How do we measure progress and prioritise initiatives to make the biggest impact?

Achieving net zero emissions is one of the most pivotal and complex economy-wide transformations in UK government history. With enormous economic, social and environmental impacts, it requires large scale regulatory and infrastructure change, significant investment and unparalleled cross-government coordination. We were asked to advise a large policy-making government department on the oversight and coordination of the initiatives they had put in place to support delivery of the UK Government’s net zero goals. They’d established hundreds of supporting initiatives across multiple Directorates and needed to find an efficient and effective way of bringing this together, both to track delivery and to identify and effectively manage and mitigate cross-cutting risks.

Establishing a portfolio approach to focus on “doing the right things” and data-led decision making

First, we engaged with Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) to understand how the department was set up to support delivery against the UK Government’s net zero commitments, and how it was performing. We subsequently recommended three things – establishing a departmental net zero delivery portfolio, delivery focused governance, and a data-focused reporting approach. Having made these recommendations, we were then asked to design and establish them. 

This included creating a Delivery Board, to be chaired at the most senior level of the Department given the significance of the portfolio in delivering the UK Government’s net zero ambition. To put data-led decision making at the heart of the portfolio, we created a database covering over 100 data points for each initiative, and from an initial 150+ possible initiatives, we shortlisted 80 priorities. We applied analytics tools and dashboards to model aspects such as carbon emissions savings and lifetime costs for each initiative, enabling the Board to make informed decisions to support delivery.

This provided the department with a single view of net zero delivery activity across its Directorates and a repeatable model to track progress. Having set up the central portfolio office, we supported the recruitment and transition to a civil servant team, including training sessions on portfolio governance and Board-level reporting. Our collaborative coaching and knowledge transfer approach ensured that sector teams across the department successfully built their delivery capability and expertise. The established civil service team subsequently received a departmental delivery award based on the portfolio approach we developed, and a commendation from Ministers.  

Award-winning delivery, engaged teams, enhanced governance

The portfolio management infrastructure, tools, and governance we established has equipped the department to better manage the portfolio and to track its performance in a more rigorous and robust manner. The success of our approach led to us being asked to support the creation of a cross-Whitehall net zero portfolio engaging across government with other departments to monitor delivery of the government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution.

To find out more about shaping your portfolio delivery approach, please get in touch with Tom Woodhouse

"Baringa is a key and trusted delivery partner. They not only bring best practice methods alongside strong programme and project management rigour but equally have a depth of energy industry expertise. This means they don’t just “run processes” but truly add value in terms of understanding the content matter and identifying and managing plans, risks, issues and dependencies to keep programmes on track. Their ability to operate in a complex stakeholder landscape and work collaboratively across the organisation, as well as with external stakeholders, is another major plus point and a key factor in their success. I really enjoy working with Baringa and am continually impressed by the quality of their people."

SRO, National Programme within the Government Major Projects Portfolio

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