Local Authorities are constantly challenged to balance between providing statutory services, such as adult social care and refuse collection, and managing other pressures, such as fixing potholes or stimulating local economic growth. This inevitably leads to competing calls for available funding and revenue to ensure that both statutory and discretionary services are delivered to help residents and businesses.
Against that backdrop, it is critical that the cost and resource needs of new initiatives can be analysed effectively against the existing initiatives and programmes already in-train. Choosing whether to continue with an existing initiative, or adopt a new approach, requires an evidence-based decision.
Another perennial challenge is quantifying and qualifying benefits and outcomes. It can be difficult to measure and monitor these once a project has finished unless metrics are agreed at the outset and a baseline set. Metrics need to be set so that it is possible to measure both the financial (cashable/non-cashable) benefits, and - equally important - soft benefits such as improved service outcomes.
Getting the measure
When considering a new initiative, it is helpful to perform ‘demand management triage’ that lets you score the new project against other work. This triage process can provide a score for the initiative and ensures that all the relevant people have been able to view and assess its potential impact on existing work.
In addition a consistent approach ensures that all work – existing and new - is assessed for feasibility and affordability. This way, all work funded by the Local Authority can be regularly checked to ensure that the business case remains in place throughout delivery.
An initiative qualifying through the triage process and passing forward to the next stage (say developing a formal business case) would then be given funding approval to start preparing it as a potential programme or project based on clear, consistent criteria and a measurable set of benefits.
Keeping track of the business case, who approves it and whether they have given their approval is always difficult when there are multiple departments and individuals responsible and accountable for inputting and reviewing. Even business cases not subject to the same rigour as capital spend business cases can be lost in numerous versions or left in limbo awaiting an outlier approver. Managing business cases in a central repository with an easily configurable workflow to ensure the latest version is always available for review and scrutiny, where required, would be ideal.
Approved business cases that spawn projects or programmes should then have a robust plan and set of metrics to measure and track their delivery progress. When you wrap your end-to-end portfolio lifecycle around these three key areas - Initiative, Business Case and Project Delivery - you start to have control over the spend on projects and the measurement of achieved benefits.
Most local authorities, now more than ever, need to do more with less. There is increased demand for services at a time when funding and revenues, particularly from businesses and discretionary services, have taken a huge hit. Any new projects and programmes will, more than ever, need to be subject to scrutiny and offer full visibility and transparency during delivery to ensure that the committed outcomes are achieved.
Consistently successful project delivery, be that of large capital projects like building care homes, or service-based, like the Drug and Alcohol services for children and young people, can only be achieved by applying good practice. Good practice starts at the outset, by assessing the feasibility, cost and benefits, as well as in project delivery itself.
The portfolio management approach often requires a significant cultural shift:
The benefits from this approach makes the effort worthwhile:
The process of delivery is enabled by a set of online tools that facilitate a robust, but also streamlined, end-to-end process of idea capture, evaluation and delivery.
edison365 Demand Management enables you to track, manage and score your initiatives against a set of predefined criteria that reflect the key strategic priorities and requirements of your local authority.
The edison365 Business Case Management tool reflects the needs for robust constitutional governance within your local Directorate and enables precise monitoring, tracking and approvals to ensure the integrity of each target business case against the delivery of the desired outcomes, in line with the size and type of initiative. Finally, the ongoing programme of activity can be managed throughout every stage of the implementation process with edison365 Projects.
This overall approach represents a series of industry benefit management best practices, tailored to the needs of local authorities. They deliver clear and measurable outcomes that reflect all the citizens’ priorities and the target outcomes stated at the commencement of the project. This ensures that there is a consistently high level of clarity, traceability and monitoring that is entirely evidence-based at each stage of project implementation.
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For further information please contact our Public Sector Director, Sue Thomas on email@example.com or call 07989420733