System Project Office (SPO) reform was initiated out of the Defence First Principles Review (FPR) that sought to reshape the business units within the procurement and sustainment arm of Defence. It was designed to enable the workforce to continue delivering capability, while improving the flexibility and utilisation of the organisation.
A key feature was the establishment of a ‘single end-to-end capability development function within the Department to maximise the efficient, effective and professional delivery of military capability.’ It also represented an opportunity to rebalance the workforce and reprioritise its work to focus on contracting, assurance, planning and governance activities to oversee Industry’s delivery of capability, monitoring its performance and assuring contract accountability.
Quintessential was tasked by Defence to design and implement the reform process for a CASG SPO, including the facilitation and coaching of the Executive Leadership Team. This involved:
- The design of the post-reform organisational structure, ensuring consistency with the FPR recommendations
- The implementation and change management of the post-reform organisation
- The establishment of a Governance and Performance framework
Quintessential was engaged as a Strategic Partner to design and implement the changes, as follows:
- Streamlining the SPO structure to support Sustainment activities, including the design and implementation of the reformed organisation across the ADF, APS and Contractor workforce.
- Designing a governance, assurance and performance management framework (including a strategic risk management methodology) to monitor and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the SPO as a Sustainment focused organisation.
- Undertaking a TNA to define the competency needs of the post-reform workforce structure and to identify the upskilling activities required
The project was conducted over a period of 21 months. Quintessential led and implemented the program of work from commencement to completion.
Step (a) – Change Management. In order to minimise disruption to the SPO during the change management process, and to enable business-as-usual operations to continue unhindered, Quintessential adopted an immersive approach that sought to understand the workforce needs from internal observations and experience. The design was driven from within through regular improvement practices and routines.
The changes were implemented gradually, with Quintessential coaching the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) through a series of iterative steps. This strategy was deliberately crafted in preference to a large ‘step-change’ approach in order to enable:
- Opportunity for the ELT and workforce to contribute and buy-in to the outcomes
- Time to reflect, consider and provide feedback to the changes
- Progressively shift behaviours, mindset and practice
- Minimise resistance to change
The main aspects to the work performed included:
- Functional analysis and design of the organisation from current to new
- Change & Communications strategy design and roll-out
- Development of Staff Transition and Workforce Plans
Step (b) – Governance. Following the completion of the organisational analysis and reform implementation, Quintessential designed and established a Governance & Assurance framework that was adapted from corporate models to include:
- Performance, cost, risk and workforce metrics and indicators
- Regular Governance Committee forums
- Flow of information both up and down the chain of command
The framework was designed to enable the ELT to monitor and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the SPO in a strategic manner, enabling them to identify systemic issues and make considered improvements.
To mitigate any additional workload or burden to the SPO, the governance framework was based upon the existing collection of metrics, and also leveraged existing Defence systems for management and tracking of indicators. This foundation was then be expanded to include additional metrics and data once the baseline was established and the associated practices implemented.
Step (c) – Competencies. The final piece in the SPO reform program of work was the analysis of the workforce, the definition of skilling needs and the identification of any skills gaps with an intent to develop training and development plans. This involved:
- Review and update of all Position Descriptions, creating linkages of accountability and responsibility between supervisor and subordinate relationships
- The definition of the competencies (knowledge, skills & behaviours) for the post reform organisation
- The conduct of a Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
- The development of a training strategy to address the skills gaps
The program of work was delivered on time, with all necessary changes within the scope of the engagement implemented. Upon completion, the SPO has benefited by having in place:
- New (post-reform) organisational design implemented in accordance with Defence First Principles
- A regular Governance Framework, including the generation and review of metrics, and regular governance forums that provides strategic oversight of the SPO
- New position descriptions and a full training matrix that relates skills needs to existing Defence training programs
More strategic discussions can be held that identify strategic improvements and systemic management of issues, and pleasingly there is a reduction in the ‘just-in-time’ approach typically associated with crisis management.