In September 2004 ministerial approval was granted to establish Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust, a new Surrey-wide Mental Health & Learning Disability Trust. Made up from the amalgamation of three existing NHS Trusts, over three counties and 200 sites, the change over is a mammoth task. The Board has taken a blended approach to change management.
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust was formally established on 1st April 2005, a major milestone in an 18 month reconfiguration programme that will be complete by 1 April 2006. The organisation will be the third largest mental health and learning disability Trust in the country and the biggest outside of London, employing approximately 5,000 staff.
The Audit Commission publishes best practice guidelines and key performance indicators (KPI’s) for NHS Trust reconfiguration and integration activity. With a total of 64 KPI’s monitoring all elements of the programme and upwards of 90 reconfiguration-related projects, this is a major change programme, with strict delivery and timeline criteria that needed to be met. Of course, services to local communities must be seamlessly and continually delivered while all this change is progressing.
The Board and executive team needed to implement a best practice approach to change and programme management with tools that would provide both visibility and control of programme status for key stakeholders across the organisation. This would provide processes and tools to support work stream teams in delivering the reconfiguration programme while at the same time offering senior management a real-time dashboard of programme status, progress against KPI’s, a risk register and milestones. As a public sector body this would all need to be PRINCE2 compliant, but pragmatic and simple enough to be used by teams at all levels throughout the three Trusts.
The managers involved in this programme had very limited time to spend on training sessions and the geographic spread of the target population (over 200 sites over three counties) was huge. The training approach had to be practical and the time spent on best practice project and programme concepts had to be minimal. A blended solution was the obvious choice.
A blended learning solution was seen as having three main business benefits:
* Any solution must develop the core business processes (in this case, project and programme management skills). These must be identified in advance and agreed with the client. These will be the measures of success.
* Any solution must sustain best practice tools and techniques adopted by the client. Training time is valuable and therefore you should develop best practice or world-class approaches only.
* The solution must feed into a Knowledge Management tool of some sort (from simple database to a fully fledged learning management system). In a knowledge economy learning must be retained in the company for future benefits and continuous growth.
CC-Com provided a solution comprising consulting, training, project management support and software that explicitly delivered against the requirements of the Board and executive team. In addition the solution also included elements of knowledge management and e-learning that enabled work stream teams to share best practice approaches and evolve skills and capabilities.
The four elements included:
* Consulting: To assess the level of competence in Project Management (core skill) and the Audit Commission’s requirements for best practice. This help set learning and business objectives.
* Training: Short (two-three hour) but extensive training programmes for executives and work stream covered concepts and best practice. The Software was introduced at this stage. The web-based software application was rolled out to almost 70 users, involved in the 90+ merger projects.
* Project Management Support: a consultant was on hand for around three days a week over two months to help in all aspects of the programme; from telephone support for system users, one on one ‘remedial’ training, to provide coaching/advice at minimal notice, to attend meetings where the system was being used and to provide advice on Project Management techniques to managers
* Software (e-learning system): Crucially the system was not touted as an ‘e-learning’ system as learning at the point of doing is key to success. It is an operational management system that enables people to learn as they do their day-to-day job in the integration programme.
The programme increased transparency, confidence and control while at the same time reduced risk and cost in the implementation of the reconfiguration. Overall, a blended learning approach has enabled the reconfiguration to progress in a controlled and timely manner.
Specific outcomes from the programme have included:
* Major changes of operating practices enabling Management Boards to review projects live rather than the production of paper reports.
* Improved communication with all stakeholder groups who have access to the project information and status.
* Common project management methodology from all work streams which has resulted in better project assurance.
* Live system to monitor achievement of Key Performance Indicators.
* Production of a Knowledge Management repository to improve future project management success.
* Production of a risk register, which enabled the senior team to be proactive in managing risks associated with the transformation of the three trusts.