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Transformation guidance for Audit Committees

Source: National Audit Office

'Transformation programmes can be highly complicated and risky. This guidance assists those overseeing them by setting out questions committees should ask during set-up, delivery and live-running phases.

The government continues to aim to make significant savings and improve services by transforming organisational models and ways of working. For such programmes to achieve their intended benefits they must deliver a step-change in operations and service delivery – and not just, for example, a headcount reduction, or a new online means of accessing existing services.

Understanding and overseeing transformation programmes is harder than for more traditional programmes for three reasons. Firstly, transformation programmes can be very broad and organisations can be quite vague about intended outcomes. Secondly, they can evolve and change over time. Thirdly, it can be difficult to measure and evidence the real impact and know when a programme has succeeded or when it should close.

This guidance helps audit committees to encourage clarity about what management intends by transformation, how services will change, and the strategy for achieving the objectives. It sets out questions and the evidence and indicators to look out for at three stages:

  • Set-up: including vision, strategy, governance, architecture and the evolving nature of transformation.
  • Delivery: covering change and implementation, and service and performance management.
  • Live-running and benefits realisation: looking at people, process and technology.

Given the central role that data plays in transformation, the guidance also provides questions audit committees can ask about the role and management of data.

Our guidance is based on our previous work and provides links to other government guidance and NAO resources'.