Tackling Change in Estate Rationalisation

Mark Boorman
A challenging business environment is forcing many organisations to search for more efficient ways of using their assets.

In the current climate, many organisations are looking for a leaner and more efficient approach. Inevitably this involves a complex array of changes - and change is a huge challenge. My team helps clients to efficiently manage the change process and makes sure the benefits of those changes are delivered.

Drivers for change are many and varied, but usually begin with a need to re-align assets and operations with the organisation’s business strategy.

Drivers for change are many and varied, but usually begin with a need to re-align assets and operations with the organisation’s business strategy. Analysis may reveal a range of opportunities to rationalise and optimise an estate as a result of under-utilised or unsuitable space and changes in working practices.

We explore the issues and opportunities alongside our client, with a view to achieving cost-effective and fit for purpose space, which is flexible and can be reconfigured to meet future needs. There may also be redundant land and buildings, together with opportunities for sale and leaseback or opportunities to consolidate. We help clients to define a desirable end state, finding ways of achieving profitable outcomes and maximising business efficiency from these assets.

The next challenge is facilitating the journey – the ‘getting there’ part of the exercise. The best results are achieved when the consultant team is integrated with the client’s team, working together from the outset. There’s a real advantage in continuity of the same team through the lifecycle of the programme at strategic, operational and delivery level. This becomes even more important as the scale, complexity and sensitivity of the programme increases.

I have found that it adds huge value if the consultant has the right skill-set to rapidly integrate into the client’s way of doing business and this includes their processes, behaviours, culture and language. This is essential for making stakeholders feel more comfortable in the light of potential change.

An ability to integrate within the client’s business quickly is also a key skill. I have found that it adds huge value if the consultant has the right skill-set to rapidly integrate into the client’s way of doing business and this includes their processes, behaviours, culture and language. This is essential for making stakeholders feel more comfortable in the light of potential change.

Culture change is often a necessary part of the client’s plan and sensitivity is needed here. There are inevitably emotional elements inherent in change and it really helps to have an independent and objective view of complex issues, with someone on board who can ask the questions that are hard to ask internally.

There are always difficult decisions along the way and often these decisions are deferred because they are perceived as too difficult, sensitive or not tabled in the right forum. We help by retaining an overview of how the overall change is being delivered. We then identify which decisions are mission critical, bringing clarity, and help clients face those difficult moments and find the best solution.

We have spearheaded a range of successful programme management challenges recently, but we are especially proud of the results we achieved for Royal Mail. Our team helped Royal Mail reconfigure its entire London operation within the M25 with a major three-year change programme. There was a multi-million construction related investment and we completed many elements ahead of time and under budget.

We helped Royal Mail achieve a reduction of net 750,000 sq ft floor space, improved annual operational efficiencies of £30m, and significant real estate disposals. This was achieved by adaptation and rationalisation of existing operational sites and new property acquisition. The programme needed close co-ordination of construction, property development, operational, stakeholder relations and industrial relations issues.

Above all, we help our clients to make sense of the changing shapes of their business and how their property estate needs to respond.

As part of the multi-discipline programme team, we led on all construction and property related change within the programme from the strategic shaping and options-analysis stage through to board approval and into the delivery phases. Challenges included an unexpected need to accelerate elements of the programme, and still deliver the portfolio of 24 property projects on time. Royal Mail’s operations rely on densely populated sites that are in 24 hour use. We made sure that any interventions were properly planned - with safety as the top priority.

Above all, we help our clients to make sense of the changing shapes of their business and how their property estate needs to respond. We support them in planning and delivering their future needs with a programme management approach that provides continuity, objectivity and sensitivity. An integral approach from the outset ensures that our delivery plans overcome the inevitable challenges along the way and really do deliver the desired benefits.