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Engagement Examples
The examples of engagements below are drawn from some past employers and clients; Norwich Union, Clerical Medical International, Royal SunAlliance, the NHS (a local Health Authority and a PCT), Nat West, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Medicash and UPC (a European cable company).

The examples cover:

Making a real difference to a market leading business.
Background: I was asked to help out in a contract at one of the UK?s top 5 insurers. This client was implementing a major transformation and integration programme. A technology company had been contracted to carry out the systems integration; the client teams were doing the process redesign and the target system development.

The Problem: The client had fallen badly behind schedule within the first 3 months on the process redesign; within that time none of the scheduled deliverables had been produced. Meanwhile the technology company was forging ahead with the systems integration. There were major dependencies between the two parts later on in the life cycle.

What I did: My role was to lead the client teams to help with their process design work, and to bring that part back on schedule. I initially spent a short time identifying the root causes of the problem, which turned out to be;

There was a very large amount of specialised work to be done. Every business process
had to be examined and most redesigned; the plan had underestimated the effort.
Furthermore, many of the target processes and systems were not adequately documented,
so much of the information required to do the exercise resided only in the heads of client staff.
The client teams had never done this type of work before and the internal consultants were
not trained in process analysis.
To address these problems I took the following action;
I analysed the processes to identify which ones were most likely to present a risk to the
other workstream if they were not delivered on time, and prioritised them. For example, the designs of surrender and maturity processes are highly dependant on the nature of the contracts and data, and so were a priority. Whereas direct debit collection processes are similar on all systems and so de-prioritised.
To deal with the lack of documentation, I arranged and facilitated a requirements workshop
for each process, gathering together the appropriate staff. To make the workshops efficient, requirements were developed and documented in real time with the team, using a laptop and projector. This meant they could see exactly what was written there and then, and so removed almost all the traditional problems with subsequent sign-off of the document. Any issues unresolved in the workshop were logged, owners assigned and tracked through to resolution. The requirements then formed a sound basis for the process redesigns.
I provided training and mentoring to the client?s internal consultants in requirements
analysis, process documentation and design, and facilitation.
I subsequently carried out a process review, and worked with the technology company
team to amend their system integration method, so such projects would be less vulnerable to such problems in future.
Benefit: The project was brought back on track within 3 months and ultimately delivered on time.

Failure would have caused an additional cost of 500k per month of delay, and put strains on the relationship between the technology company and their client. Furthermore, the skills I gave to the client and the changes in the method gave both companies the capability to avoid such problems in future.

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Using technology to enable business performance.
Background: Some years ago I was running a project to develop an extra-net for intermediaries in a UK market. A major part of the scope was the delivery of monthly and quarterly performance data to the site users. This information was already being delivered to the market on paper. My role was to manage the project but also to be the process consultant.

The Problem: The monthly information was taking 4 weeks to produce, and the quarterly data 9 weeks, so both were out of date almost as soon as they were issued. Both sets of information were still needed on paper, but now HTML was also needed for the web pages and .pdf for download. I was asked to shorten the time scale for production, reduce the process cost, and publish the data in 3 formats instead of 1.

What I did: I set about documenting the current production process so I could understand how it worked and where all the data was coming from. Overall the process was long, manual and complex, with multiple hand-offs and delays. At the end of the process, copy for printing was manually produced (paper and glue). Sign-off was given by various departments which resulted in multiple, costly changes to the copy.

The actions I took to fix this were as follows;
I redesigned the process so it was simpler and more straightforward, and documented
the new design.
I involved all key players in the process so no-one had any surprises, and introduced them
to one-another so they knew what each was doing.
I negotiated with various departments to move work around so as to reduce unnecessary
hand offs. I also negotiated a change in the management control environment to simplify sign-off.
I developed a data base and spread sheet so all information could be collected
and collated locally, and in one place.
I had the staff research and acquire new software that could create copy for printing, but
also export to HTML and .pdf, so the 3 forms of publication required could be produced from a single source at no extra cost. This also meant that only one piece of copy had to be signed off.
I also ensured that training was given to staff for both the new software, and the use of the
process documentation.
Benefit: The overall result was that the time taken to publish monthly data was reduced from 4 weeks to 3 days, and the Quarterly data from 9 weeks to 4 days. Process costs were reduced by 60% and output was tripled. The whole of the new process was now documented, and all the software used was within the control of the staff operating it, so they could continue to improve it on their own.

The core of this solution was the software which collected, collated and published the information, but as always the process design and involvement of people was also crucial.

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Influencing Board level thinking.
Background: I had been working for some months facilitating the strategy planning of a top UK Life & Pensions company.

The Problem:The board had identified that Strategies in past years had failed, and blamed the problem on the strategic direction they had taken.

What I did: I was not convinced they could reliably draw this conclusion; I believed that the strategies had not had a chance to prove themselves to be right or wrong, as they had failed in implementation. Until the company had the internal capabilities to reliably deliver strategic change and move the company in the chosen strategic direction (whatever that direction it may be) they would get the same results for good strategies and bad strategies.

So firstly I set about checking if my view was correct;
I looked back at previous projects to see how successful they had been. This revealed that
little data was kept on project success; delivery of benefits was not monitored, baseline project plans and budgets were rarely kept and never reviewed against actual experience; and there was little formal change control for project scope. Anecdotal evidence suggested that projects almost always ran over budget, over time and under scope.
I also examined divisional and departmental objectives. This revealed that the objectives
rarely aligned with strategic objectives; one division?s objectives sometimes conflicted with another?s; and where co-operation was required between divisions they rarely had shared objectives. Furthermore, most objectives lacked any objective measure of success. Anecdotal evidence suggested that divisional managers only did things that they could control in their division, because they could not get co-operation from other divisions.
The upshot was that only divisional changes were made, and because they did not focus on strategy, many conflicted and there was little genuine improvement.

I presented this back to the board, and convinced them that they had a major problem with their ability to define and deploy strategic objectives, and with the ability to implement and monitor the projects and other activities necessary to deliver strategy. They accepted that this had to be addressed before they worried about exactly what their future strategy was to be.

To address the situation I;
Implemented a system of cascading objectives
based on one used in Japan called Policy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri). This ensured that all objectives were aligned with strategy, and with each other. Objectives were cascaded down the management chain and into projects, and progress was subject to periodic review.
Persuaded the board to establish a Project Department
to oversee the running of projects across the company. I worked closely with the manager appointed to set up a system which prioritised projects, monitored re sources conflicts, identified and monitored benefits, installed a QA/QC system and gave training as needed to the project managers.
Benefit: the company was in a position to implement strategy effectively; this was a major leap forward in its internal capability, and without it no strategy would have been successful.
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Applying a holistic understanding of how business works.
Background: I was involved in a project to implement an internet site for a Life Insurer, to deliver information and brochures to customers, and sales ideas to its sales force. The speed and ease of publishing such information was a major attraction of the development, and it was intended to increase the responsiveness of the sales force and so increase sales.

The Problem: The project was run by IT and was being driven in some isolation from the rest of the company.

What I did: The practical area of thought leadership that I offer to clients is my holistic understanding of how insurance companies work. As a process consultant I understand both their business and management processes. As a licensed user of the Organisational Cultural Inventory I am familiar with assessing culture. As a qualified actuary I understand their products, finances and the regulatory environment. I see companies as an integrated ?system? where products, processes and culture combine to deliver to results to all stakeholders.

What I did in this instance was to bring this experience to bear, and look wider than the initial scope of the project. I made a point of looking beyond the immediate delivery of the site, and into some of the client?s off-line business processes.

I discovered that the process for developing and authorising product changes, brochures and other information was extremely cumbersome. If a product feature was changed it could take 6 months to publish the revised brochure. If an opportunity arose in the market, it could take 4-8 weeks to publish the leaflet giving the idea and advice to the sales. This meant that when the site was delivered, the company would be unable to gain the benefits hoped for.

The problems were;
There were 5 different teams involved in
the process who were in 3 different cities. The brochures were developed by being sent round each in turn to make amendments. One team would then amend another?s amendment. This was a problem with the process.
The process was over controlled, with 4 of
the 5 teams having a controlling role; the one team who had no control were the team tasked with writing the text. This was a problem with the control environment.
The team writing the text were given no training
by the other teams in what they would be looking for when they were approving the text. Consequently the initial drafts were rarely even close to what was acceptable. The company was very oriented round its functions, and co-operation and sharing of understanding did not come naturally. This was a problem with the culture.
I made a series of recommendations to the client to address these issues.
Benefit: if the client did not address these issues the benefit of the new web site would not be realised. It is a good example of how a technology development may fail to gain benefit if one only considers the IT system?the whole system needs to be examined and redesigned if necessary.
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Innovating in management.
Background: An outpatient unit of a local hospital trust had a problem when the consultant left unexpectedly. The hospital knew it would take many months to find a replacement, so I was asked to help the unit?s junior management to organise themselves such that they could operate without a consultant.

When a consultant did arrive, I also assisted with the planning of a new strategy for the unit.

The Problem: Clinical units in hospitals in hospitals have three separate reporting lines ? one for doctors, one for nurses, and a third for administrative staff. A consultant ties all of these together, and without one there is considerable risk that the unit will cease to function effectively. Also, at district level there was pressure to consolidate such units, and there was a perceived threat of closure if the unit did not perform.

What I did: I helped the unit to establish a self-managing team in place of a consultant. I advised them on setting up a steering group to lead carry out the role of self management, and helped them to set their own agenda for improvement. I coached them in improvement techniques, and helped design a questionnaire to assess patient satisfaction.

The use of a steering group for the unit, which involved representatives from all disciplines, was a revolutionary approach for the hospital and contributed to a significant improvement in staff satisfaction. The use of data on patient satisfaction to drive the agenda for change was also innovative and was much appreciated by my client.

As a result, the unit introduced changes to the way they operated, for example;
A telephone unit was established for delivery
of results, which improved the unit?s efficiency and decreased (i.e. improved) the rate at which patients failed to attend for appointments by 30%.
The appointments system was improved, of
so that patients could be offered a wider choice of appointment time (which reduced waiting times) and could be offered a doctor of their choice.
After 12 months a new consultant was appointed. I worked with him to help him understand the innovative approach used by his unit, and to see the value in working in this way. I was then asked to help him plan out a strategy for the unit, part of which was to address the perceived threats of merger at district level.

We also worked on understanding who the unit?s stakeholders were, and improving service to the patients. For example, close links were established with a related clinical unit which lead to staff sharing, improved training and a more seamless service to patients.

Benefit: The unit continued to operate and improve throughout the period they were without a consultant. They subsequently won the hospital?s award for quality and a national accreditation from the King?s Fund.
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Shaping a technology-enabled strategy.
Background: had been asked to review the e-commerce strategy of an international Life & Pensions company. They were operating mainly in the European market and wanted to have all applications and quotes for policies placed on-line to reduce costs and speed up response times.

The Problem: The strategy was fairly standard for the time, and many UK companies were looking at the same approach. However I believed that it was necessary to analyse the European market to ensure there were no factors that may make this approach inappropriate

What I did: I worked with the client?s IT and business teams to look at their market ? its products, distribution and technology.

In most of Europe insurance products are distributed through two layers of intermediaries ? ?distributors? who are the customer facing intermediaries, and ?master distributors? (MDs) who act as umbrella organisations. These MDs form the relationship with insurers, agree commission rates, and act as an administration office for the distributors. Commission is paid to them, and they then pay a part of this to the distributor. They are similar to UK organisations such as Countrywide, but have a much stronger grip on the insurers as there are not many of them; so if the insurer loses a contract with one, they will lose a large proportion of their distribution.

I argued that if quotes and proposals were put on line, and sent directly from the distributor to the insurer, this would cut out the MD from the process and so undermine their role with their distributors. There was a risk that they would not take kindly to this and may terminate their contracts with my client. Subsequent discussions with MDs confirmed this.

In addition, we identified that the distributors worked almost exclusively from lap-tops. They tended to be mobile, and not use desk-tops connected to the internet. So having on-line quotes would be of little benefit to them. They currently had a simple quotes system written in C which they obtained from my client, and was updated by floppy disk every month.

Basically, my client was moving too fast for the market; what would have worked in the UK would not be appreciated in Europe at that time. So I had to advise my client to slow down their strategy, and match their approach to the current methods in the market. This was somewhat contrary to the exciting new world that was envisaged by all at the time, but I could see my client was not going to change a foreign market on their own, and would most likely alienate a significant portion of their distribution network.

So I helped them to change their strategy to;
Create a role for MDs in the on-line distribution process.
Offer MDs a share of the cost savings by
increasing commission rates if they used the on-line facilities.
Continue to use the C based quotes program, but deliver
updates by down-load rather than by floppy disk.
Benefit: The revised approach cost less to implement and significantly reduced business risk.
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Jonathan Halstead
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