Transformers wanted: Finance goes to market for quick capability boost

By Stephen Easton

June 29, 2018

The Department of Finance has begun shopping around for a partner-organisation to deliver an eight-week program of “transformative change” guided by a recent internal review.

The fast-paced change project is part of a longer set of internal reforms called the Finance Transformation, as distinct from the department’s role guiding “APS transformation” efforts. It hopes sign a deal in late July and have the contractor finish its work by mid-September.

It seems Finance wants help to enhance capability in six ways — by coming up with “clear, measurable and agreed” service standards, for example, according to a request for quotes posted to AusTender.

“Improving continuous improvement business and cultural practices” is also on the list — a true masterpiece of bureaucratic wordplay — and the central agency will need some new KPIs and a “benefits realisation” plan.

The goal of “improving meeting productivity and outcomes effectiveness” in Mathias Cormann’s bureaucracy sounds like a worthy cause we can all get behind, and “delegated decision-making in line with appropriate engagement with risk” is also on the list, indicating a plan to push some responsibility down to lower levels.

Another item on this capability wish-list seems to refer to a desire for new and more “disciplined” business processes that place “transparency, accountability and measurable and reportable benefits realisation” front and centre.

Finance describes a four-stage plan as a series of “outcomes that will ensure the successful delivery of these key improvements” and states the winning bidder will be asked to “implement” these in the department, one after the other.

An indicative timeline shows the contractor will be asked to deliver each stage of the rapid change project progressively through August and September, reporting on the final stage on September 17.

Drive, strengthen and improve pipeline management

  • Work with teams to strengthen and optimise each improvement initiative – owner, accountability, objective, benefit measurement (KPIs), work plan, milestones
  • Setup and coach consistent project management disciplines in larger initiatives
  • Align KPIs to the divisional plans-on-a-page and build KPI cascades aligned to roles through the organisation
  • Load ideas, action tracking, meetings and KPI measurement into an application to establish one source-of-truth and coach and build capacity for teams to use the application.

Cascading reviews to drive performance

  • Set up and coach initiative owner to upper management reviews
  • Set up and coach management and transformation team reviews

Effective Programme Management

  • Train and coach the Finance Transformation team to drive programme management
  • Train and coach the Finance Transformation team to establish safe, supportive programme reviews with coaching for senior leaders as required
  • Build competency in the Finance Transformation team capability to train and coach regular management-staff performance meetings, initiative execution, prioritisation etc.

Setup active workforce management

  • Establish a clearly defined benefits tracking stream within the Finance Transformation team to track workforce capacity utilisation
  • Plan and manage workforce changes holistically as ideas implemented
  • Establish productivity measurement in a number of teams and design effective ‘surge’ (movement of staff at peak periods) solutions for workforce peaks.

Another very different unit of the federal bureaucracy, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, has also looked to contract out internal reform of late.

In a dual-purpose call for tenders that closes today, the AAT’s administrative officers have been looking for suppliers to deliver one or both of two closely linked pieces of reform work.

One of those is to “develop a high-level operating model that articulates the Tribunal’s functions and qualifies and defines how we want to operate the Tribunal’s various functional areas” while the other is more ICT-related:

“We are also seeking a Supplier to develop an enterprise architecture that will set out our current and future state technology and information landscape to ensure digital services and related technology decisions are developed in line with a broader future state that is well-defined.”

Top image: Boynton Art Studio

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