Go Back
    Articles > How do we deliver sustainable change? – Top tips for managing a successful programme

How do we deliver sustainable change? – Top tips for managing a successful programme

Delivering sustainable change

In the next in our series of blogs, Con McGarry, a Managing consultant at Four Eyes Insight (FEI) shares his top tips into a successful programme.

 Project management is like juggling three balls – time, cost and quality.  Programme management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling three balls and swapping them from time to time.”  Geoff Reiss

So said project management trailblazer and thought leader Geoff Reiss, Mr. Programme Management to his friends! This quote perfectly captures the balance between precision and unpredictability evoked by project and programme management.  Multiple workstreams, competing priorities, risk mitigation, change management, the list goes on.  How do we at Four Eyes Insight balance these complexities to deliver successful programmes and sustainable long-term change for our NHS partners?

Here are my five top tips for managing successful projects and programmes:

1. Expect Uncertainty: While you may know the intended objectives and expected outputs of a programme, at the start it is often unclear how these goals will be achieved.  The exact path to achievement needs to be developed and translated to bring the project to life. Very often, this path will branch, U-turn, branch again and all circle back on themselves.  Change is something you need to be prepared for and is best tackled when you…

2. Plan, Plan, Plan: Give your team the best possible chance to succeed by planning how your programme will unfold at the earliest possible opportunity and plan as far as the horizon until you can’t plan any more.  Review initiation documents, get to grips with the outputs and deliverables expected by the client and offered in the engagement proposal (ensure these are the same!), and determine what good looks like.  Next, meet your team and stakeholders to discuss and get their input.  Capture all these thoughts as they will form the basis of your plan which will define your process, framework and key expectations.

3. Communication: Communication is the lifeblood of any successful programme and can be challenging.  FEI stakeholders range from operational and clinical teams to Executive sponsors and every level in between.  As such, it is important to develop a robust communications plan to ensure information and actions are shared appropriately and understood by all stakeholders.  It is equally important to apply this logic internally to communications within your delivery team.

4. Actions and Issues: Or more precisely, the management of actions and issues.  Quickly establish a robust review framework where progress is communicated, outputs are discussed, actions are agreed and issues are resolved.  These reviews, done right, should be short, sharp and focused.  This of course relies on effective administration of actions and issues where key decisions are captured and reviewed regularly to track progress and achievement.  It may sound tedious but it’s core to a successful programme.

5. Risk Management:  So important it needed its own bullet point detached from Actions and Issues, although there is a lot of crossover between the two themes.  Effectively identifying, classifying, and developing an appropriate response to risk cannot be overstated in successful programme management. Being proactive is the key to effective risk management and we at FEI invest the time in the early stages of the process and work effectively with our stakeholders to prepare each programme appropriately for risk prevention.

None of these ideas are ground-breaking but by revisiting these fundamentals and re-committing to them often, FEI are better prepared to balance the complexities of NHS projects and programmes.  By utilising the above tips we help organisations find the most effective ways to enable positive transformational change and sustain it.

To find out more about our work, please email us at