Creating a new organization

Programme Management for The Office for Legal Complaints

When The Office for Legal Complaints was established to set up an impartial Ombudsman service by the second half of 2010, the new CEO & Chief Ombudsman, Adam Sampson, was faced with all the challenges of starting up a new business.

With aggressive deadlines to meet, and an organization of 350 people to get up and running to deliver their statutory function, the newly-appointed Chief Ombudsman has had to move very quickly. With no permanent staff in place, his first step was to engage advisors to help with the design, planning and implementation of the Ombudsman service.

The nature of the OLC’s requirements called for a supplier who not only excelled at programme management and delivery, but who also understood the cultural sensitivities of creating a new organization of this complexity.

The OLC retained Verve Consulting following an open market tender run through government procurement processes. Adam Sampson, CEO and Chief Ombudsman of the OLC explains, “Verve Consulting stand out as consultants who are adept with the cultural aspects of creating a new organization and who can be relied on to roll up their sleeves and go beyond the project plans and charts to get the job done.”

The Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) has been established by the Legal Services Act 2007 to set up an independent and impartial Ombudsman service for consumers of legal services who have complaints against their legal services’ provider.

The overall aim of the OLC is to establish an Ombudsman service, which is independent in its decision making, effective, modern, responsive and efficient. It will remove the current uncertainty amongst consumers as to where, or to whom, they should address their complaint by creating a single gateway for these complaints. The Ombudsman will be empowered to deal with all consumer complaints about legal services that cannot be resolved directly with the Law firm concerned.

The OLC is accountable to Parliament through the Lord Chancellor and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. The OLC will begin to resolve complaints in the second half of 2010.

Verve worked initially with the Chief Ombudsman on designing the key operational and organizational elements of the new entity and gaining approval with the key stakeholders. The focus then shifted to implementation planning for all aspects of creating an organization – premises, infrastructure, systems, processes and people – and finally, most critically, on the implementation of the plans against challenging targets and deadlines.

Verve’s role in implementing the plans has been to lead the Programme Office, which has directed all the work streams involved in creating the organization. This has involved owning the business process, overseeing procurement and the induction of new staff, being the guardian of the culture, dealing with the OLC’s stakeholders, presenting to the OLC board on progress, managing risk and not least, managing change. In short, everything needed to get an organization up and running.

Inevitably, as when starting any business, some plans have needed to change, requiring a flexible approach and skilled change management to ensure the programme remains on schedule to deliver the vision.

Commenting on what has been achieved, the Chief Ombudsman said, “Verve has done exceptionally well in handling change and keeping the OLC on schedule to deliver the Ombudsman service successfully.”

Finally, remarking on Verve Consulting’s overall contribution, Adam added, “Verve’s people have delivered on their promises and in some cases have gone considerably further than they promised. Verve were employed to deliver and go the extra mile – and that’s exactly what they have done.”