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Getting set for digital transformation success: Case Study Stage 3 – A new governance structure

The right governance helps focus decision making and manage risk

Many organisations continue to grapple with digital transformation and wonder what it can actually deliver amid a risk of failure. In this four-part blog series, we take a look at a real-world case study of the steps Accelera took with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission to assist the organisation on its digital transformation journey.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) acts to protect public health and safety by dealing with complaints about health service providers across the state. The commission’s drivers for transformation include: allowing complainants and providers to engage through digital channels; to reduce the use of paper across the agency; and streamline and digitize processes. This vision will benefit the people of NSW with faster and better outcomes.

“Accelera takes a holistic view of digital and was able to help transform our organisation while we maintained existing levels of service delivery. We are now on a clear journey of digitally-driven innovation.” Eddie Van Den Bempt, Director, Corporate Operations & CFO, NSW Healthcare Complaints Commission

In the first part in this series, we covered the assessment phase of the project. In the second part, we looked at the importance of delivering a stable baseline ICT function, before commencing on transformational change.

In this third part, we take a look at the importance of a working governance structure in executing on a digital transformation program, while managing risk.

When planning and delivering a transformational change program, the connection with the organisation’s core strategic goals becomes critical because senior management needs to be across a number of key considerations:

  • expectations for what the program can deliver to the organisation’s core strategy
  • timelines and win-rates (ideally seeing quick wins early in the program)
  • costs that the program is likely to incur, and over what timeframe
  • risks that the program may face, including funding, engagement, execution capability, culture and environment

A program of magnitude would necessarily involve those with a governance oversight role – such as a board of directors – to agree on the deployment of resources for transformation, and to manage the risks as part of the organisation’s overall framework. The board would work with an executive function (usually the CEO) to drive the execution of the program. Regular check-ins and ‘showcases’ for progress along the timeline will help keep the board informed, and highlight issues or risks which may need oversight involvement to rectify.

Existing Governance Structure

At the NSW HCCC, transformation activities were tracked at the executive level through a break-out steering committee charged with ICT oversight. An operational interface with the ICT function, known as the Client Services group of meetings (across different departments), was also in place. The governance structure aimed to escalate strategic or resourcing decision-making from the client services channel to the steering panel, and to have decisions made at the steering panel drive operational outcomes through the Client Services function.

Over time, the Client Services bandwidth was increasingly taken up with ongoing operational concerns, rather than being able to workshop transformation initiatives, and the steering committee was increasingly involved with operational resourcing and risk management. The transformation agenda was therefore not getting traction, and the delineation between operational involvement and strategic oversight became blurred.

A New Approach

To break this nexus, a different structure was needed. The outcome focused on two major changes: to elevate the role of the ICT Steering Committee back to its intended purpose of major decision-making around strategy, resource deployment and risk management; and for the Client Services structure to be replaced with a Working Group that brought together managers to workshop transformation initiatives that were driven by front-line business benefits. The group was also tasked with prioritising the agreed initiatives, which aimed to remove the tension between different departments vying for limited resources available in the ICT function. Finally, operational matters were removed from the Workshop agenda and are now handled through the helpdesk function of the ICT team on an as-needs basis. This helps ensure the time spent in workshops does not bog down in operational matters.

While the ICT Steering Panel acted as a subcommittee of the executive function, over time its charter could be taken up within the executive (rather than needing a separate committee). To encapsulate the changes and guide future activities, updated charters help guide the purpose of both the working group and the executive ICT Steering Committee.

For managing ICT Security risks as part of the Organisation’s ISO27001 framework, a separate management group also meets regularly to perform the function defined by charter under the Information Security Management System.

Benefits of the Right Structure

With a more focused governance structure that delegates as much decision-making as possible closest to the business front lines, the right priorities can be set in an environment where the transformation workload needs to be covered by limited resources, while also delivering on BAU outcomes. At the same time, critical decisions around strategy, cost and risk can be handled at the right level, provide an override if situations change, and allow clear direction to be set for the transformation team.

Getting the governance structure and its charter right greatly helps focus the right level of decision making on the most relevant tasks, makes better use of time, and follows a clear risk management methodology to managed the inevitable challenges that pop up along the transformation journey.

In our next post, we will cover what the road ahead looks like now for the HCCC, now that the readiness for transformation has been addressed.

To see and download the full case study, please see the case study page.