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Accelerating progress for YoungDementia UK Homes

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Accelerating progress for YoungDementia UK Homes

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Strategy development for a new dementia charity

Following the appointment of a new chairman, YoungDementia UK Homes wanted to accelerate progress toward the establishment of a care home for people with young onset dementia.

YoungDementia UK Homes is an Oxfordshire-based charity established in 2009, by YoungDementia UK, to focus on the delivery of a residential home offering long-term accommodation and support for people with young onset dementia.

Geoff Shepherd was appointed Chairman of YoungDementia UK Homes in May 2012. Prior to Geoff’s appointment the charity had been exploring various options for developing the home, without much success. Such an undertaking is a complex and ambitious capital project and, without full-time resources, progress had been slow. Geoff recognised that the charity needed to change the way it was working for the project to succeed.

Verve Consulting was appointed by YoungDementia UK Homes to work with the charity on the vision for the Home and on development of the strategy. Chairman, Geoff Shepherd explains: “We engaged Verve, following a recommendation by one of our Trustees, based on Verve’s reputation for strategy development and track record in improving the commercial efficiency of not-for-profit organizations.”

Working closely with Geoff and the Board of Trustees, Verve managed the strategy process, preparing and facilitating a workshop that covered discussion and agreement on the vision for the Home, the action plan that would enable the tight deadlines to be met, and a business case.

Geoff continues: “Verve Consulting’s facilitation of the strategy session, with their action-oriented approach, empathy for the charity’s cause and great sense of humour, meant that all the Trustees felt able to contribute to reviewing progress and agreeing a plan on the way forward. Verve helped us identify the activities that were critical to achieving our aim and then kept us focused on those key action points.”

The charity has made impressive progress since Verve’s involvement and, although Geoff recognizes that he and the Trustees still have much work to do, he is pleased with the results so far: “We have 2 key positive outcomes as a result of the work with Verve. We have appointed a full-time Director with responsibility for delivering the project and, thanks to Verve’s commercial expertise, we have produced an up-to-date business case for the Home.”

Summing up Verve Consulting’s overall contribution, Geoff said, “Working with Verve was a very, very invigorating experience. They have a sound commercial approach and are results oriented, which was a winning combination for us. We would not have made the progress we did without Verve and overall I rate Verve’s involvement a 5-star contribution.”


Ambitious new strategy for YoungDementia UK

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Strategy development for an award-winning dementia charity

Following new government initiatives on the delivery of dementia services and changes within the charity, YoungDementia UK decided to review its mission and develop an ambitious new strategy to ensure the charity continues to be well placed in providing a full range of support services for people with young onset dementia and their families.

YoungDementia UK is an Oxfordshire-based charity providing award-winning services for younger people with dementia. Since 1996 the charity has provided support and services for people with young onset dementia, their families and friends. YoungDementia UK was an Oxfordshire charity of the year finalist in 2011 and won a European Foundation’s Initiative on Dementia (EFID) award in 2012.

YoungDementia UK has built a strong reputation in the field of young onset dementia for the quality of support and services it provides. However, following changes in the chairmanship and Board of Trustees of the charity, and the potential changes in the delivery of dementia services as a result of government initiatives, the Board of Trustees together with Director, Tessa Gutteridge, felt the time was right to review the charity’s future strategy.

Verve Consulting was appointed by YoungDementia UK to work with the charity on the development of the strategy. Director, Tessa Gutteridge explains: “We decided to engage Verve because we wanted someone who was independent of the Board, but who had a proven track record of understanding strategy and the charity sector.”

Working closely with Tessa and the Board of Trustees, Verve managed the strategy process, including setting up and facilitating a workshop that covered the mission, strategic options and development of a new 3 year strategy.

Tessa continues: “Verve Consulting’s involvement meant that we were able to commit quality time to discussion about where we wanted to take the charity in the future. With Verve’s knowledge of the charity sector they were able to challenge our assumptions and help us get clarity into our thinking. And finally, Verve’s experience with strategy work ensured we focused on achievements, rather than the process, to give us a far better outcome.”

Summing up Verve Consulting’s overall role, Tessa added, “Verve’s contribution provided us with a number of benefits, but above all their involvement excited and motivated the trustees about planning and the future. Everyone was bubbling about the workshop afterwards and it’s up to us to keep that going now. It’s a period of significant change in dementia care and we now have a great opportunity to build on our reputation.”


Improving global collaboration

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Strategy implementation for a global telecommunications group

This leading telecommunications group needed a well-defined, global, change management programme to drive improved collaboration across international boundaries and business groups.

The client wanted to improve efficiency and effectiveness through greater collaboration between its subsidiaries around the world. To achieve these aims the client developed and planned to introduce a common global business networking tool.

A major internal change programme was essential in order to achieve these objectives and, after a slow start using internal resources, the Client brought in Verve Consulting to re-establish the implementation of this global change programme. Verve Consulting had previously worked for this client and demonstrated its skill in achieving results in large international programme management, which combined business issues and technology.

Working closely with the selected members of the client’s Board and other key staff, Verve initially developed a plan to deliver the programme on time and within budget. The complex nature of this strategic work demanded an equal measure of experience in large-scale technology projects and sensitivity in managing behavior change with culturally different groups and diverse working methods.

Verve established ownership for delivery of the key work streams in the plan and developed relationships with key stakeholders around the world, and in the global business units, to gain commitment to implement the changes required. As part of this work, Verve coached a new internal programme director to take over the work when the first, key milestones had been achieved.

Verve led the direction of the plan which covered over 30 countries and included the standardization of IT hardware platforms, specifications of user requirements for the applications, engaging the community to develop the content for the first phase roll-out of the system, setting up common user standards, gaining buy-in and traction with key influencers in the user community and homogenizing different company practices around the world.

Verve’s leadership of the programme resulted in a successful outcome for this global telecommunications company. The launch of the tools and global roll out was delivered on time and to budget, with users actively bought in to the new, standardized business networking systems and the company benefitting from a more efficient way of working.


Procurement Strategy saves over £500,000 per annum for Anthony Nolan

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Procurement Strategy Development and Implementation for Anthony Nolan

As part of a new, ambitious five-year strategy, Anthony Nolan reviewed its commercial operations early in 2011 and identified procurement as an area that needed improvement if it were to achieve its goals.

Anthony Nolan is a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives. The charity created the world’s first register of people willing to donate their stem cells, saving lives by matching donors to patients suffering from leukaemia or other blood-related disorders. It now runs the UK’s largest and most successful stem cell register, with over 400,000 potential donors, and set up the UK’s first dedicated facility for cord blood banking and research.

With an external spend of over £6million, in a turnover of around £30million, Anthony Nolan identified the procurement of services and supplies as a potential opportunity to make significant savings that could contribute to its mission of saving lives. Anthony Nolan considered appointing a Procurement Manager but, unsure that the savings could be realised, decided a permanent post could not be afforded.

Verve Consulting had already worked with Anthony Nolan on facilitating the production of the charity’s commercial strategies in 2011 and began talking to Alan How, Finance and Resources Director of Anthony Nolan, about its procurement strategy.

Following proposals from Verve Consulting, and satisfied with Verve’s procurement credentials, Alan appointed Verve for a first phase trial project of up to 3 months: “We know Verve well, trust them and like their outcomes. We decided to engage Verve for a trial procurement project with the assurance that the cost of the project would be covered by savings made, or the charges for the project would be reduced.”

Working closely with Anthony Nolan’s staff, Verve analyzed the procurement processes and examined the procurement spend in great detail. Verve then developed a procurement plan that identified where savings could be made and, perhaps most importantly, confirmed that savings were achievable by undertaking a “quick win” procurement assignment that covered the cost of this first phase trial project.

Achieving the quick win involved Verve in gaining an in-depth understanding of the spend and existing suppliers for the service selected, applying procurement techniques to the buying process, identifying a range of strategic buying options and the competitive position of potential suppliers, then launching a series of request for quotations (RFQ’s). This detailed and methodical process led to a successful outcome for Anthony Nolan with immediate savings made available.

Having identified in the trial that savings were possible and achievable, and with the price of the first phase covered by the quick-win cost savings, Anthony Nolan awarded Verve a six-month strategic consulting project to implement the procurement plan.

In the implementation phase Verve systematically applied procurement techniques to the areas where the greatest possible savings had been identified. This covered a range of services and materials bought by Anthony Nolan including the recruitment of donors, the laboratory analysis of donor samples, specialist clinical couriers and the collection of stem cells from donors.

Verve established relationships with all the key stakeholders responsible for buying the services and materials in the scope of the procurement plan, ran workshops with the in-house teams to pull together a coherent approach to the potential suppliers of each of the services or materials, allocated clear responsibilities for specific suppliers, set up tender processes, and negotiated with suppliers. The implementation of the plan has led to the successful delivery of annual savings of over £500,000.

Alan How, Finance and Resources Director of Anthony Nolan explains, “Verve has delivered an extremely successful project for Anthony Nolan. The result is a large annual cost saving that allows us to expand our services and help Anthony Nolan to achieve our goal of doubling the number of lives to whom we give the chance of life.”

Verve Consulting’s work with Anthony Nolan on the procurement strategy has helped the charity appreciate the importance of sound commercial principles and attention to detail in obtaining maximum value from its supply chain. With those philosophies in place, and proof that savings can be made, Anthony Nolan is now confident in recruiting a Procurement Manager. In this next phase of the development of the procurement strategy, Verve will continue to be involved, both in the recruitment of the Procurement Manager and in the subsequent mentoring of the procurement function.

Summing up Verve Consulting’s overall contribution to the procurement strategy, Alan added, “Verve brings a maturity of approach and a high level of professionalism that has achieved successful outcomes within a contained cost, which is extremely important for a charity like Anthony Nolan.”


Maximizing Commercial Efficiency for Anthony Nolan

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Implementing Commercial Strategies for Anthony Nolan

When Anthony Nolan began transforming its organisation to turn an ambitious five-year strategy into reality, the charity identified the need to maximize its commercial efficiency to meet its challenging goals.

Anthony Nolan is a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives. The charity created the world’s first register of people willing to donate their stem cells, saving lives by matching donors to patients suffering from leukaemia or other blood-related disorders. It now runs the UK’s largest and most successful stem cell register, with over 400,000 potential donors, and has the UK’s first dedicated facility for cord blood banking and research.

Recognizing the need to maximize every penny it earns and everything it spends to ensure it fulfils its mission of saving lives, Anthony Nolan chose Verve Consulting to develop the strategy for maximizing the commercial efficiency of the charity’s key activities, based on previous successful work with the charity by Verve consultants and their proven track record in commercial strategy development.

Working collaboratively with the in-house teams, Verve Consulting initially developed a vision and principles to guide the organization’s commercial activities within the framework of the overall vision and mission of Anthony Nolan.

Verve ran focus groups and opportunity workshops to establish the direction, clear priorities and a commercial plan of action. The work undertaken included market and competitor research, market and customer analysis, pricing and costing strategies, contract negotiation and reviewing procurement processes.

Finally, the foundations were put into place for the successful continuation of the efficiency programmes with the agreement of a governance structure, and the short and long-term plans for the continued delivery of the commercial improvements.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan explains, “Verve’s consultants have helped to galvanize our staff, bringing clarity and focus to our work on contracts and procurement. This has allowed us to make more informed decisions on our income and expenditure, generating money which can be spent more efficiently to help us achieve our goals”

Finally, commenting on Verve Consulting’s overall role, Henny added, “Verve has been key to the successful implementation of the commercial strategies, ensuring we maximize the contribution to our mission of every penny we receive or spend”


Turning Strategy into Reality for Anthony Nolan

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Strategy Development and Organizational Effectiveness for Anthony Nolan

Faced with an increasingly competitive market, changing customer requirements and a burning desire to achieve its challenging goals, Anthony Nolan recognized the need for a transformation to turn its ambitious five-year strategy into reality.

Anthony Nolan is a very successful charity whose mission is saving lives. The charity created the world’s first register of people willing to donate their stem cells, saving lives by matching donors to patients suffering from leukaemia or other blood-related disorders. It now runs the UK’s largest and most successful stem cell register, with over 400,000 potential donors, and has the UK’s first dedicated facility for cord blood banking and research.

In 2010, to achieve its challenging goals and save even more lives, Anthony Nolan embarked on strengthening the organization. Verve Consulting was selected to work on the transformation project for the laboratory, because Verve has a proven track record in strategy development and implementation with a deep knowledge of the not-for-profit sector. Equally importantly, Verve demonstrated an understanding of the sensitivities required to work within that environment and relevant scientific expertise.

Working collaboratively with the in-house teams, Verve Consulting began by conducting a review and analysis of the situation with staff, senior management, trustees and customers. Verve then facilitated senior management workshops to evaluate the strategic options arising from the analysis and agree the way forward for the laboratory.

Verve led the production of the business case for the investment required to allow the laboratory to pursue the chosen strategy. As a result of the business case the charity decided to make significant investments in the laboratory, improve the processes to maximize efficiency and reorganize to meet the new challenges.

In the ensuing design phase, Verve worked with Anthony Nolan’s teams to manage the detailed implementation of the strategy. Verve led three work streams covering the new investment in equipment, the design of the new organization and efficiency improvements from contracts and procurement.

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan explains, “Verve’s consultants have made a phenomenal achievement in the time available. Verve established trust with the staff and led a transformational project for the organisation. Verve did a brilliant job. They never let you off the hook, with great determination to keep the project on track.”

Finally, commenting on Verve Consulting’s overall contribution, Henny added, “Working with Verve made a huge difference to our ability to deliver the strategy successfully, helping us to save more lives by halving turnaround times. Because for Anthony Nolan time is of the essence.”


Strategy under uncertainty

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Strategy development for a UK technology company

Even very successful companies can become paralysed by the complexity of a changing market place, and plotting a strategy can feel like heading into thick fog, no visibility and no landmarks.  By using uncertainty about the environment as one of the metrics for characterising it a company can produce a map of the market based on uncertainty and can take a view as to how best to respond if certain things happen.  With this kind of planning ahead it’s possible to set out on an ambitious journey undaunted by the fog of uncertainty.  This is the story of one company who are now well along their chosen road…

This fast growing British company with a strong technology heritage had reached a critical point in their development as the founders departed and professional managers took the helm.  The company had conflicting internal views about the maturity of their niche market and about the overall technology adoption pattern in the wider market.

We carried out a strategy process which engaged customers, competitors, managers and staff in developing a view of the opportunities and uncertainties in this fast moving market.  Then we helped them to lay out an ambitious map based on the most likely future trends.

The result was a five year plan and a business case which managers and investors used as a basis for a successful public share offering.  The company continues to deliver 25-30% year on year growth while it diversifies out of it’s niche to provide a full technology service to customers.

We had many of the pieces but we couldn’t put the puzzle together, now the picture is clear and the organization is really energized.” CEO

We have learned to continually scan the environment and adapt to shifting opportunities and threats but we don’t loose momentum…” CFO


Climbing the growth curve

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Marketing strategy for a fast growing biotechnology company

Young companies or novel products often have growth projections which look like a hockey stick – slow start and then geometric growth, but they struggle to reach the elusive take off point.  Part of the secret is moving from selling to other like-minded enthusiasts to finding a true niche market where your product satisfies most or all of the needs.  Once established in that niche a company can start to build a more mainstream presence.  This is the story of one company who had exactly that experience…

This transatlantic company has been around for about 8 years, they had an interesting product in the competitive and innovative field of genomic research, but unfortunately had struggled to achieve real growth.

We visited Universities, Hospitals, and Laboratories and interviewed researchers at the leading edge of genetic medicine.  Interestingly those who were most enthusiastic about the product were those who were using it for clinical research close to the patient.  The technique offered a ‘gold standard’ in terms of quality of data on a result by result basis, which obviously appealed to clinical researchers who can see the potential for life critical decisions based on a single test.

We advised the company to re-direct their sales messages and marketing effort at this clinical niche, where they had a complete and compelling offer.  This moved them away from the larger but more competitive market for basic genetic research which relies on accumulating large databases and uses statistical methods, and where cost per test is the main driver of buying decisions.  As a result of this refocus they are now one of the fastest growing in their biotech sector.

“We got everyone together and listened to the findings and the conclusions, the recommendations were so compelling that we walked out of that room and started doing it…” CEO


Unlocking customer truth

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Product strategy for a young technology company

You spend a lot of time talking to your customers.  Of course you do.  But if you analyse those conversations they fall into one of a few common categories “selling”, “telling” or “fixing”.  It’s rare to have an open conversation with a customer about the market and about the future.  It’s rarer still to openly ask your customers for help in developing your product or your company strategy.  If you do ask customers it’s amazing what they will tell you.

This is the story of one company that did just that…

A young Swedish company had built an exciting breakthrough product which used microwave technology to do in 10 seconds what could take 10 hours.

The company wondered why the product wasn’t more successful – and so did we!

We interviewed the working scientists who used this device and who were universally enthusiastic about it, based on the interviews we mapped their buying behaviours and ways of working.  They told us very clearly that what they needed was a personal instrument in their workspace, with a target price within their individual budget.

After a radical redesign the re-launched product has gone from strength to strength on laboratory benches across the world.

“It’s like having twenty customers in the room as we develop our strategy” CEO


Maximising business potential

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Strategy development for an international telecommunications group

To maximise new opportunities for next-generation technology, this leading telecommunications group needs to move fast to develop its international strategy and assess business potential.

A potential application for a new technology was being worked on independently in several different countries. Corporate management, however, wanted to combine these into a single strategic project and rapidly identify the total business potential for the group. The result was a complex project, which took place in several phases, all for completion against tight deadlines. They involved senior commercial and technology teams in each country, with group management and third parties. Verve audited existing national projects and then unified these into a single proposition for presentation to the group CEO.

In the next stage, Verve led operational management of country projects to ensure consistency with the Group’s strategic goals. This culminated in a forum which allowed the group’s senior team and their external partners to debate the opportunity, make their decisions on the business potential and agree the way forward.

The telecommunication group’s Head of R&D explains, “The job required a rare resource – experienced, senior, large-scale project management skills. Verve was ideally suited for what we needed. As well as bringing the operational project management skills, they skillfully managed the different cultures to draw great clarity of thought from our people, which helped ensure a successful outcome.”