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Why project management training and software solutions are vital for local government

By Sophie Brown, Commercial Director of Flowlio

As a project-management training and software company, working within central and local government, social housing and with SMEs, we see organisations faced with similar challenges and having to deal with the same issues, again and again. These include a disjointed approach to delivering change and transformation projects, people working in silos and inconsistency in the way projects and new tech are introduced into everyday work.

In few sectors is this truer than in local government. With increasingly stringent regulatory standards, the recent council elections and a possible new national government just months away, the need for effective project delivery and change management is a top priority.

By following some key principles, investing in people and using strong software solutions, many common project-management challenges can be overcome. Projects can realise the true potential their creators had in mind for them, they can save time and money, boost staff engagement and efficiency, and deliver better outcomes for the public.

We have recently completed a huge piece of work for a local authority based in the North West, who were embarking on a Cloud- migration programme. Firstly, they engaged us to review the project. They then asked us to help design and support the implementation of a new target operating model. This involved the establishment of new ways of working and crucially setting up a PMO to support the delivery of the council’s strategic plan. We trained the team in project management fundamentals, sharing our knowledge and providing tools to ensure that future projects are delivered efficiently and result in the best outcomes for the council and the public. Our work with the council has been a very good example of how to establish excellent project-management practices in local government and other organisations.

An important place to start, for an overall idea of your ability to deliver projects, is an in-depth governance review. It’s important to look at issues such as the way projects are established, managed and closed out, as well as how staff communicate, ownership and accountability within projects, and measuring and realising the benefits and outcomes that are expected to be delivered.

It’s vital to look at your team’s skills to make sure they are able to not only work on a project, but implement the outcomes on an everyday basis. We look particularly at project managers’ skills and how they are able to communicate the aims and actions needed for a successful result. We also look at staff perception of projects, to make sure it aligns with senior leaders’ visions.

Our analysis of all these issues combines to give our clients a holistic view of whether their projects are achievable or in trouble.

It’s also crucial that there is a clear business case for doing a project, with a golden thread back to organisational objectives. This ensures alignment and makes sure time and resources are used effectively, not wasted, and that the project remains on a critical success path.

Organisations must always look for the points at which a new project may overlap with other pieces of work or affect existing processes. You should ensure that there is good engagement between key stakeholders and so that no one is left confused or disgruntled and economies of scale can be achieved.

One of the key problems we see, particularly when helping with a technology project, is that outside companies often have their own methodology and project managers and are very focused on simply installing a piece of tech or other solution in an organisation. What gets missed is engaging the workforce on the benefits of the new tech and training them to use it. It’s a mistake to simply get IT teams to sort out a project and the tech provider to deliver it, without much other joined-up company thinking. If the staff aren’t ready for it or fully onboard with it, it is likely to be a massive failure.

Another vital aspect of project management, that many organisations don’t fully get to grips with, is transitioning the project into business as usual. If a new project feels dumped onto employees, without careful and transparent integration, it creates chaos, duplication of effort, people not working as a team and pointing the finger at each other, when things go wrong. Suppliers, too, must be fully made aware of how a new way of working fits in with them.

Working with clients we can tie all the various factors together to make sure that any project has a high success factor within any public sector organisation.

After the implementation of the new target operating model for our council client, our training has equipped the team with the key tools needed to self-manage projects sufficiently going forward. These include stakeholder mapping tools, planning tools, budget trackers and risk and issues management tools.

Public sector organisations need to make sure that everyone involved in the delivery of projects is trained in a methodology, like Flowlio’s, so they don’t work in silos, overlapping and bumping up against others’ efforts and creating risk for an organisation and the people they employ and serve.

Flowlio’s Ofqual government-accredited training course and our new end-to-end SaaS solution give people an overview and visibility on projects, right across the board. There are no hiding places for people not performing or engaging with an initiative.

People must have the right tools to develop and implement projects. They need to be prepared for any potential changes in work methods. Giving staff the tools they need to deliver successful projects is vital, we’ve seen many projects fail due to inadequate systems and information not being available, poor audit trails and single points of failure. It’s important to get access to the right information, in one place, and have a high-level overview and a detailed view of project performance. Our SaaS solution provides just that and more, it’s an enterprise-wide solution with end-to-end workflow and alerting, enabling teams to deliver joined-up change projects.

Having the right tools and systems enable people to do things quickly, because they strip out bureaucracy. They help avoid mission creep and allow project teams to deliver and close projects effectively.  Our portfolio manager and performance dashboards provide visibility and transparency of project performance, helping senior leaders to make informed decisions, and Flowlio’s benefits recognition tool clearly shows senior leaders the worth of an initiative.

Project management can be a costly headache in large, complicated public sector bodies. But with software and training solutions from companies like Flowlio, it doesn’t have to be.

For more information about Flowlio’s project-management SaaS, training solutions visit www.flowlio.co.uk

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