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COVID-19 series – Three steps to building a resilient business

From interrupted services and the closure of offices to the need to follow the Government’s stringent safety guidelines, businesses have faced several unexpected challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many have been forced to rapidly transform their systems and processes to provide employees with the equipment and know-how to work remotely.

While these changes might not have been planned, they should be viewed as a positive step in building a more resilient business. As we begin to adjust to a ‘new normal’, how can companies further improve their resilience and maintain business continuity?

1. Embrace technology

The majority of businesses have had to swiftly embrace remote working and cloud-based solutions over the last few months. Moving forward, the implementation of any further technology solutions must be carefully assessed and made in line with the organisation’s overall strategy. A business change expert can help to inform the decision-making process by objectively looking at the various needs of the company and selecting a system that suits it best.

2. Utilise analytics

The use of online systems and processes during the pandemic has led to many organisations having increased access to business data. When used correctly, this data can offer valuable insights into what is working well, and any changes needed to increase productivity and efficiency levels. Analytics can also enable businesses to better understand their client base, allowing them to stay competitive by identifying trends and making informed decisions.

3. Consider company culture

Culture lies at the heart of every company and should be reviewed regularly. Keeping employees in the loop regarding changes and seeking feedback on current and new processes can help to create a safe and supportive culture, which can, in turn, improve job retention and attract new talent.

For more information on building a resilient business, please contact Debora Marras or Matthew Garrett here.

Cultural migration: Finding the silver lining

Migrating systems to the cloud might seem like an obvious choice for businesses, as it allows them to save time and improve their efficiency. However, it is not always a simple task. Organisations must first understand the impacts it could have on people, processes, systems and infrastructure. So, what are the dos and don’ts of cloud migration projects?

Do:

  • Engage the workforce – Leaders should invest time in ensuring that employees are clear about the project’s objectives and the advantages. Once employees are onboard, it’s more likely that the project will succeed
  • Develop a detailed plan – Create a plan to help to drive maximum value from cloud migration initiatives and avoid any issues cropping up after project delivery. The plan should detail which applications or systems are to be migrated and how daily business disruption can be minimised
  • Gain external support – Seek the support of experts with experience in helping businesses to carry out migration projects is always a wise move

Don’t:

  • Migrate without testing applications first – It can be tempting to take the bull by the horns and migrate a large number of business areas without testing applications beforehand. However, it may be safer to migrate a small area to begin with. This ensures that the cloud system is performing as it should, before any sensitive data is moved over
  • ‘Shoehorn’ on-site applications for use on the cloud – Not all applications are suitable for use on the cloud. Trying to force them to work on it may stop them from functioning properly

By thoroughly considering how cloud computing will fit into their long-term strategy, and accepting that cloud migration is likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint, businesses can reap the benefits of a successful migration project long into the future.

For more information on how to migrate systems to the cloud, please contact Luke Taylor.

Covid-19 Series – working practices

Remote working has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many businesses having to adapt their working practices in order to function. However, lockdown won’t last forever, and employers should be considering how to prepare their workforce for the return to the office.

Not just a luxury

In 2019, only 30 percent of UK employees worked from home. Remote working was generally seen as a bonus, but this is likely to change.

The changes required in response to COVID-19 have offered real insights into the future of UK business.  The truth is that employees can still be just as productive at home, the flexibility of home working can improve work / life balance, and there are a number of clear financial benefits in terms of reducing both office and travel costs. As such, business leaders should consider whether this new approach to working could play an important role in the company, even after lockdown ends.

Time for change

Now that the benefits of remote working have been highlighted on a countrywide scale, the opportunity to take a brand-new approach to the workplace has arisen. However, to successfully embrace this change, businesses should evaluate their processes so far.

By carrying out an internal survey, or seeking the help of a professional, companies can discover any weaknesses in resources or communication before post-lockdown initiatives are introduced.

Technological transformation

To allow people to work from home effectively, many businesses have had to make technological investments. For example:

  • Online collaboration tools to make sure colleagues and clients can stay connected
  • Cloud-based solutions to ensure databases are accessible from anywhere

If flexible working is to continue after lockdown, businesses should now assess the effectiveness of these processes and consider whether further investment is necessary, in order to achieve the best results.

Offering support

As well as technology, individuals may also need emotional support. Regular check-ins can identify any concerns they might have about returning to the office, allowing changes to be made with employees in mind. This could include offering flexible working hours for those still juggling other commitments, staggering start times for those who use public transport, or providing the option to work from home for part of the week.

New beginnings

Remote working requires an initial investment, both in terms of time and technology, but when done right, it offers a host of personal and financial benefits. Business leaders are now faced with an opportunity to welcome these positive changes and take a new approach to working life that could improve both productivity and employee wellbeing.

To find out more about how to help your workforce cope with life after lockdown, please contact Dave Fisher.

Three top tips for successful cultural integration

Cultural integration isn’t always a business’s number one priority when undertaking a merger and acquisition (M&A). However, too much focus on time and cost alone, instead of on the needs of employees, could have considerable implications for the long-term success of consolidation activity.

So, what are the three main pitfalls that organisations need to avoid when it comes to M&A activity?

1. Invest in your employees

If employees don’t feel supported by a business, there is a risk of productivity levels falling and commercial objectives being missed. As such, open communication with employees is vital; adopting a consistent approach can help in achieving this.

By keeping employees engaged with the change process, they are more likely to remain happy. In turn this improves retention and minimises additional marketing and recruitment costs.

2. Start with a health check

In order to streamline the cultural integration process, businesses should begin by identifying their ideal target culture. From here, the company should undertake a thorough business health check, which examines key areas such as employee motivation and commitment to the existing brand. Once this information has been collected, a rigorous impact assessment should be conducted to determine how cultural change will affect the business across four key areas:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Infrastructure

3. Plan ahead

The truth is that successful culture change does not happen overnight. Failing to allow sufficient time for changes to become embedded could ultimately make the difference between business success and failure. Seeking quality third-party advice at an early stage of the project can also help businesses to avoid any pitfalls that could negatively impact the project further down the line.

By considering cultural integration during M&As, as well as time and cost, businesses can maximise commercial advantages from consolidation activity and ensure the workforce stays happy long after the project is complete.

For more information on how to successfully carry out M&A activity, please contact Peter Marsden or Debora Marras.

A day in the life of… Luke Taylor

In a nutshell, what do you do?

Put simply, being a programme manager involves working closely with businesses to help transform the way they work. We are basically problem solvers. In my role, good people skills are everything; a typical programme involves talking with different clients and stakeholders to ensure everything is joined up and moving in the same direction.

My main passion is digital transformation and during my three and a half years with Entec Si, I’ve been lucky enough to work across many sectors, from local and central government to the not-for-profit sector.

What do you love about your job, and why?

I love that I get to meet lots of interesting people at work. In particular, drilling down into their motivations for wanting change is fascinating. I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in developing talent too, whether that be mentoring our junior team members, or upskilling clients on site.

However, probably the best thing about my role is being able to experience the entire programme lifecycle, from kick-off right through to completion, and witness the power of positive change on client outcomes first-hand.

What is most challenging about your job, and why?

The flip side of working with lots of different stakeholders is the need to constantly manage expectations. This can be tricky when working with large organisations and requires a delicate touch to ensure everyone is on the same page, and working towards a common goal.

The varied nature of programme management means that it’ll never be 100 per cent straightforward. However, as someone who enjoys a challenge, I try to see obstacles as opportunities to learn and progress.

What three words would you use to describe Entec Si as a business? Please explain your choices!

“Variety”, “fun” and “opportunity”. One of the best things about working at Entec Si is that you never know what the day will bring! For example, one day you might be delivering a cloud migration project for a local council and the next you’re helping to launch a passenger self-service system for an airport.

I‘ve chosen “fun” because even when the going gets tough, the team always tries to keep everyone’s spirits up. We all enjoy our regular social events and away days too!

Finally, “opportunity” is the perfect word to describe the business as its investment in people is second-to-none.

What route did you take into the world of business change?

From a young age, I set my sights on following in my father’s footsteps within the legal industry by becoming a barrister, which I know is quite an unusual career aspiration for a child! However, while studying law at university, I decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to do as a living.

Organising the university’s Critical Law Conference gave me a taste for driving stakeholder engagement and seeing the pay-off from successful project delivery. After graduating, I saw an advert for a junior project manager role at the Home Office and realised that the key skills I’d developed – reasoning, planning and analytics – were a good fit for a consultancy career. After three years working on different projects around the UK, I found a role advertised with Entec Si. The rest is history!

What do you wish you’d known when you started your career?

That it’s ok to make mistakes! It’s often when things get tough that your skills show through – without things going wrong, how can you learn?

I also wish I’d known that it’s fine to ask for help sometimes. No matter what point you’re at in your career, there will always be things you don’t know.

What has been your best ever moment at Entec Si?

Without a doubt, it was the delivery of CSSC’s digital service programme. It was the culmination of 18 months of hard work, but seeing the impact of the organisation’s new website, CRM system and events booking tool made every moment worthwhile! It was also a programme which saw other junior members of the team make huge strides in terms of their professional development, which was really great to see.

What would your ideal weekend look like?

One which involves playing or watching sport of some kind! I love the camaraderie you experience when playing rugby, and I’m a member of Old Newtonians RFC. My other passion outside of work is live music, so I go to gigs and festivals whenever I can. If it’s a more relaxed weekend, one of my more unusual hobbies is playing board games with friends and family – our favourite at the moment is a railway-themed game called ‘Ticket to Ride’!

Covid-19 Series – local government

While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting organisations across all sectors, local authorities have several specific obstacles to overcome. Providing vital public services, local government departments have had to quickly adapt their processes, despite budget and technology restraints.

However, with careful planning and the right specialist expertise, councils can continue to meet the needs of their communities, while implementing new working strategies that safeguard employee safety and wellbeing.

Modernising processes

As a provider of “key public services” set out by the Government, local councils are playing a crucial role during the current crisis. With many services experiencing an uptick in demand due to coronavirus and gaps in resources, councils may need to modernise their processes, such as IT and technology, in order to meet this growing need and protect employees.

Remote but connected working

Despite tight budgets and often limited technology infrastructure, much like many other businesses, local government are too having to implement remote working arrangements. To do so effectively, councils need to supply workers with the right technology solutions and think ahead in terms of the impacts that remote working might have on the organisation’s people, processes, systems and infrastructure

Keeping up communication

Over time, working from home may lead to a feeling of isolation. If left unsupported, employees may become disengaged and detached from their teams and the wider organisation; which could damage the overall dynamic and may lead to a dip in productivity. By maintaining an open line of communication and emphasising trust in workers to manage their workload, leaders can maintain team motivation.

Get the right expertise

The need for rapid organisational changes can cause disruption to everyday processes, however, with the right support this can be minimised, and local authorities can ensure that changes are made to last. By relying on experienced specialists, authorities can be successful in relieving short-term pressures and realising the council’s long-term goals.

Through strategic thinking and planning, councils can adapt for the “new normal” in working practices. By adapting to the emerging COVID-19 situation and modernising their processes accordingly, local authorities can emerge from this crisis as more agile organisations.

For more information on how to deliver an effective COVID-19 response, please contact Julie Smith.

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Contact us at info@entecsi.com