Does your organisation need a Critical Friend?

The concept of a Critical Friend is not new to the sector or Hart Square.

Wikipedia calls it:

  • “A trusted person who asks provocative questions… A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward.”

However, in our work with our clients, this term is often used thus:

  • “Our organisation needs a critical friend to support the change we are planning this year”
  • “We see you as our critical friend, our trusted advisor on projects”

When we join an organisation, we understand the responsibility given to us to perform this role. We respect the trust it takes to offer us this role. We appreciate the need to add value in this role.

But what exactly is a Critical Friend in a non-profit change project?

Below is a simple guide to how Hart Square provides value through healthy challenge in the projects we deliver. These are some of our Critical Friend services if you like:

Business cases

It can at times be difficult to convince people to commit to change, especially to a change budget. Our business case development defines and then challenges the technology status quo. We help amplify the need for investment, so it is heard above the many reasons not to change.

Requirements Gathering and Process Reviews

Whether identifying requirements for a new system or improvements to your processes, we ask the difficult questions in workshops with your teams.

These are not simple listing exercises. Our workshops involve questioning why things remain the way they do, so a tender may include what is truly needed from new systems, beyond what is desired.

Partner selection

We do not select partners for you. We simply don’t. Our role in selection is to put in place a proven, well-structured process for you to follow and be equitable in your decision-making. Encouraging balanced views of partner engagement and your own selection criteria so you make bold, secure and successful procurement choices.

Project Preparation Services

Often, the need here is to challenge the view that preparation can start later or lighter than proposed. It takes commitment to plan and prepare for change. Our team focuses on working with your internal leads to mobilise the organisation for change.

Implementation Services

System implementation is a mountain climb. Along that dizzying path, with your technology partner, we challenge any desire to take dangerous short cuts or ignore risks. We provide an ongoing side-by-side guide to get you up and back down the Go Live Mountain.

Post Implementation Services, Support Services

Projects still risk stopping or slowing down on Go Live day. In reality, change still needs governing and stabilising after systems have launched. Our team helps you challenge any impulse to stand still so you can truly drive continuous improvement.


The examples given above are naturally using our own services as a context of course, but the intention is wider; to show you the value of having a critical friend to guide and challenge you in any change programme.

Across all our services, we are always professional in the way we provide a healthy challenge to our clients. We are not your staff. We are not your governors. We will happily be your organisation’s Critical Friend if you need us. Get in touch to find out more.

Getting set up for success; planning for a post Go-Live world

At Hart Square, we have the great pleasure of working with our clients across the non-profit sector, delivering transformative technology projects which will support and enhance the experience of members, fundraisers, and beneficiaries as well as their employees.

As we say regularly though, implementing new technology isn’t the objective of these projects, nor indeed is the go-live of some new technology the end of the project. What happens after go-live is critical to your overall success so I want to set out just some of the ways you can plan for a post go-live world, to ensure you get the best out of your investment.

Keyways to ensure any non-profit organisation is set for success include consideration of the following:

  • planning well in advance
  • developing local champions within the project team
  • looking beyond the first go live with a long-term technology roadmap

Planning and preparation is critical; as soon as the discovery phase of your new technology implementation has been completed, start looking ahead to both the go-live and what is beyond; that is crucial. It is vitally important to start thinking about what business as usual will look like once the system has been launched and the technology partner steps back into a support role.

Team capacity and skillset

A first consideration is the capability of the team in place, which means analysing both their capacity and their skillset. Key members of the team are likely to have been either seconded to the project or to be working on the project alongside their day jobs. They may well be expected to drop back into their full-time role in one of the business teams, so will take their knowledge with them as well as not being available to support and encourage other staff as the system beds in.

For some of you, it may be an option for those key people to take on full-time roles supporting the organisation’s use and enhancement of the solution, creating a vacancy behind them for you to recruit into. For others, it may mean you need to identify new individuals who will manage internal support in the longer term, and that may involve a training needs assessment to be delivered before the go-live.

On the subject of training, identifying ‘super-users’ across different departments in the organisation, and agreeing on a comprehensive detailed training plan which initiates early in the implementation, will allow those business experts to be confident in the technology and how they can gain the greatest benefit from it. With that knowledge and confidence, they’ll prove invaluable rolling out and bedding the system in, including being a key channel for ideas around new working processes, system enhancements and so on.

Aligned with this, is identifying those individuals who are best placed to champion the project internally and to maximise the benefits of the project after go-live.

Realising the benefits of your investment

As I mentioned earlier, implementing new technology is rarely the core objective of your project, you’re looking to bring about change and deliver benefits to your communities and employees. At the outset then you need to be agreeing on the benefits you’re seeking to achieve, assigning responsibilities for ensuring these are kept in focus, and tracking their realisation. While there may be some benefits associated with simply making modern technology available, the majority will be about what that enables so prioritising benefits realisation is a critical next step after your go-live, but is a project of its own to plan for upfront.

It is important to have that plan in place not only to ensure benefits are realised, but to back the plan up by developing champions of the project who can support the plan across the organisation, and ensuring that the communications plan delivers positive messaging to ensure the project momentum is not lost.

Resourcing beyond go-live

Technology solution implementations can be painful at times, especially where you’re replacing longstanding but outdated systems, and trying to drive change through your organisation alongside it. One of your significant risks is that by the time you do put the first phase of the new solution live, your team (and your organisation as a whole) is tired, grateful just to have “got the system over the line” or “finished the project at last”. The risk here is that the go-live becomes the end game of your change programme when it’s not supposed to be anything of the sort.

By ensuring a smaller, flexible project team is retained in place for post go-live to start to realise the benefits and to track any post go-live issues, you’re setting yourself up to carry on with your roadmap to success. You can ensure the issues you will raise are managed and dealt with swiftly, the new system has a governance structure around it to gatekeep new ideas, and your communications plan is in place to continue to promote the project and its benefits.

Your success will largely come about long after the first go-live; this is just the first step on the roadmap, and it is likely that there will be future phases where you really accelerate your new ways of working, once you all understand what the new technology is capable of.

Ensuring you have put a comprehensive roadmap in place with tangible milestones, your organisation can flourish after go-live. Crucially by having champions across the business you can ensure high adoption rates of the solution and seek buy-in of all users. Backing this up by delivering a detailed training programme will build confidence in the system and allow you to maximise business benefits as your teams get to grips with the new technology.


Are you looking to plan for a post go-live world?
Get in touch to find out how we can help you get set up for success.

10 objectives for your change programme

A change programme is a process that allows change to be implemented in an organisation both effectively and efficiently. To ensure successful change is achieved you first need to create a plan for the change and identify the top objectives.

Here are our top 10 objectives that you should consider for your change programme.

Click here to view the 10 objectives for your change programme infographic

  1. Empower all staff – So they feel valued and are keen to participate
  2. Change mindsets – To update organisational culture
  3. Integrate teams- Build collaborative processes
  4. Break down data silos – Ownership of data will be shared
  5. Allow more time to be analytical – To able to put your data to work
  6. Underpin more timely decision-making- Ensuring people have access to the information they need
  7. Provide a shared, holistic view of your audiences – To enable better engagement with them
  8. Enable staff to work more independently – With appropriate support and oversight
  9. Have more flexibility to evolve your ways of working – Give staff freedom to innovate
  10. Allow staff to do their jobs more effectively – Let technology handle the heavy administrative tasks

Are you looking to get started on your change programme? Get in touch to find out how we can help you successfully achieve change in your organisation.

Why sorting your data is critical to the success of your new CRM implementation

Driven by the need to improve engagement with donors and supporters, services for members, and their own internal effectiveness, non-profits across the UK are routinely looking for new digital systems. Now facing the constraints of pandemic-hit funding and the recession which may well be on the horizon, many need new systems to enable them to meet the demands to “do more with less”.

Whilst it’s not always easy to know where to start, for many the imperative is to implement a modern CRM to bring their people and processes together, to connect up and be the home of their data, and to become the power behind their effective operations.

The third sector is all about relationships, so having a CRM solution at the heart of your digital engagement strategy is a must-have for any modern non-profit which wants to prosper. Moreover, it needs to function as the hub of your integrated digital solutions suite.

Having a CRM solution at the heart of your digital engagement strategy is simply a must-have for an effective modern non-profit

I’m certainly not suggesting having a well-designed and implemented CRM is the panacea for everything we face right now, and if you’re reading this and thinking “yes that’s where I’m at right now, we’re going to need to find and implement a new CRM” then I have many questions to ask, but can I start by asking you whether you’ve got full knowledge and governance over your data? If not, have you initiated a project to get your data in order?

That’s right, you haven’t even made the business case for a strategic investment in a change programme driven by new technology, let alone define the series (and sequence) of the projects which will form your digital transformation programme, and I’m asking whether you’ve made a start on your data migration!

Seriously, isn’t data a dull backwater we’ll just sort out when we need to?

Not at all is the answer there. Your data is fundamental to your ultimate success. Your future engagement strategy and related investment in new technology are based on being able to leverage your data, as information which informs your priorities, your plans, your actions.

So having good clean data you can access, mine and use is a key goal which means you need to know what you’ve got, understand its value, keep the information which will help you and ditch that which won’t.

Hark back to GDPR principles, catalogue your data, justify holding it, appoint guardians and owners, and get to work on it. Yes, I know you’re still writing your business case but time is of the essence here and we see way too many CRM implementation projects take far longer than they should – than they needed to – just because the data isn’t ready. Honestly, it’s a really expensive mistake to make.

Now start to plan the migration. To get an appropriate amount of data out of old, disparate, disconnected systems and into a new highly-functional, connected CRM you’ll need to consolidate and rationalise, you need to clean and de-dupe, and to document what you’re going to want in your new solution.

I’ll write more about the actual data migration strand of your project in the next weeks but will stop here for now, noting that none of the tasks and activities I’ve recommended you get started on is reliant on you knowing what technology you’re going to implement. So you don’t have to wait for the business case to be agreed upon, requirements gathering, or a tendering exercise to take place, you can make a start now.

Hey, even if you don’t end up initiating a change programme and a CRM replacement project for months or even years yet, this will be a valuable piece of work. You’ll have cleaner data and a better understanding of it so you can then put it to work!


Are you looking to get started on your digital transformation journey?

Get in touch to find out how we can help you achieve your digital ambitions 

10 key tips when you’re selecting new technology

Selecting new technology is never easy, but it’s something we’ve guided hundreds of clients through successfully.

From the wealth of knowledge we have gathered, here are some of our tips on how to get the best out of the process:

  1. Prepare for the selection process
    • Agree a set of key decision-making criteria prior to circulation of the ITT, on which to frame discussions during and in conclusion of the process.
  2. Allow the Technology Partners to ask questions that might seem obvious from the ITT
    •  They will have only had the ITT a short time, and may have interpreted certain aspects incorrectly. Keep the discussion points on topic, and don’t get too focused on the details in a given area.
  3. Attend all technical demonstrations
    • Ensure that the whole selection panel attend all of the demonstrations, and that they understand that this is not the final solution they’re seeing, but an example of what’s possible.
  4. Note your responses
    • Read all the submissions and note any concerns, questions and thoughts, plus any major areas aspects which should be covered during the Final Presentations.
  5. Prepare for final presentations
    • Pre-meet as a team to review the written responses and plan what you need to hear at final presentation, avoiding the temptation to make final decisions or influence others’ opinions at this stage.
  6. Refer to your checklist
    • Listen to what the partners have to say and refer to your checklist to ensure any concerns or questions you prepared are addressed and clarified.
  7. Conduct reference checks
    • Conduct the same number of reference calls for each candidate Partner, to ensure balance, and draw up a list of agenda items/talking points which will be covered to ensure consistency.
  8. Due diligence
    • Review the information provided and raise any questions with the Technology Partner, discussing any concerns openly; there will be context to much of the written information which may not initially be obvious.
  9. Understand partner models
    • Take time to understand the model under which the partners operate, responsibilities across all parties, and that most partners will use standard, well-established contractual master terms and conditions.
  10. Review and reassess
    • Review and reassess each of the Partners against the original decision-making criteria, while appreciating that you will have learnt a lot along the way about what really matters to you, so you don’t have to be wedded to the criteria you agreed a few months prior.

For more insights into how to run successful partner selections, join our Training Programme on delivering successful projects, which is free for all non-profits.


I’ve changed, you’ve changed, can we talk?

Re-evaluating system requirements in the Covid-19 context

In everything we have faced in the past twelve months let’s simply say the Covid-19 impact on our working lives represents a massive paradigm shift.

Now, systems are systems. The heart of what you do will not have been knocked out of its natural rhythm. Even if it has, it is our sincere hope you are returning it to a manageable resting heartrate!

There is a simple point here though: it is ok and indeed necessary to recognise some needs have been disrupted and thus your system requirements have changed.

Now, we would all be forgiven for an onset of panic, especially if you are in or entering any of the following project stages right now:

  • Starting your requirements gathering exercise, autonomously or with Hart Square.
  • Working with staff and others to refine your list of requirements for a tender process.
  • Engaging with potential partners to help you deliver a set of requirements.
  • Managing a project against requirements defined last year, or even pre-Covid 19.

Against these tremors, help is at hand.

Below are simple tips to recover a greater sense of security about what your organisation needs from a system, and how it gets what it needs in relationship with your technology partners.

The simple advice here is to use all available communication and negotiation channels to openly discuss with your partner what has changed and how best to respond together.

Not just relevant to systems, that one!

Here are some additional tips to help you manage this process of re-evaluation:

  • In an internal leadership team, plan how you will engage with your staff and stakeholders on the organisation’s approach to requirements affected by Covid-19:
    • “We acknowledge we are more online than ever now. We must also focus on practical requirements that ensure we can fully support our move to online working this year.”
  • Before and then within your facilitated workshops with staff and stakeholders gathering requirements, set out a brief which includes them in the process of re-evaluation:
    • “Given how much our working patterns have changed, what are the top priority needs you think the organisation has now? How best may we work online safely and more easily?”
  • State the obvious with staff and stakeholders to target areas of improvement long in dire need of change:
    • “We cannot keep information in cabinets and on local network drives, not now we have a desire and need to share information online and work more from home.”
    • “What are the requirements that will help us put any end to heavy paper processing and unreliable processes once and for all now?”
  • Within your outgoing tender document, consider framing a narrative overview of any key areas of potential risk or opportunity within your requirements:
    • “X and Y areas need greater engagement and discussion during the selection process.”
  • When meeting potential technology partners for selection, directly ask what Covid-19 impact has taught them and what better support they can offer now.
    • “What way are you supporting clients right now with online collaboration tools, use of personal devices at home, greater risks to data security, higher web traffic than before?”
  • If your project is in progress, discuss with partners how Waterfall or Agile delivery can help you:
    • A Waterfall delivery may still expect upfront signoff of a full Specification, yet a sound assumption around change request budgets in high-risk areas is worth discussing.
    • An Agile delivery may offer more time to define User Story Details after initial signoff of Epics and Features. Again, if agreed change control is in place, this is an option.

From here? The world is your oyster!

Technology roadmaps and strategies are being re-considered and revolutionised right now. Across the sector, we have been catapulted into full remote working and are in mid-air still working it out.

This moment of change will keep you and your partner in busy discourse for many moons to come.

Simply uphold the principles that keep these relationships healthy: honesty, trust, candour, respect, positive challenge, creativity, responsibility, discipline, partnership, and reciprocity…

We are still talking about systems, right?!


For more insight into how to deliver successful projects, join our 6-part Training Programme on that very subject. The programme is free to attend for non-profits.

Top tips for an effective partner selection process

Selecting the right technology partner can be a tricky process. The ultimate success of your implementation project can often rest on how well you work with your tech partner, how well they understand you and your requirements, and how well you understand them and their abilities as well.

It does not always just come down to identifying a new supplier of technology, it’s also about identifying a key contributor of your project team.

From the numerous partner selection processes we have run, we know there can be a lot at stake. So here are our top tips to help you get the best out of the process.

Click here to download the Top Tips for an effective partner selection process infographic

Top tips for an effective partner selection process

    1. Share your mission and cause with them –They have often specifically chosen to work in the non-profit sector and are attached to it, as you are.
    2. Ask them to contribute to your future state – Challenge them and ask how they can contribute to your organisation’s future. Don’t limit them to telling you how they can give you the technology functionality you’ve requested.
    3. Share openly and honestly with them – Share your goals and priorities for the project as well as any concerns and doubts you have. These should also be their goals for the future.
    4. Be open to different approaches – Invite them to give you a variety of options for how to achieve the outcomes you want
    5. Allow them to show you what their technology is capable of – beyond just the features you’re directly interested in at this point.
    6. Acknowledge their experience – and give them scope to demonstrate its value to you.
    7. Speak about any issues – If issues arise from due diligence checks or client references speak to the partners about them, let them give their side of any stories or situations.
    8. Try not to be too cynical about their pricing proposals being close to your budget – They want to give you as much as possible for the funding you have available.

Remember a partner selection process is a mutual decision and not a one-way street. Just as you will asses a partner’s fit for your organisation, they will too assess whether you are the right fit for their organisation.


For more insight into high-quality partner selection processes, join our free-to-non-profits Training Programme “How to deliver successful projects”. The whole course is based on our in-depth knowledge of change programmes and project delivery.

Is an MVP implementation the right approach for me and my digital project?

With the emergence of Agile as the preferred methodology for most software implementation projects in the non-profit sector, one of the more common early discussions we have with clients who are planning a digital project is now around Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Specifically, the questions we get asked focus on “what is it?”, “what does it mean in practice?”, and “is it right for me?”.

What is MVP?

Before we get in to the detail of the discussion, let’s first reflect on what MVP is meant to be, by taking the purist definition:

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

That definition is clear and valid, but it is purist and very difficult to apply in most of our projects, specifically because most of our projects involve the replacement of an existing system upon which a number of business functions and users rely. So could we simply replace “satisfy early adopters” with “prevent any degradation in service”, meaning that the new product or solution only has to enable us to do what the current solution does at the time of MVP launch?

There’s certainly an approach there which could be more widely applicable, in respect of the first half of the definition, but what about the second half, which speaks more to the purpose of the model. We have to have enough of an MVP release to enable us to assess the strengths, and weaknesses, of the solution, such that we can learn valuable lessons which will influence and impact the future releases.

Within that, the solution itself has to be flexible enough that we can adapt to the lessons we learn from MVP, not just in future releases but potentially also in retro-fitting features into the MVP implementation. What’s more, we have to be confident enough in the technology and partner to invest in the MVP release with a fair degree of uncertainty around the composition and nature (and cost) of future releases.

This is starting to sound quite challenging now, to fully understand and to put into practice.  It is though very much on trend to be promoting the model, so we need to think more specifically about how this could benefit the projects we’re initiating. Arguably then, it’s at this point that we need to put the purist definition back in the textbook and focus on the real-world benefits and disadvantages for our projects. The points below are those we discuss with our clients, in a more pragmatic vein, noting they are discussion points…!

What does it mean in practice?

Potential advantages of an MVP approach
  • You may be able to define a smaller, shorter initial implementation, which will carry less risk and involve a reduced initial investment in time and resources
  • You may be able to use MVP as a leader to prove that you can deliver successful projects
  • You will learn a lot from the project as a whole:
    • About the tech how it works, what it’s capable of
    • About the partner
    • About yourselves, your culture, your appetite for, and attitude towards, to change
  • You can identify champions and those who want to develop within your organisation
  • You should get a big data (and/or content) migration hurdle out of the way (as you’re replacing your current solution)
  • The scope can be adapted over time (but this comes with health warnings!)
  • You’ll be able to review business processes incrementally
  • You could go live with a ‘skinny’ but successful MVP and go on to build out a better informed, and de-risked, complete solution
Perceived drawbacks of the model
  • Your project may be seen in some quarters as a once in a lifetime change, which will exhaust you, so it needs to be one-pass generational change and a small MVP won’t cut it.
  • Your funders and senior stakeholders may be underwhelmed at the prospect of an MVP which only replaces current functionality despite them signing off a significant investment.
  • You may create a bun fight for what’s in scope.
  • Some stakeholders will resist and question “Will there ever be a Phase Two?”: you’ll need to give clear assurances.
  • You do still need to fund and resource the full project.
  • The demands you’ll place on your resources will go on for longer.
  • You need to be able to make resource available to run your MVP release as your live system, plus retain a project team for Phase Two – with a particular crunch around key resources, and your project team

Suppose it doesn’t go so well, MVP extends, everyone gets tired, the money runs out…

All of these points are valid for discussion and need to be carefully considered, in your context

By analysing the points above and seeing which weigh strongest on you and your organisation, you’ll start to get a good sense of the ultimate question…

Is it right for me? Or how do I know if it’s right for me?

In light of the pro’s and con’s above, it’s important to asses them against the criteria below:

  • People and the demands you’ll place on them
  • Culture can your organisation cope with the nature of incremental change
  • Budget can your budget be flexible and long-lasting enough
  • Discipline do you and your team have the discipline to manage scope

To succeed with an MVP approach you need a clear vision of the scope of your MVP and subsequent Phases, also based on what you need when.

In the eternal love triangle of time vs scope vs budget, we find that an MVP model works best where Time is the driving factor in the initial project. This is especially effective where you have hard timelines, driven by external constraints

Consider what capacity you have to deploy workarounds after the MVP release, from both a capacity and also user buy-in perspective.

Critically consider what resources you have available to deliver multiple releases, and to transition them into new ways of working whilst working on the next release.

Finally, test out the technology partner you’re working with: is MVP a core part of their model or is it opportunistic? If they’re promoting MVP because it’s on trend as opposed ot being baked into their method then it’s best avoided.

At the end of the day of course, MVP isn’t a new and radical concept.

The principle of defining phased implementations of new technology, as opposed to “big bang” launches, has been around for decades and remains a strong option for anyone. It’s become the current trend on the back of Agile’s current pre-eminence, but you don’t have to adopt a full Agile model to benefit from some components, so maybe that’s the takeaway.

When planning your implementation, break the deliverables out into potential phases and see if that’s viable for you. Can you replace elements of your current technology landscape incrementally, maintaining business-as-usual, without degrading services, and without having to invest significant additional funds to re-work integrations through the phases.

If you can, if you can resource it, and if culturally you buy in to the concept, then consider whether it’s more beneficial for you than one big implementation, including the considerations listed in this article in your decision making.

As a final “if”; if a phased model works for you and your technology partner, you can come back round to the original question, knowing what your drivers are for a phased implementation. Consider how close you are to the MVP minimalism of launching iterations of “what you need, when” with the primary purpose of learning from each iteration and using that feedback to influence the next phase, including building out full feature sets.

By then you’ll have worked out whether you’re going for big bang or a phased approach; whether you’re going for a phased approach or an MVP model; and whether the last point is just semantics!


For more insight into what it takes to implement new digital solutions, join our free-to-non-profits Training Programme “How to deliver successful projects”. The whole course is based on our in-depth knowledge of change programmes and project delivery, including Module 5 “Delivering a successful system implementation

6 steps to begin your digital transformation journey

Digital transformation is by no means an easy task. The term transformation itself is defined as a marked or complete change. Small changes can often be hard to implement so where do you begin when it comes to a transformation?  

Here at Hart Square, we have spent the last 11 years supporting over 200 memberships organisations, charities and trade associations achieve their digital ambitions. Over this time, we have gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge on digital transformation projects and have seen that for many organisations it can be difficult to know exactly where to startBased on our experience then, we wanted to share with you our 6 steps to begin your digital transformation journey.  

Step 1: Identify what digital transformation will mean to your organisation

It is important to note that digital transformation will look different for every organisation. This being the case, it is essential that you identify what a transformation could look like for you.  

Firstly, analyse and describe the challenges you are facing. What are the root causes of these problems?  

Alongside identifying challenges, it is important to have a vision for the future. What are the strategic aims of your organisation?  

Step 2: Analyse your current capabilities

Once you understand your core challenges and have a vision for what you want to become, it is important to examine your current ways of working and analyse what technologies are used across your organisation.  

Understanding where you are now, what you’re currently capable of, and where you’re significantly inhibited, will allow you to identify the gaps and opportunities which digital transformation can address for you 

This will prove valuable throughout the decision-making process, for example when prioritising between initiatives which are competing for funding or resources, and put you in the best position for project success.  

Step 3: Explore how digital can enable your change

Once you have identified your strategic aims and examined your current capabilities, you now are in the best position to explore how digital can enable your change.   

At a high level, this involves exploring the technology investment options that would help you achieve your strategic aims. This can include decommissioning and replacing current technologies but equally can involve enhancing your current technology through upgrades, integrations, additional features, and by training employees.  

Step 4: Get buy-in

To get your programme started and funded, it is crucial to get executive buy-in. Creating a successful business case will answer executives’ questions on the programme purpose, the benefits and resources required as well as timelines. The business case will support decision-making by providing clarity on options, costs and impact 

To achieve buy in, it is crucial to determine and communicate what is the best use of budgets and resources to create the most enabled versions of yourselves.  

Step 5: Create a roadmap

Creating a roadmap is an essential step to ensure your programme has a flow and remains on track. Through effective planning and mapping the key stages to achieve your digital ambitions, you can prioritise projects within a timeline to complete the programme. It also allows your teams to remain accountable and aligned to the overall programme vision. 

However, it is worth noting that a digital transformation programme can sometimes take years to complete. Therefore, the roadmap that you create at the beginninwill need review, and may need adjusting, some time into the programme, allowing you to take advantage of new opportunities and to mitigate risks.  

Step 6: Gather resources and expertise

Creating change on any scale is heavily dependent on the availability and skillset of your resources. Do not underestimate the importance of creating the right team to deliver your transformation programmeEnsuring your internal team have the right skills as well as capacity to deliver the projects, is essential to keep the programme moving forward and preventing burnout of your staff. 

Where your team are expected to deliver the programme alongside their existing roles, you need to invest in back-filling day jobs for core programme and project leads, and in supplementing key business teams. 

Alongside your internal team, bringing in external support can provide expertise and guidance on best practices and approaches, and well as valuable insight into how to navigate the tech landscape. This can help put your programme in the best position for success.   


Are you looking to get started on your digital transformation journey?

Get in touch to find out how we can help you achieve your digital ambitions 

What happens when it rains – is moving to the cloud always a good thing?

Throughout the last year, organisations and individuals have had to adapt to remote working and a reliance on online collaboration tools such as SharePoint, G-Suite, Slack and Dropbox. However, even before the pandemic struck, many organisations were moving their systems and information to the cloud. Against this backdrop, the question arises whether moving to the cloud is a good thing, and what are the main associated risks which organisations should consider?

Up to 83% of companies will use cloud-based software to make their work easier and faster

The move to the cloud is now probably irreversible, with Forbes Magazine estimating that up to 83% of companies will use cloud-based software to make their work easier and faster. There are some considerable advantages available, which have proven incredibly beneficial for companies over the last year. In particular the cloud has been a key factor in allowing flexible working for employees who can still easily collaborate on projects, and access their core information from anywhere efficiently.

Cloud based applications such as SharePoint, Teams, the G-Suite, and so on allow for full visibility of, and real-time collaboration on, critical business information, ensuring that work can continue when not in a physical office. Within the context of projects at Hart Square, working in the cloud has allowed us to continue to deliver and collaborate with our clients and to ensure vital projects do not stall.

Additionally, there are considerable security benefits that moving to the cloud brings now; data centre operators, and the service providers who host servers, data and infrastructure within them for clients, have to invest exceptional amounts into the security layers they put in place, well beyond anything that we as individual businesses could justify. Ensuring data centres are secure and safe is fundamental to the viability of their business.

This allows you to access your data from anywhere in the world, so even if you did lose a laptop this need not result in a catastrophic loss of data and embarrassing headlines, although there are warnings to heed too.

Risks and mitigation

As the recent Solar Winds Hack on the US Government has shown, once data is stored online it cannot be 100% protected. The security technology around it may be state of the art but, at the same time, data centres and hosting operations are considered higher-value targets for hackers and cyber terrorists, so there is an inherent risk in moving to the cloud that you do actually make yourself more of a target, more vulnerable to attack.

Alongside the recently-publicised attack on the US government, there have been several reported attempts to steal vaccine data from Oxford University for example, further proof that we are entering a new age of cyber warfare, where information is the prize and the target. Organisations will need to consider the risks around moving to the cloud and take action to protect against them.

The key question for organisations must be what if the worst happens and how will you respond? You have to ensure that you have a strategy in place behind any move to the cloud, that it works for your business, that you have assessed the risks, and that you have a risk mitigation plan in place in case of an incident.

At a minimum your plan has to cover damage limitation. reputational risk protection, disaster recovery and business continuity. Some considerations for you when drawing up your plans, as highlighted in a recent KPMG white paper, include:

  • Who owns the risks – is it you or the supplier?
  • What are the different judicial regulations of where your data is stored and the rights around this (e.g., US vs EU)?
  • What are the regulatory requirements around reporting incidents?
  • Where does liability sit in case of the exposure of confidential information?

In summary, moving to the cloud has huge benefits and has enabled organisations to adapt to a virtual world more easily. However, to avoid cloud Armageddon, there are important considerations to manage and reduce your risks.

There is never going to be a scenario in which your data is 100% safe in the cloud.

However, by taking the time to assess your options and answer these key questions, you will reduce your exposure and mitigate the risks to ensure this continues to be a scalable solution for business and to maximise the huge benefits that working in the cloud brings.


Are you interested finding out more about moving your organisation to the cloud?

Get in touch to find how we can support you.