Operations & Outsourcing

Delivering Implementation Programmes – Avoiding the Bunkers and Staying on the Green

Sarah Simmonds, Sam Morell

You’ve designed a Target State Middle and Back Office Operating Model, selected Outsourced Partners, and developed an implementation plan. Now the only thing to do is execute delivery and transition to another supplier – sounds easy. So why do a lot of Implementation Programmes go over budget and not meet the plan set out at the start?

Below we share three key factors that are pivotal to the success of Implementation Programmes:

  • Programme Governance: Governance must have buy-in from all parties involved, be sufficiently far reaching in terms of audience, and structured to effectively manage the key challenge and risk areas
  • Diversified Skill Set: The breadth and depth of skills and experience required within the team to navigate and execute the full lifecycle of significant change initiatives is often underestimated
  • Team Spirit: Most programmes are ‘marathons not sprints’ and without harnessing and maintaining motivation in the team, delivery can be impacted.

If these factors are not given the attention they deserve, it can quickly result in a poor working relationship between Provider(s) and Asset Manager, which can be hugely detrimental to the ongoing partnership.

Governance can be unruly, time-consuming, and ineffective if not managed well

Programme governance provides the ‘play-book’ for how the Implementation Programme is structured and how the parties and their teams engage. Providers and Asset Managers are structured differently and carry different responsibilities, so it is common for them to adopt their own governance framework. If these do not dovetail, there will be inefficiencies across the programme and delivery will not be optimised. This is often compounded by the misconception that once the governance is established it must be rigidly adhered to throughout. Implementation Programmes evolve throughout delivery, and therefore an effective governance framework encompasses flexibility to review and make changes to meet the programme’s needs.

To ensure effective programme governance the Implementation Programme should look to promote the following during mobilisation:

  1. Establishing and employing a Joint Governance framework between Asset Manager and Provider(s). This ensures the programme operates as one team. Aligned to this is having joint artefacts which all parties stand behind; the most critical being the delivery plan
  2. Agreeing and communicating clear roles and responsibilities for all involved in the Implementation Programme. Taking the time at the outset to discuss this with the team to gain buy-in will be hugely beneficial. Roles and Responsibilities should span the full spectrum of resources including Programme Directors, Programme Sponsors and BAU teams
  3. Designing the right workstream framework and structure. Implementation Programmes are often complex and encompass multiple service areas of the business that are set to go on a journey of change. Employing a dynamic multi-dimensional framework that consists of ‘vertical’ workstreams that represent functional areas (e.g. Front Office) and ‘horizontal’ workstreams which drive the mutual phases of work (Design, Build, Test), can significantly help the programme succeed.

Implementation Programmes need to be adequately resourced with multi-skilled resources

Implementation Programmes are multi-faceted, and with the growing trend towards full ‘Front-to-Back’ Operating Model implementations, there is a need now more than ever to ensure programmes are suitably resourced from the outset. However, it is common that implementation programmes kick-off with a lean team at both, made up of those most readily available.

Project Sponsors should be mindful of the following in approaching their resourcing plans, and assembling their programme team:

  1. Selecting resources with the right experience for the roles and leveraging industry networks to assist with recruitment. It is vital to build a programme team with a diverse but complimentary skill set. Key profiles should include: those with SME industry knowledge who have experience in delivering similar programmes; those from within the Asset Manager who have an excellent understanding of the current state operating model; and PMO roles that manage and drive delivery.
  2. Ensuring the resourcing plan is adequate for the long road ahead and is actively managed with regular reviews. Factors to account for include crunch periods in the programme, downtimes and outages, cover for holiday, and ringfencing BAU programme resources. Adequately resourcing the programme from the start so working patterns are manageable, and delivery is achievable is vital, and will set the foundations for good team spirit.

Implementation Programmes are often multi-year, with a reliance on people to share expert knowledge. Ensuring delivery is sustainable and the team is motivated can safeguard delivery

Implementation programmes usually bring significant change to the Asset Manager’s business which inevitably impacts its people, especially in the case of outsourcing. The programme team is likely to include key internal SMEs who have intricate knowledge of the current operating model and who are therefore critical resources. These same resources may not have a BAU role available to them following programme completion. It is thus vital for these resources and the wider programme to create an enjoyable and sustainable working environment and continuously endeavour to maintain motivation within the team.

Here are some initiatives that we have seen in successful implementation programmes that can help promote team spirit and motivation:

  1. Adopting an engagement model that communicates to the wider business regular programme successes and how the team is delivering the business strategy. Within the programme, offering ample opportunities for individual ‘shout-outs’ to highlight specific endeavours
  2. Regular socials, including joint engagements between Asset Manager and Provider programme teams. This will enable people to interact with others across the programme and build relationships outside of a work setting. In person meet-ups to celebrate significant programme milestones can provide a positive boost, especially in a hybrid working environment
  3. Creating open forums/ anonymous feedback mechanisms for both monitoring motivation within the team and providing the opportunity to suggest initiatives that could make help team morale
  4. Establishing a compulsory break in the programme to allow the full programme team to take a break and recharge. For example, it is often beneficial all round to accommodate furlough into the plan.

In summary, there are many potential pitfalls of implementation programmes, which are not limited to those discussed. However, if the programme governance and team profile are approached with due consideration, and the scene is set for a motivated and sustainable working environment, delivery stands a much higher chance of success by ‘avoiding the bunkers and staying on the green’.

Contact Us

Alpha has supported the industry’s largest and highest profile global outsourcing deals over the past decade and longer, supporting the implementation of more than $5 trillion in AUM through outsourcing.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid these common pitfalls, and how Alpha can help – whether that be at the start or during your implementation journey – please reach out to Alpha here.

About the Authors

Sarah Simmonds
Associate Director

Sarah is an Associate Director at Alpha leading work across Alpha’s Operations practice. She has extensive experience leading numerous Operations Transformation projects. Her experience means she has a deep understanding of key risks and best practices in delivering large Operations transformations and ensuring these projects run to plan whilst creating a sustainable relationship between Asset Managers and Third Parties.

Sam Morell
Senior Manager

Sam is a Senior Manager at Alpha and a key member of Alpha’s Operations Practice. He has a wealth of experience in delivering complex Transformation Programmes with specific expertise in Outsourcing transitions and M&A Op Model consolidations. Sam has worked on both the Asset Manager and Provider side and has a firm understanding of ‘what it takes’ to deliver to plan, whilst fostering a strong working relationship between the parties to the benefit of the new BAU partnership.