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The sum of our parts

by Nora Harris, head of Assurance

One of the aspects of working at i3Works that I’m most proud of is that we work as a consultancy, but operate as a family – and this includes our relationships with clients and partners.

Since 2019, I’ve been consulting in Defence Digital, part of the Ministry of Defence, working with a fantastic group of people with a distinct “one team” ethos. i3Works has more than 20 consultants and partners working across eight business areas supporting the development of the Portfolio Integration Office to deliver maturity gains in project controls.

The members of our team have a wide range of experience. Some have worked in Defence for years, including as members of the Armed Forces. Others are new to Defence but have spent decades bringing P3M maturity improvements to public and private sectors alike. A few are at the beginning of their careers, delivering value to the client as they learn the ropes from longer-serving peers. Everyone has something to contribute, from innovations, to the introduction of best practice, in project controls.

Our “one team” approach means each of us is embedded within the business areas we serve, working collaboratively day in and day out directly with Crown Servants, partners, and other contractors. This helps us build the relationships we need to understand context, suggest the right solutions to problems, and get buy-in from those who might feel a natural resistance to change.

Establishing that trust and confidence in our client and partner colleagues has been vital to our work from the start. To understand the gaps in project controls maturity that Defence Digital needed to address, we first had to design and undertake a set of integrated assurance activities to determine compliance with policy, use of best practice, and culture around controls disciplines. Assurance can be a tricky activity.

While everyone is committed to improvement, project professionals sometimes also view assurance as a criticism of their performance and abilities, and as bureaucracy.

Through open dialogue with our colleagues in Defence Digital, we listened to their issues and concerns and treated the assurance process open-mindedly. We identified maturity gaps not just in the project delivery areas themselves, but also in the policies and guidelines they followed. We also didn’t stop after communicating the assurance findings, either. We made clear, practical recommendations tailored to each business area’s needs and circumstances.

And when Defence Digital decided to enact those recommendations with tiger teams in each business area, they came to i3Works to do it. They trusted us with the task of becoming part of their organisation, understanding its objectives and ways of working, and collaborating with them to enact measurable, smart maturity improvements.

In addition to our close relationship with Defence Digital colleagues, we also build a strong partnership with Hand and Millar Management Consulting. Their people and expertise have been an integral part of success since the start of the work in 2019. They’ve been the glue that has sustained us – especially members of the team like me, who started off with little experience of the Defence environment. i3Works and Hand and Millar have become a partnership that Defence Digital know they can rely on to do the right thing, at the right time, in the best interests of their stakeholders.

Operating as a family, as “one team”, is so important to the way i3Works does business. When our colleagues, clients, and partners feel close to one another, experience trust, and have confidence in each other’s ability to deliver, everyone ends up with the best results. At the end of every day, we can feel pride in what we’ve accomplished together, knowing that those strong bonds achieve more than what any of us could do alone.

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