Improving operational efficiency at Plan UK

Operational review for the UK organisation of a global children’s charity

Plan UK has been experiencing a period of significant growth and wanted to review its operational effectiveness and seek the improvements that would support the sustainability of further growth.

Plan is a global children’s charity that has worked for over 75 years with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. With 8,000 staff and a presence in 68 countries across the world, Plan empowers children, families and entire communities to move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity.

Plan UK is one of 20 national organisations that support programmes, raise funds, campaign, and manage sponsorship relationships to fulfil Plan’s work. Over the last 6 years Plan UK has trebled its income and staff numbers have more than doubled.

In 2010 the organisation was restructured and a new tier of management was introduced to maintain the effectiveness of the rapidly growing charity. However the Senior Management Team at Plan UK felt that they could make further improvements. Then feedback from the 2011 employee survey reinforced their view and confirmed that the priority was to improve decision making.

Verve Consulting was appointed by Plan UK to review the decision making processes across the organization, then devise and implement a standard methodology to achieve improved clarity and transparency in decision making.

Angela Beerman, Director of Human Resources explains: “We engaged Verve following a tender process because Verve showed the right balance between the vision and the practical issues. Verve demonstrated a clear grasp of the key needs and we felt confident that Verve would be able to lead the project and deliver solutions within the budget constraints and demanding timescales.”

Working closely with the senior management team and the departmental heads, Verve documented the current situation and identified the main issues as responsibility for decisions, delegation and communication. Through a series of workshops with representatives from all the employee levels, the issues were addressed and the way forward agreed. Verve then developed a top line decision making map, a decision tool covering accountabilities, responsibilities and communication, and an implementation plan.

Director of Human Resources, Angela Beerman continues: “Because this project involved cultural change and the introduction of a new methodology, it has been invaluable having objective input from someone outside the organization.  Verve’s input also ensured the workshops were productive and engendered enthusiasm in the participants. The work Verve has done is making a difference already at the senior levels in the organization and the decision making tool gives us clarity for our plans and business cases.”

Angela recognizes that Plan UK still has work to do in embedding the outputs from the project right across the organization, however she is delighted that the latest employee survey is already showing great improvements in satisfaction scores for the management practices that were in the scope of the Verve project.

Summing up Verve Consulting’s overall contribution, Angela added,”It is great news that we have the improved employee survey results as evidence of the successful outcome of the work Verve has done. I have thoroughly enjoyed Verve’s direct, realistic and enthusiastic approach. Verve’s drive and determination kept us focused and the project on track to meet the deadlines. Verve delivered what they said they were going to deliver.”