Reviews and Strategic Planning

AOT Consulting provides various types of reviews that are designed to align to various stages of an initiatives’ lifecycle. Independent reviews are often undertaken when an organisation reaches a point in the lifecycle of an initiative where it has been operating for a period of time and want to obtain an objective view.

Reviews may take into consideration the broader perspective such as the developing new or enhanced strategies, reviewing the strategic alignment of initiatives or responding to community needs. Conversely, reviews may be more focussed such as reviewing performance, effectiveness, efficiency, compliance, value for money, commercial contracts, realisation of benefits and so on.

AOT Consulting has also undertaken independent reviews that have been prompted by external events such as government policy or where there is provision in legislation to undertake periodic reviews.
Whilst undertaking reviews and strategic planning are two separate services they are closely interrelated because strategic planning requires a level of review to be undertaken and the methodology we use has many similarities.

There are two aspects of this service
This service is designed to assist organisations to develop and plan for new initiatives or review the opportunities for improvement of existing initiatives. There can be many dimensions to this service such as developing strategic plans, analysis of business processes, application of business systems and enterprise technology planning.

Business Planning and Analysis (Strategic and Operational)

This service is designed to assist organisations to develop and plan for new initiatives or review the opportunities for improvement of existing initiatives. There can be many dimensions to this service such as developing strategic plans, analysis of business processes, application of business systems and enterprise technology planning.
Another dimension is to assist with the development of a business case to substantiate initiatives and return on investment.
AOT Consulting has developed an 8-stage methodology, which has been used to guide the development of undertaking feasibility studies, developing strategic plans, preparing business cases and supporting plans.

The methodology is customised to suite each engagement, though generally comprises most of the following elements:

  • Strategic alignment and business context analysis.
  • Needs identification.
  • Undertaking market research/feasibility studies (including market sounding and / or stakeholder engagement).
  • Process modelling and analysis.
  • Financial analysis and return on investment.
  • Commercial structuring.
  • Options analysis.
  • Development of sourcing strategies and procurement models.
  • Preparation of risk management plans that are aligned to agency risk frameworks.
  • Benefits realisation and cost/benefit substantiation.
  • Business case preparation (various types e.g. funding submissions, procurement, etc.).
  • Presentation of findings.

At the beginning of the lifecycle, we will often be working at a strategic planning level or business case level and as such we do not get down to the detail of business process modelling, analysis or requirements unless the business case warrants it. However, we are cognisant when developing business cases that strategic directions or business initiatives will ultimately lead downstream to the business requirements in more detail and will frame the overarching outcomes, benefits and objectives to reflect an organisation’s strategic and operational business needs. We keep in mind that what is produced facilitates moving into more detailed analysis irrespective of who undertakes the next stage.

From an operational perspective, we usually undertake business process modelling first and map the existing business processes using cross functional process mapping techniques to provide a baseline. We use both horizontal and vertical designs, depending on the requirement. If a client such as WA Police has a specific design standard and method that is required, we will use that, though we like to have the opportunity to comment on the efficiency and effectiveness of such standards because some can be more onerous than others. We anticipate the use of standards for your particular panel will be critically important otherwise you will have different organisations delivering business analysis ’products’ that may not be consistent.

The reason for undertaking the business analysis can also influence our approach and the depth and breadth of the analysis. For example, we understand in WA Police that some of the systems are aging but are otherwise serving the needs of the business well, particularly as they have been subject to several years of refinements. Where there is existing systems with limited documentation, though fundamentally serving the business needs but the underlying architecture is aging and needs replacing, the emphasis may be less focussed on business improvements and more focussed on system replacement or transformation. The emphasis on business process modelling that drives increased efficiency and effectiveness may rate less important to transforming a system to a contemporary architecture and taking the opportunity to make some improvements (unless the benefits need to be quantified). We are cognisant however that the focus is on reform and no doubt WA Police would like to identify opportunities that have less impact on the underlying information systems. The purpose of making this point is that the two are often intrinsically linked.

Once a baseline business model has been developed however, sometimes we find the future-state model can be relatively straight-forward with reform projects. This was the case with the Seniors Card replacement system to some degree and also the Working with Children Screening Unit Management System. Whilst both projects identified several business improvements, the fundamental purpose of these underlying systems did not materially change.

Our approach to project management is to capitalise on a totally integrated set of skills, expertise and experience that provides a combination of services, which is broader than the conventional project management role. This is because we believe in addition to the traditional elements of project management such as project schedules, resource management, etc., there are other dimensions that are equally important and need to be managed to ensure the overall success of the project.

From a strategic perspective it is important to ensure that the project is being undertaken for a business reason and that it forms part of an overall sequence of activities that contribute to an overall strategic outcome.

Managing risks is another crucial element that is often talked about but not fully integrated into a project to ensure that risks are identified and managed accordingly in context to what is to be achieved. We ensure that project risks are not just an isolated product of risk assessment but are able to be translated into something that needs to be planned for and be able to be dealt with should an event occur that triggers a risk situation. We use a ‘risk proximity’ to identify the proximity of the risk in accordance to the schedule so that we do not spend time at every project meeting going through risks that will not occur for [say] until a contract has been formed.

As part of the project management, we believe projects that are part of a reform program must engage stakeholders and manage communications, which is an area that is often forgotten and we believe that it is important to get a sense of the stakeholder environment and agree a communication plan so that the overall project is viewed as a positive experience for all of those involved. We have found over the past 24 years that effective communications is one of the most vital success factors to delivering a project.

We also believe that it is important to integrate quality management disciplines into the project to ensure that there are clear requirements and deliverables, identified internal review points, tasks, sign-off and close-out processes. This is particularly important for preparing and managing transition plans to ensure that they are thorough and representative of the deliverables either from a business, functional or technical perspective. Embedding quality management disciplines also reduces potential ambiguity of who is responsible for outputs and outcomes.

Given that the Request has stipulated that WA Police presently uses, and has a continuing preference for the use of PRINCE2® and MSP® methodology in all programs and projects undertaken in its organisation, the approach we will adopt is to use the PRINCE2® and MSP® frameworks.

As outlined previously, all the proposed Personnel have completed the PRINCE2® training to Foundation level and have also completed the PRINCE2® Practitioner exams. More importantly however, is the experience in using these frameworks. AOT Consulting adopted MSP® and PRINCE2® in 2009 as the primary frameworks for managing programs and projects and has integrated its service delivery with MSP® and PRINCE2® where applicable. We have also integrated aspects of our quality management system (QMS) into the PRINCE2® framework such as in-process reviews which do not feature as such in the PRINCE2® model. PRINCE2® in effect assumes if there is a QMS, the project will use it. Stakeholder Engagement and Management for example is predicated on MSP®. Benefit Management is another area that we have framed our services around MSP®.

AOT Consulting was also engaged by Perth Zoo to assist with the design and implementation of a Project Management Framework, which was based upon PRINCE2®.

Whilst Lorna Mackie has not completed the MSP® training we have not been overly concerned about this because of Lorna’s experience in program management, particularly the foundations that stemmed from BankWest. Lorna is fully conversant however with MSP®. If it became a determinant factor in utilising Lorna’s skills, knowledge, expertise and experience, AOT Consulting would be prepared to invest in Lorna completing the MSP® and Foundation and Practitioner exams. Lorna however has an excellent understanding of WA Police’s implementation of MSP® and PRINCE2® having worked on establishing the PFO in Business Technology, which will be highly beneficial.

Mark Sandhu has completed the MSP® Foundation and Practitioner exams.

Figure 5 below illustrates the full PRINCE2® 2009 framework, which underpins our approach, though using the WA Police methodology as required.

This particular representation of PRINCE2® appears quite daunting at first glance, but it represents tools of the trade (so to speak) most of which are developed and used to manage projects. Some of these require endorsement/approval by the Program Board/s, though it is worth noting that only 8 of the ‘products’ listed would generally need to go to the Program Board (though this depends on your internal Project Management framework) – Project Board as listed in Figure 5.

We have found in practice that project stakeholders often want to know how risk is going to be managed; how quality is to be assured; how project controls such as time, cost and scope will be managed and so on.

The project management framework provides the requisite controls.

Part of our role that underpins the approach is to put the framework to full effect, though without it being overly burdensome for the project stakeholders.