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Setting up for Success

How to manage your organisation through the major programme lifecycle


It is no secret that major programmes typically struggle to come in on time and on budget. A number of reports and academic literature on major programmes from the last decade suggest that these programmes spend an insufficient amount of time setting up the organisation in the right way, with the right capability, to achieve the standards required for delivery throughout the programme lifecycle. This leads to problems further downstream for programmes which cost time and money to resolve.

In this paper, we share our point of view on how major programmes should set up and transition the organisation over time in line with the programme’s needs:

  • Whilst on the surface each major programme may appear to be different, they are ultimately driven by three lifecycles in our view: the ‘Financing’ lifecycle (focusing on investment), the ’Organisational’ lifecycle (focusing on capability), and the ‘Programme’ lifecycle (focusing on delivery milestones). 
  • We present our view that the most effective and successful major programmes prioritise the Organisational Lifecycle - the dynamism of any Major Programme means that its organisation will need to transition its capability and structures several times to continue to be effective, and organisations which do not flex as the programme changes fail to deliver the programme benefits. 
  • To support our clients and industries manage their organisational lifecycle, we have collated our experiences into a single end-to-end framework, ‘Setting up for Success’. This is focused on defining, developing, and demonstrating organisational capability from the start across people, processes, and systems. Flexing this to the needs of the programme over time is a critical component to managing delivery and being able to respond to inevitable future unknowns (as was the case for Brexit and COVID-19). 
  • Our ‘Setting up for Success’ Framework is brought to life in the paper through our work with High Speed 2 Ltd. where we supported the organisation to define, develop and demonstrate that it has the right capability and operating structures in place to begin construction for Phase One of the programme. Our work at High Speed 2 Ltd. has subsequently been used as a case study in the Infrastructure Project Authority’s (IPA) Project Routemap providing guidance and best practice to Major Programmes.

Should you like to know more, we would be delighted to discuss what our Setting up for Success framework could mean for your major programme. As well as further materials, tools and examples, we can also offer an you immersive ‘Deloitte Greenhouse lab’ to discuss your key organisational challenges in more detail and provide you with a tangible action plan.

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