Part 5: Lessons for other public entities

Inland Revenue Department: Governance of the Business Transformation programme.

In this Part, we identify some questions that could be helpful for public entities to consider when designing the governance of major programmes, particularly those with a transformation component.

We have identified the questions from performing our audit of Inland Revenue's governance of the programme. Inland Revenue has had to consider these questions as part of governing the programme.

We intend the questions to be useful reminders for public entities about the complexities of programme governance and management. The questions are not intended to be exhaustive.

In Figure 6, we list some challenges and questions to consider in programme governance.

Figure 6
Some challenges and questions to consider when governing programmes

Balancing business as usual with programme demands.
  • Has enough attention been paid to avoid the risks of governing and managing a programme in isolation from business as usual, particularly when important resources are shared between a programme and business as usual?
Keeping governance arrangements current.
  • Have the main points where the programme environment and governance demands may change been identified?
  • Is there a schedule for reviewing the governance arrangements at those points?
Assessing performance without direct comparisons.
  • Is there enough and effective critical challenge within the governance arrangements, including enough independent participation?
Maintaining a strategic perspective of risks and how they are managed.
  • Have the main strategic risks to the programme been identified?
Is the risk appetite of stakeholders and the organisation understood well?
  • Is there a degree of independence in identifying and managing the risks?
Managing the realisation of benefits over the programme's life cycle.
  • Is there continuous planning, reviewing, reporting, and updating of the benefits being and to be realised over the full life of the programme?
Providing certainty to stakeholders in an uncertain environment.
  • Have the points in the programme's life where main information will be available to communicate with each main stakeholder been identified?
Integrating different organisational cultures when relying on external experts.
  • Has deliberate thought been given to leveraging the strengths of multiple organisational cultures where a programme involves existing and external staff working together?
Developing capability and skills when relying on external experts.
  • Has there been enough attention to mitigating skills risks at a governance level, given the risks of relying heavily on a few experts, particularly when relying on that expertise for both programme governance and management?
Balancing keeping people informed against information overload.
  • Is governance information tailored enough to the needs of governors, and is the information practicable for governors to assimilate within the timeframes they have available?

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