In some organisations capability improvement means a structured approach to invest in the knowledge of employees and improve efficiency; in other organisations it is a mere slogan that is used to attract prospective employees and used to tick a box as part of a compliance requirement.
So how do organisations improve capability? For capability improvement to reach its full potential there needs to be tangible support by the organisation in capability improvement from initial executive commitment to ongoing support. This is often missing or receives insufficient investment.
The Treasury in the New Zealand Government has provided leadership and guidance in how to improve the development of Business Cases and the management of benefits. Over the past 5 years there has been a substantial and ongoing investment in providing real guidance to improving benefits management. This guidance is now supported by accredited training in Better Business Cases (BBC) and benefits management.
New Zealand Treasury has provided extensive guidance that is publicly available on the importance of a Business Case and the approach that is recommended for all Government investment. Support is provided to Senior Responsible Owners (i.e., sponsors), business case developers and reviewers by providing:
- BBC Guidance
- Methods (and tools) to develop business cases
- Access to BBC Training
- Access to Endorsed BBC Experts
- BBC Clinics for Investment Intensive Agencies
The development of BBC Clinics is a unique initiative that supports the Senior Responsible Owner of a major project by providing a single source of tailored, pragmatic and actionable business case advice from the Treasury and the Corporate Centre.
BBC is supported by on-line products for agencies (e.g., point of entry documents, templates and A3 one pagers) and a reviewer may use an assessment tool as a way of focussing feedback.
Clinics help at the following points in development of a business case:
- Start-up Clinic (max 2 hours): Establishes the business case approach at an early stage. Pre-reading: Point of entry document.
- Mid-point Clinic (max 2 hours): Tests early thinking and gives feedback on a draft business case. Pre-reading: A3 and draft business case.
- End-point Clinic (max 2 hours): Provides feedback on final draft business case. Pre-reading: A3 (optional) and final draft business case.
In 2015/16 Financial year, 34 BBC clinics were used for 20 major investment projects. This process has continued and the number of BBC clinics has increased in line with the approx. 55 major projects being monitored.
Evaluation has not been forgotten as there is also an extensive evaluation process used. For a summary of the 2015 evaluation BBC Evaluation and the Planned Improvements.
NZ Treasury also provides an incentive for improvements in benefits capability and performance via the Investor Confidence Rating (ICR) assessments of the 25 investment intensive Government Agencies. Two yearly ICR assessments embed investment management and assets performance and accountability and results are reported to Cabinet. In addition to accredited training provided by APMG Accredited Training Organisations, there is an internal “train the trainer” program that spreads the message starting with benefits management. The APMG Better Business and Managing Benefits certifications are now the encouraged certifications used to provide a foundation for improved capability.
In 2017, 23 of the 25 Investor Confidence Rating Assessments have been completed. ICR incentives are working with all agencies investing in improvement programmes, and nearly all seeking improvement in benefits management. The planned ICR assessment cycle and the findings of the ICR assessments are also publicly available.
In future the NZ Treasury is looking to support Govt Agencies to report to Cabinet with Portfolio benefits performance information, and to include benefits performance information in the NZ Government’s Investing for NZ Report.
Capability improvement has become a reality in the NZ Government.
For further information contact
Lawrie Kirk APMG International, Australia Lawrie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Petherick NZ Treasury email@example.com