exciting time for us as a company. This is our first full year promoting and bringing the ENGAGE™ product to the UK market and the response has been phenomenal. I have had the pleasure of sponsoring, attending and speaking at many transformation events across the country. I really enjoyed my first LocalGov Camp and found it really useful for learning from colleagues working with GDS and central government about implementing agile in practice. The unconference format I am seeing at more and more events is an excellent way of ensuring the sessions meet the attendees needs.

I would love to see more attendees pitching sessions and less suppliers so guys step out of your comfort zone and pitch a session about something you need in your workplace.

As both a Director but also a consultant in the Public Sector I understand that it is difficult in the current climate to find the time or get permission to attend. I find these events invaluable and the insight I gain from them helps me shape and deliver projects based on learning from others avoiding pitfalls and improving success. So please next year try to attend these events and if you do make sure you share the knowledge you gained back with your organisation to ensure others can also take the time out to attend. I find a single nugget of information picked up at these can more than pay for the cost of me attending, also not all of the events out there cost to attend so seek out those networks and get out there learning.

2016 has been a time of massive change for both the public and private sector with digital transformation continuing to move at pace. As I have said numerous times this year, I am continuously amazed at the transformation achieved in the public sector to just keep the lights on and maintain services but how long can this continue? The private sector has also seen massive changes in the way companies deliver digital services and the way companies are now structured. Have a look here for a short video by Erik Qualman(@equalman) showing just how different the world looks (also listen with the sound up for a great tune).

I find it fascinating to go back to his older videos on YouTube highlighting just how much it has progressed and changed.

2016 has seen a number of early adopters of the ENGAGE™ tools such as Portsmouth City Council, Perth and Kinross Council, North Ayrshire and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing to name a few, as well as maintaining a number of consultants using the tool to help numerous organisations. These clients are using the tools to support digital transformation, agile working and Lean initiatives in their organisations. We have a number of new clients in advanced stages of procurement so watch this space for more new clients. 2016 has also seen us as an ENGAGE™ partner become an Accredited Training Partner (one of only 3) in the UK.

As a cloud hosted piece of software ENGAGE™ provides an excellent tool that can not only save your analysts 30-40% of their time but also help them achieve better outcomes and business cases. The software is a mature product developed for over 8 years in Holland by our partners ENGAGE™ and offers a wealth of features designed specifically to help you (a gold suite licence will cost less than a quarter of your average business analyst salary or 5 days consultancy from one of the big firms). I am so confident in the product we offer free trials and also a free 1 hour webinar to help get you going contact us for more information or to arrange a demo. If it’s good enough for clients like Schiphol Airport in Holland with 58 million passengers, then maybe it is useful to you. Ok sales pitch over!

I am a true process geek and whether you call it Lean thinking, Six Sigma, Kaizan, VSM or any of the other methodologies I am completely sure that the way to survive and thrive in challenging times continues to be to empower your teams to work on the work. Eliminating waste in our processes and delivering customer value will help us deliver in both the public and private sector.

A personal hope of mine for 2017 is that we spend less time procuring a system and fitting our processes into it and more time understanding our processes first then buying something that helps us deliver customer value and eliminate waste.

The important element in all of these methodologies is thinking. It is not a set of steps you follow or copying best practice processes from elsewhere, it is understanding your processes and identifying how you can improve them to deliver customer value and meet your organisations needs. When improving processes it is important the process actors participate in the workshops and not just management. Process actors who do the day to day work and understand the challenges and waste in the system are vital to achieving business improvement and also add additional value by owning the changes identified, communicating with other stakeholders and ensuring a smooth transition happens. In my experience a team can achieve 10-20% quick wins just by undertaking an As Is and To Be process workshop by this I mean changes that can be made to existing software or process to deliver improvements at little or no cost/time.

If you require some more information I have created a business case using ENGAGE™ to compare time saved using ENGAGE™ vs the traditional Post Its and Visio approach. Just use contact us to request it and we are happy to share.

This can be a really challenging process for middle management in the public sector. These workshops turn up waste in the system that sometimes with hindsight it can seem really obvious and potentially damaging to a manager for this to be highlighted in their service. In truth it is only obvious given the right conditions which is an empowered team of process actors with knowledge of the end to end business process, given the time to look at the processes and provide improvement ideas. The best managers I have worked with embrace the culture and the improvements this approach brings after all they are part of delivery of improvements.

This is where I believe the culture of the organisation needs to change. Underpinning Lean thinking is the culture of continuous improvement where everyone is encouraged to participate in continuous improvement. This needs to be led and championed by the top tier of management and regularly discussed to ensure widespread engagement. There are many great examples out there of where this has been used to great effect such as with Dave Brailsford and Team Sky, the Red Arrows debriefs or FedEx days. With newer companies now having much flatter structures with more empowered teams and staff they have effectively taken a degree of the middle management challenge out of the equation.

So for me 2017 is time to empower our teams to improve what they do. Let’s trust them and our approach to deliver business improvements necessary for all our organisations to survive, improve and thrive. Let’s give them the tools to help them do this (ok last pitch!).

Many thanks to the team at ENGAGE™ for the great software, for my training accreditation and for the many process geek discussions. I look forward to seeing you all at many events, demos and workshops in 2017 and discussing all things transformation and business process.

Andrew Sandford
Andrew Sandford Director
Agile guru and process evangelist

Do not miss this opportunity to save money and work more efficiently with Lean effective processes.

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