Clarity: Staying flexible in a crisis
"Don't wait until you're in a crisis to come up with a crisis plan."
- Phil McGraw
Clarity takes pride in our flexible and adaptive approach to project and programme management. All our staff are accredited Scrum Masters but also have experience of many other tested methodologies. Operating day to day as a virtual team, we are experienced in using all the technology available to keep client costs down and reduce our ecological impact by keeping carbon emissions, associated with travel, to a minimum.
However a recent piece of work, developing an outcome framework for the Regional Partnership Board (RPB) in mid Wales, required a significant level of face to face engagement and site-based visits in order to ensure ownership of the development process and the final product. Timelines were confirmed in line with programme governance and stakeholder meetings put in the diary. Everything was progressing as planned until the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and all non-essential travel stopped. As a result, our approach had to change significantly to ensure delivery.
The process of creating a programme outcome framework traditionally begins during the development stage of a programme or project. Priorities are determined based on population need, compared with national requirements and stakeholder partner priorities, and strategic outcome statements are written and ratified. In this instance an outcome is defined as “a predicted measure of change that demonstrates a valid and significant impact following an agreed intervention or initiative”. The outcome framework therefore identifies the “changes” that need to occur and is the starting point for developing the projects or interventions which contribute towards these.
In this instance, initiatives had already begun without the development of a framework. These initiatives included a wellbeing programme funded by national transformation funding, which also required the development of an outcome framework and corresponding indicator dashboard.
Following the announcement of the COVID-19 restrictions, the development process was reviewed with programme leads and mitigation put in place. Strategic documents were shared and reviewed electronically. Weekly catch up sessions were facilitated via video or teleconferencing, as were stakeholder engagement sessions. Drafts of the outcome frameworks were circulated and discussed with the team virtually and internal briefing and development sessions undertaken using the Clarity internal conferencing systems.
It was inevitable that priorities would change, and people were pulled away from the programme into roles to support the COVID-19 response. However, the Clarity Team delivered all products required by the deadlines by remaining flexible in our approach and maintaining open and transparent communication with the client. Unfortunately, the programme is now paused until the situation eases. When this time arises, the handover report created gives the programme team all the information they will need to finalise and embed the outcome framework including suggested next steps for the work. The past 3 weeks have been extraordinary, in demonstrating the importance of flexibility and adaptability of approach, as well as open and transparent communication between client and contractor to achieve a shared goal, regardless of external factors.