ENHANCING INNOVATION AND AGILITY
Accenture is one of the premier global suppliers of IT services.
In response to its clients’ requests for more immediate and innovative solutions to their problems and a desire to be a bigger part of the fabric of UK plc, Accenture’s UK Managing Director wanted to increase the organisation’s engagement with SMEs. Although there was much discussion within the client about working more effectively with SMEs, more rapid progress needed to be made. This was because there was little information available about the costs and benefits of working with SMEs.
The key challenge was therefore to provide Accenture with relevant information about the benefits and potential costs of working with SMEs so an informed decision could be made about how to proceed.
We worked with the Managing Director of Geographic Operations in the UK and a Managing Director in Accenture’s central government practice to identify and provide the required information. This included:
Articulating and demonstrating the outcomes and benefits that Accenture should expect from working more effectively with SMEs
Helping Accenture to understand what the SME market has to offer, how it should find SMEs with relevant solutions and how it should best engage with these SMEs
Providing insights into what others were doing with SMEs and advising what should be done to get ahead of the competition
Articulating the rationale for SMEs to engage with Accenture and what Accenture should do to make it easier and more attractive for SMEs to engage
Articulating how to turn conversations about working with SMEs into action
Highlighting the opportunity that Accenture would miss (and one of its competitor’s could seize) to differentiate itself from the competition and to create growth opportunities if it did not work more effectively with SMEs.
Accenture changed the way it works in one of its key business units so Executives engage SMEs that bring additional benefits to Accenture and its clients. Accenture is now working to roll out this new way of working across its UK business.
What they say about the engagement
‘Your independent and experienced view of the SME market has helped to paint a much more holistic picture of what needs to be done and to galvanise the organisation into action in a polite and professional way. You have done a great job of doing that – thank you!’ David Sawyer, Managing Director, Geographic Operations, Accenture UK and Ireland.
‘The work you have done is fantastic’, Mark Smith, Managing Director, Health and Public Service, Accenture UK and Ireland.
ACQUIRING NEW BUSINESS
Redweb is an award-winning digital agency with an annual turnover of around £6m that helps brands engage with their audiences. Redweb generates around 50% of its business from the UK public sector.
Redweb enjoyed a fruitful relationship with central government organisations for around 4 years. At the end of this period, its framework agreement was not renewed. Although Redweb was investing in a consortium focused on central government to generate more business, and central government had an aspiration of awarding 25% of its business to small and medium-sized enterprises, Redweb’s revenues from central government started to fall short of the business’ aspirations, threatening its public sector heritage. Redweb therefore wanted to understand what opportunities existed in the public sector for its services and how to reach them so its public sector heritage was sustained and its revenues from the public sector grew again.
We devised and executed a programme to research the opportunities that existed in central government for Redweb’s services and how it should access them. We interviewed six ideal clients or those close to them to establish whether or not Redweb’s services were of interest to central government departments and what Redweb should do differently to access them.
Findings from the research revealed that Redweb’s services would be valued by central government and identified new ways for Redweb to access them. Redweb subsequently increased its focus on opportunities in central government and changed the way it accessed them. As a result, its revenues from central government are growing again.
What they said about the engagement
‘Alexoria assisted us greatly by initially gaining a good understanding of our business and our work to date with government organisations. After that, their knowledge of the public sector and thorough research assisted us greatly in developing our strategy for engaging with a rapidly changing public sector environment.’ Luke Platt, Director, Redweb.
REDUCING COSTS BY $MM
EDS (an HP company) is a leading global technology service provider delivering business solutions to its clients. It employs nearly 120,000 personnel and has annual revenues of over $20bn.
In response to significant pressures to increase productivity and enhance the services delivered to its clients, EDS restructured its delivery organisation, transferring personnel to newly created business units responsible for delivering services to individual clients.
One of the newly created business units – which had been set up to deliver services to one of EDS’ biggest clients – was due to inherit a multi-million-dollar productivity target from the old delivery organisation. But the executive leadership team of the new delivery organisation was not confident that the targets could be met.
The key challenge was therefore to validate whether or not the productivity target could be met.
We worked with key members of the business unit to:
Identify the contribution that each part of the business unit would make to the overall productivity target
Identify and assess the detailed initiatives that were in place to meet the overall target
Report on the feasibility of meeting the overall target, including identifying gaps and risky initiatives
Specify the mechanisms for tracking progress and how they should be implemented.
Initiatives that were expected to deliver $34m of the $62m productivity target were identified and assessed. Mechanisms were put in place to track progress of these initiatives so that the savings were delivered. In addition, a shortfall of $28m of cost reduction initiatives was identified, together with the causes of this shortfall.
What they said about us
‘You know what to do and you get on with it. We wouldn’t have got nearly this far without you.’ Mark Manser, EDS Vice President and Regional Operations Director for EDS’ business with the Department for Work and Pensions.
EMBRACING SMES' SOLUTIONS
Hewlett Packard (HP) is one of the leading suppliers of ICT products and services to the UK public sector.
In response to Government’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) agenda, HP was following an opportunistic and account-based approach to including solutions from SMEs in its supply chain. It had recognised that it needed to change the way it worked so that it could include solutions from SMEs in its propositions and win its fair share of Government contracts as a result.
The key challenge was therefore to develop a new way of working with SMEs that met the needs of HP, Government and SMEs, and which would help HP win its fair share of business from UK Government.
A small, focused team, led by the Managing Director of Alexoria, developed a strategy and semi-quantitative business case for changing the way the HP worked with SMEs so that all parties benefited. The work included:
Soliciting requirements from SMEs, Government and the client for working together, including identifying the key issues that needed to be addressed for all parties to work together effectively
Developing a sustainable business model for working with an ecosystem of SMEs that both met the requirements and addressed the issues above
Taking account of what other IT service providers were doing in response to Government’s SME agenda to ensure that the overall proposition would be adequately differentiated
Identifying the expected benefits of working with the right kinds of SMEs in the right ways and putting mechanisms in place to ensure that they were delivered
Aligning the strategy with other relevant supply chain and SME initiatives
Developing a high-level implementation plan for the new business model.
Key stakeholders were unanimous in their recommendation to implement the strategy, which showed how responding to Government’s SME agenda in the right way would help increase HP’s win rate and market value, and launched a project to implement it.
What they say about the engagement
‘This is one of the best pieces of consulting I have seen’, says David MacKeith, Director of Portfolio and Service Strategy. ‘Graham is able to speak authoritatively and in an informed way for the SME community, and acted as their conscience throughout the process. He followed a structured approach to building up a compelling argument for investment, including clarifying the benefits that everyone should expect and how they would be delivered’.
The client is a very successful growing reseller of service management software and associated services. It has an annual turnover of around £15m which has been growing at 30% year on year. It has some 180 customers, predominantly made up of the IT departments of blue-chip organisations.
The business was growing at 30% year on year and has a track record of 32 quarters of profitability. It had set itself a target to increase its revenues and profitability significantly over the next 3 years. It wanted to reduce its dependency on generating revenues from reselling software as this was affecting the company’s valuation and had identified exploiting its domain expertise as an opportunity to grow revenues from different sources. It was therefore looking to understand the likely demand for services based on its domain expertise so that it had a solid basis on which to focus its business development efforts.
How Alexoria Contributed
The client engaged Alexoria to conduct research into the likely demand for services based on its domain expertise. Alexoria contributed by:
Helping to define the focus of the research, in terms of the markets on which to focus, the prospects to be interviewed and the services to be researched
Defining the research questions to be asked
Conducting the research interviews
Summarising the findings from the research and recommending a way forward.
The findings from the research showed that there was unlikely to be significant demand for the new services that the client was proposing to provide. In addition, the research identified demand from customers for additional services in the client’s principal area of expertise. The client subsequently capitalised on these opportunities and generated additional revenue streams from them.
What They Said About Alexoria
“Alexoria helped us frame the opportunities and assess them in a more rigorous way than we would have been able to do on our own” – Chief Executive, Software Reseller.
STREAMLINING SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
The client is a private equity owned, UK based software and IT services business with a strategy of growing both through acquisition and organically. It has a turnover of around £250m per year, an international client base and employs around 3,000 personnel.
The client saw an opportunity to reduce the cost of developing its software products by moving development from the UK to India. It therefore acquired a software development business that had a significant development capability in India, with the ability to expand this easily. Initially the client struggled to articulate what needed to be done to use this development capability effectively. It became evident that because the client had grown through acquisition, it did not have a standard way of developing software across its business units. Consequently, it was struggling to assess whether the specifications of its new software products were sufficient for the Indian operation to develop. In addition, it did not have a standard way of managing the development of individual software products.
Initially we worked with key executive stakeholders to establish what needed to be done to use the development capability in India effectively and to obtain buy-in to a compelling rationale for introducing a standard way of developing software. Subsequently we worked as a key member of a small client team that led the specification and introduction of standard software development practices. We:
Secured buy in for the change and an outline plan to introduce new working practices
Researched and consolidated the specification of market leading software development practices. This included:
Assessing and embracing good agile development and client practices
Specifying a way of appraising and developing new software products from an early concept to rolling out the new software product to clients
Specifying how the effort and cost of developing software products should be estimated, and how the development of individual products should be planned
Specifying how the quality of software products should be assured
Developed a detailed approach to introducing the new software development practices and subsequent enhancements to the client’s software development business units
Helped to address issues as the new practices were introduced.
The client is on track to reduce the cost of developing its high priority software products by at least 30% by using its development capability in India.
What the Product Strategy Group Said About the Engagement
‘Graham really helped us to bring some structure to the situation and get organised. He brought his experience and worked with us to turn our conversations into action. We got moving faster and made much faster progress as a result.’ Product Strategy Director
Formed in 1995, the Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Office of Science and Technology which itself is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It employs around 2,000 personnel and has an annual turnover of about £170m.
Although the Council’s IT Department had successfully changed in recent years from a loss-making organisation to one that broke even, it was struggling to convince its key customers that it was delivering a professional, value for money service. As such, it was under intense pressure to reduce costs, improve the level of service that it delivered and improve the transparency of its activities.
The key challenge was to design and implement an IT organisation with the right number of people in the right roles that enabled the Council to achieve its business objectives. The organisation needed to:
Significantly improve standardisation and uniformity
Increase the transparency of its activities
Improve executive sponsorship for IT
Reduce resource costs, if possible
Embed a culture of service delivery
Develop a shared understanding of the services to be delivered across the organisation.
A small, focused team, co-led by the Director of Alexoria and two senior representatives from the Council’s market-facing business units, designed and introduced a target operating model for a new Corporate Information and Communications Technology (CICT) organisation. The team, which was predominantly staffed with personnel from the Council’s existing IT departments, based the number of resources needed on a solid estimating model driven by the required services and service levels. This included:
Defining the services and service levels to be delivered and aligning them with the needs of key customers
Designing an overall organisation for IT, including the boards that set the direction for IT, the structure of the overall organisation together with roles, responsibilities and reporting arrangements
Identifying the policies, processes and standards that specified how the organisation will operate
Aligning the aspirations of personnel in the existing organisation with the organisation’s objectives
Defining a plan to implement the new organisation and putting the organisation in place
Identifying the benefits to be delivered and further continuous improvement opportunities
Aligning executive level stakeholders with the overall direction being taken.
A new CICT organisation with 15% fewer staff is being implemented, predominantly through voluntary departures or reallocation of staff to front-line roles
Opportunities have been identified to reduce number of staff by a further 10% to 15%
Service delivery has been improved by clearly defining services, service levels and responsibilities for delivering them
Key customers are empowered to make local decisions about service priorities
There is a shared understanding across the Council of the services and service levels to be delivered
There is improved alignment of expectations between the IT organisation and its key customers
The Council’s Executive Board has agreed that the organisation will comply with business-focused policies and standards
The new organisation is aligned with industry standards and the e-Government Unit’s Shared Services and IT Professionalism initiatives.
What they Said about the Engagement
‘I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve resolved what to do with IT. 6 months ago, if anyone had told me that we would have completed this exercise by now, I wouldn’t have believed them.’ Member of the Executive Board and overall Programme Director.
REDUCING TIME AT WORK
The client is one of two Founding Directors of a credit sub-servicing company. The company was founded in 2015 and now manages an investment portfolio of over €1.2bn with around 100 employees.
After successfully building the business, the Founding Director wanted to reduce his involvement to spend more time with his family and create their dream home in south west London. It was not clear how he could reduce his involvement while still sustaining the business.
Graham and the Founding Director explored the situation, challenges and key options in semi-structured discussions. Within a week they had developed an agreed action plan for him to reduce his involvement while ensuring that the business would be sustained. The Director subsequently implemented the plan.
As a result of the discussions, the Founding Director is reducing his involvement in the business and spending more time with his family (as well as releasing €30m of equity).
What the Client said about Graham
‘Graham’s searching and thoughtful approach quickly brought the key issues and opportunities into clear focus; his rational and structured thinking quickly clarified the best way forwards. His coaching put my mind at ease.’ Founding Director and Board Member, Credit Sub-Servicing Company.
REDUCING THE RISK OF CUTS
The client was the information systems (IS) department of one the largest County Councils in the UK. The Council employs around 12,000 personnel and has an annual budget of around £2.7bn.
The Chief Information Officer was looking for opportunities to reduce the risk of the IS department being the subject of forthcoming funding cuts. He was keen for the department to generate revenues from providing its services to other organisations to help close the Council’s funding gap. His leadership team was less convinced of the opportunity or of the department’s ability to exploit it. This was holding the department back from investing in such initiatives and was placing it in line to be the subject of the forthcoming cuts.
We worked with the IS leadership team to:
Understand what needed to be done to persuade the leadership team that the IS department should provide its services to other organisations
Persuade them to explore the opportunity
Clarify the IS department’s target market and the services it should provide
Articulate its trading objective and revenue aspiration
Articulate how the department should position itself in the minds of its ideal customers
Consolidate and increase the department’s focus on its opportunity pipeline and progress specific, significant opportunities
Consolidate and assess the key issues that needed to be addressed for IS to achieve its trading objective and revenue aspiration, including engaging other departments within the Council and identifying how they should help IS to achieve its objectives
Start to put structured mechanisms in place to increase the department’s focus on its opportunity pipeline and to address the key issues so that it could make faster progress towards achieving its trading objective and revenue aspiration.
As a result of the engagement, the Council’s Information Systems (IS) leadership team:
Developed a shared aspiration of what the IS department should aim to achieve, in terms of the growth of its business, the markets on which it should focus and the services it should offer
Agreed that it should aim to more than double the size of its business over 5 years and continue to reduce the taxpayer burden by providing affordable and sustainable information and technology services
Understood and agreed the key issues that needed to be addressed for it to achieve this shared aspiration.
In addition, the IS department’s profile was raised within the Council, staff motivation increased, and attitudes about working for the IS department were enhanced.
What they said about the Engagement
‘It provided an agreed direction – everyone knows where we are trying to get to and how we’re going to get there.’
‘I can make a more informed decision about whether to stay or go.’
‘It’s more motivating – the team can see the value they can add.’
Members of large County Council’s IS Leadership Team.
POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE
Established in 1985, Grenfell Housing and Training in Merton helps single homeless 16 to 24-year olds in South London Boroughs lead independent lives. It employs around 20 personnel and provides its services to a client group of around 120 people. In addition, it works closely with other voluntary sector organisations in the area so that they can all help statutory bodies discharge their duties more effectively and efficiently.
Because of its proactive culture, Grenfell is a successful and highly reputable organisation (for example, in 2010 it was one of the two charities that the local Mayor chose to sponsor). Having previously heard of the benefits that mentoring can bring, the Chief Executive, Lola Barrett, engaged Graham Kennedy to explore the relevance of mentoring to her role at Grenfell Housing Association. Over the course of the next year, in the context of a changing political administration, Graham worked with Lola to help clarify and exploit opportunities to position the Housing Association for the future.
The Chief Executive and Graham agreed to fortnightly coaching and mentoring meetings to clarify key opportunities for growth and to develop plans to exploit them.
As a result of the coaching and mentoring:
Grenfell’s senior management team proactively find and bring back opportunities
The senior management team work together using an agreed framework to prioritise and convert critical opportunities. For example:
o Grenfell has now met a long standing, high priority strategic aim of working with a new client group which required securing a £400k capital grant from central government
o The London Learning Consortium selected Grenfell as a fit for purpose delivery partner
o Merton Priory Homes has bought ‘Together You Can’, a new, innovative programme launched by Grenfell which equips 16 to 24-year olds with the skills and capabilities needed to lead independent lives
Grenfell has boosted its income by over 50% and reached its revenue targets.
What the client said about Graham
“You are worth your weight in gold, silver and diamonds. You helped me clarify the big opportunities that Grenfell was facing and structure plans to address them. Through your network, you also helped to open doors to opportunities to which Grenfell would not normally have had access. As a result of our relationship, Grenfell is much better positioned for the future.” Lola Barrett, Chief Executive, Grenfell Housing Association.
The Helford River Children’s Sailing Trust (HRCST) is a youth charity based in Cornwall that offers access to sailing and water activities to children and young adults.
In September 2015, so that it could fulfil its founder’s original aspiration to offer water sports activities to young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) in addition to its existing client base, HRCST acquired Trevassack Lake.
As the investment being made in the lake was significant and required the Trust to transform the way it operated to fulfil its aspirations, in July 2018 the Trust appointed its first CEO. The new CEO needed to become effective quickly and to ensure that attention was being focused on areas that would enable the Trust to reach its aspirations quickly and effectively. In particular, he needed to ensure that:
Issues that were inhibiting progress were resolved quickly
The Trust was set up for both development and operation
Trustees’ meetings were effective
An impartial yet informed perspective on what the Trust was trying to achieve and how it was achieving its aspirations was being provided.
The CEO and Graham agreed to fortnightly coaching and mentoring meetings to reflect on what the Trust was doing and develop options to address key issues and opportunities.
As a result of the coaching and mentoring:
The Trust has clear, agreed priorities and development plans
Trustees’ meetings and the Board of Trustees are effective
A professional framework for developing and operating the Trust in a sustainable way is being introduced
Key issues that are inhibiting progress are addressed in a timely manner
The Board of Trustees and key members of the Trust’s management team value the leadership that the CEO is bringing to the Trust.
In addition, the Trust has been awarded a total of £1.9m of grant funding for its proposed development of the lake. These grants have unlocked additional pledges of £0.5m.
What the Client said about Graham
“Graham’s strategic thinking and ability to see the key issues is what makes his advice so valuable. Our regular meetings played a critical part in securing £1.7m in funding for the trust. The Trust is incredibly appreciative of the advice Graham has provided to enable us to achieve our objectives so quickly.” Simon Osborne, CEO, Helford River Children’s Sailing Trust.
ADDRESSING CHANGING EXPECTATIONS
Accenture is one of the premier global suppliers of IT services.
Accenture’s work in central government is of strategic importance to its business. In response to government’s criticisms of some of its key suppliers, the head of Accenture’s Health and Public Sector group wanted to understand what central government was looking for in its key suppliers of IT services so that it knew what – if anything – it needed to change to be attractive to central government departments.
We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with MPs and key civil servants to understand the causes of the criticisms and what central government was looking for in its key suppliers of IT services. This included identifying and clearly articulating:
The rationale for the change that central government was looking for in its key suppliers of IT services
The nature of the changes that were expected, including understanding exemplary suppliers and what they were doing differently
The central government policies and agendas with which key IT suppliers were expected to align, and the relative importance of these agendas
The consequences for these suppliers of not changing
The key buyers of its services in central government and how they wanted to buy
Central government’s perception of Accenture compared with other key suppliers of IT services together with the key things that it should do differently to be more successful
Suitable opportunities on which Accenture might focus.