Celebrating Mid Year at Certus3

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Certus3 hosted its inaugural Mid Year Event on Thursday, 8 August at Crown Street’s Winery.

The event was celebrated by the current Certus3 team all of whom enjoyed a fabulous feast and some lively conversation.

Enjoy the Mid Year Event slideshow

Introducing the latest addition to the Team, Amanda Crawford.


Amanda Crawford is a Change Manager, and she has just joined the Certus3 Business Transition team. We had a chat to Amanda to find out how she’s finding life at Certus3 so far.

What attracted you to working at Certus3?

As a Change Manager, I’m particularly interested in the people aspects of business change. What I love about the Certus3 approach is that they look at the whole business: the systems and processes, the technology, and the people and culture, all at once. All the streams are interwoven in a Certus3 project, so the people aspects are taken into consideration at every stage of the process changes, the process changes at every stage of the technology changes, etc. This kind of cross-stream integration means there is a high level of communication, so the whole project moves along efficiently.

How are you finding it so far?

I’ve stepped straight into an IT project in financial services and am loving it. The stream leads have built a solid framework and all the pieces are falling into place as we approach our go-live date. My colleagues and I in the Business Transition team are currently working with the technical and infrastructure teams to translate the system changes into reference material and training programs for end users so they will be ready to launch into the new app from day one. With eight weeks until go-live, there’s a great momentum building.

What do you enjoy most about this kind of work?

The people. There are so many different people and skill sets involved in a project, from the systems architects who nut out the technical solutions, to the Business Transition team who focus on the people aspects. Project work is very satisfying; I love watching a business idea turn into a fully implemented system, and seeing the improvements for end users.

What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months at Certus3?

There are some great projects in the pipeline at Certus3 and I’m looking forward to being involved with the next one from the beginning. Every project is like a giant puzzle, and it’s very satisfying to work with a great team to put all the pieces together. I’m also looking forward to the Christmas party; there’s nothing like celebrating with your team!

Certus3 partners with businesses in the management of large-scale and complex programs of work. Their holistic approach means every potential impact of a business change is taken into consideration, maximising the likelihood of success. To find out how Certus3 can improve your business outcomes, contact the team today on +61 (2) 9238 2131.


The Importance of ITIL Frameworks for Major IT Infrastructure Changes


From March each year through to the end of the financial year, we typically see an increase in the number of calls from CEOs and Executive teams as they move through their annual strategic planning processes. We love these conversations: it’s great to hear how so many different organisations have been progressing over the year, and to learn about their plans for the next one.

With information technology underpinning so many of our business processes these days, it’s not surprising that many of these plans involve major IT infrastructure changes. But establishing highly trained IT teams is only half the equation: we have seen time and time again how important it is to closely integrate IT infrastructure changes with business strategy changes so that your organisation’s overall performance improves.

If IT system changes aren’t closely integrated with a business’s strategic and operational plans, quality will slip and costs will go up, neither of which any business wants.

Over the years, we’ve partnered with all kinds of organisations that are accredited with best practice IT support frameworks such as ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library framework created by the British government in the late-1980s to increase the quality of government IT services while managing the overall costs of delivering those services.

If your organisation is a practitioner of ITIL, you’ll know just how much impact introducing best practice IT approaches such as accountability, consistency and clear boundaries can have on the bottom line. When processes are standardised and staff know what they are accountable for, the quality of service improves, customer satisfaction increases, and repeat business and referrals go up.

All of which is great for business! But as we also know, introducing any kind of change, even if it is a best practice approach, requires careful planning and transitioning so it is accepted across the organisation.

Which is where we come in: we help integrate the work of organisations’ IT experts on the information architecture into the Executive team’s vision for the enterprise architecture. We make sure organisations are structured so that their best practices approaches are dynamic, and can change when the business environment changes; because as Michael Scarborough says in his White Paper on ITIL, even if you’re not thinking this way, you can be sure some of your competitors are.[i]

Of course the creation of the right structure is only one half of the ITIL equation – as with every major transformative change the ability of the organisation to adapt to the new structure is the defining factor of implementation success. In order to gain the maximum acceptance of the benefits a fair bit of effort needs to be focused on preparing the organisation’s people.

Certus3’s Business Transition Team has worked with many clients to make the transition from current to future state as smooth as possible – Mel Young, our Business Transition Practice Lead, never ceases to emphasise the importance of defining and articulating the changes to the individuals impacted by the introduction of an ITIL framework. Not only does ITIL introduce new IT support processes but it brings with it newly defined roles and responsibilities for individuals – which require a fair bit of getting used to.

So if your organisation is accredited with ITIL or a similar IT best practice framework, contact us at Certus3 today and find out how we can help you successfully prepare your people and integrate your IT infrastructure changes into your business so you can stay ahead of the pack: +61 2 9238 2131, www.certus3.com.


[i] Scarborough, Michael, ‘Why ITIL is important’, http://www.globalknowledge.ie/content/files/documents/white-papers/itil/WP_IL_Why_ITIL_Is_Important.pdf, accessed 14 June 2016.



Executive Sponsor engagement – the key to program success


An actively engaged Executive Sponsor is the key to program success, so why are more and more programs going without this essential senior-level advocate? Recent research by the Boston Consulting Group and the Project Management Institute indicates that fewer than two thirds of programs have assigned Executive Sponsors, resulting in significant losses for organisations globally.

It’s not all bad news however. There are simple solutions to arrest this trend and to boost the effectiveness of this central role.

Limiting factors for Executive Sponsors include:

  • an organisational culture that leads to the overextension of Executive Sponsors;
  • ineffective and inaccurate communication; and
  • lack of professional development of Executive Sponsors (1)

FACTOR 1 – Overextension

We all struggle with multi-tasking and have experienced the pain associated with missing appointments or losing sleep when attempting to spread oneself too thin. The same can be said for Executive Sponsors who, in attempting to be across it all, end up missing important details impacting the very initiative they are responsible for delivering.

According to the research Executive Sponsors report that on average they work on three programs at a time, spending an average of 13 hours per week on each program they sponsor in addition to their regular jobs. (2)

Solution: Eliminate the over-assignment of sponsorship responsibility.

FACTOR 2 – Ineffective and inaccurate communication

Ineffective and inaccurate communication is the second most impactful factor limiting the ability of Executive Sponsors to carry out their roles effectively. From US$1 billion approximately US$75 million is wasted due to ineffective and inaccurate communications. (3)

Effective and correct communication above and below the Executive Sponsor is vital. Information when conducted via the Executive Sponsor is used as means of influence in the alignment of stakeholders, as a means to confirm leadership (knowledge is power) and is used as a platform for organisational decision-making.

Conversely, communication that is provided to the Executive Sponsor from the program via the program manager is also crucially important. This information usually takes the form of regular progress status reports calibrated to the appropriate level of detail for the Executive Sponsor.

Practices like regular updates against clear forward-looking milestones tied either to KPIs (describing lead indicators of known risks) or to operational or economic impacts provide genuinely useful insight and help Executive Sponsors to be actively engaged but not overburdened. (4)

This logical approach to the design and delivery of program status reporting is more often than not lacking, with already overstretched Executive Sponsors commonly overburdened with unstructured, detail-heavy content.

Inaccurate status reporting provides yet another more overt cause for Executive Sponsor concern. This is particularly apparent when faced with a program whose status has suddenly shifted from green to red with little or no warning.

Such a predicament can and should be avoided. Certus3’s Insights360 tool provides Executive Sponsors, and other senior leaders, with a low impact, cost-effective means through which the ‘true’ status of a project can be quickly understood. The tool not only provides a platform for reporting but more importantly is able to identify key problem or success areas – just in case an adjustment is required.

Solution: support should be provided to the Executive Sponsor through the provision of clear, accurate and brief program status reporting; and

the Executive Sponsor should have access to an independent reporting tool which can be used periodically to check the ‘true’ program status against the reported status.

FACTOR 3 – Development of Executive Sponsor skills

Most Executive Sponsors are not program professionals and therefore need specialist support and guidance when charged with the responsibility of large-scale transformation programs.

Although on-the-job training is the most common way for Executive Sponsors to acquire knowledge and skills, better project outcomes are achieved when organisations invest in the professional development of their Executive Sponsors.

Solution: Create and offer formal Executive Sponsor development programs, which include access to mentoring from experienced Executive Sponsors.

According to the research as much as US$109 million is wasted for every US$1 billion spent on programs due to ineffective Executive Sponsorship. By eliminating or reducing the factors that limit Executive Sponsor performance this waste can be prevented.

(1-4)  PMI Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report – Executive Sponsor Engagement, accessed via http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Knowledge%20Center/PMI-Pulse-Executive-Sponsor-Engagement.ashx on 24.05.16



Designing the Organisation


Remember that old maxim, the only constant is change?

With the speed of global business increasing, leaders are constantly faced with change. Some of this change is driven by external factors – like competitors’ activities or new technologies – while other changes are internally driven, like when a new leader is tasked with turning around an underperforming company. Change comes at us from all sides, and requires come clever organisational design to be successfully managed.

But what is organisational design? And why is it so important?

Organisational design involves breaking an organisation down into its operational parts, then connecting those parts together to achieve the goals set out in the business strategy. It is important because it ensures that an organisation works well and is profitable.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet over the years we have seen so many leaders struggle with redesigning their organisations to successfully navigate the changing business environment. Their businesses lose ground to whatever forces are working upon them and they are unable to achieve the results they expect. Leaders today cannot afford to do this.

In our experience studying and working with businesses of all sizes, there is a handful of organisational design principles that mean the difference between success and failure when navigating change. We have found the work of Gary Neilson, Jaime Estupiñán and Bhushan Sethi particularly useful in this area, and have distilled some of their key principles for you here.[i]

  1. “Declare amnesty for the past”: While it is crucial to start any process of organisational design with corporate self-reflection, getting stuck going over and over the old system does nothing to progress the situation. Instead, as Neilson and his colleagues suggest, declare an amnesty for the past and explicitly agree that you won’t try to defend or blame the design currently in place, but simply move on.
  2. “Fix the structure last, not first”: It’s tempting to short cut the organisational redesign process by simply rewriting your org chart, but this kind of ‘change’ is not really change at all. We know that if companies start by looking at the areas they need to improve and figuring out how to make them better, then the right organisational design often emerges during the process. So work out what you need to improve to reach your business goals and how you will go about it, then draw your org chart around that.
  3. Think about the people you need and want: Just like an org chart might work in theory but not in practice, an organisational design created for theoretical people won’t work either. As Neilson and his colleagues suggest, leverage the talent you have and want to retain and define the types and personalities of the people you’re seeking to recruit and design positions around them.
  4. Promote accountability: Research has shown that the strongest factors for improving the execution of an organisation’s business strategy are information flow and decision rights; in fact, Neilson and his colleagues found that these factors were twice as powerful as, for example, an organisation’s structure or motivators. We know that if information flows freely through an organisation and people are empowered to make decisions, their accountability increases and their performance improves. Make sure you consider these in your new organisational design.

The key to great organisational design is making sure your organisation fits your strategy, so your business is the right shape to achieve your goals. Certus3 is currently working with businesses of all sizes to create exceptional organisational designs that get results. To discuss the opportunity of utilising our experience to create the best design for your business, contact Certus3.

[i] Gary Neilson, Jaime Estupiñán and Bhushan Sethi, ‘10 Principles of Organization Design’, Business+Strategy, http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00318?gko=c7329, accessed 29 April 2016.


The Agony of Finding Virtue in Organisations


Dear Agony Aunt,

I lead a highly profitable multi-national software company that plots maps for use in personal GPS devices. We navigate the world well, but our organisation lacks a moral compass. What’s your advice?


Dear Anonymous,

If only leaders could punch “Shangri-La” into a Navman then the corporate world would be a more virtuous place! Engage with your people and agree on non-financial measures to expand your profitability model – for instance consider the net environmental and social impacts of your work – then see your organisation soar. Or plot the definitive route to weight loss and become instantly virtuous globally.

Agony Aunt.

The Value of Virtue in Business


One of the organisational theories gathering momentum at the moment is the concept of virtue and what it means for the success of an organisation.

As companies around the world become richer there is increasing pressure on leadership teams to not only do well, but to do the right thing well, whether that means providing nutrition programs for employees and their families or ensuring corners aren’t cut in safety checks. Transforming your business to a ‘virtuous’ model can have significant and long-term benefits, resulting in engaged employees and satisfied clients.

To help business leaders better understand the opportunities available, we have outlined the fundamentals of virtuous organisations below.

What is a virtuous organisation?

While there are several definitions of what constitutes a virtuous organisation, each has the same fundamental core: a virtuous organisation is one with a strong moral compass upon which it creates value for customers, employees, shareholders and the community.

Virtuous organisations are not concerned with chasing quarterly earnings that may have dangerous consequences for employees and the local community and environment; they put virtue at the core of their business to give them the edge in the broader marketplace.

What characteristics do virtuous organisations share?

Virtuous organisations come in different shapes, sizes and markets, but they all share the following key characteristics:

  • Concern for employees’ wellbeing
  • A long-term view, planning from generation to generation, not quarter to quarter
  • A sense of responsibility and a strong desire to give back, especially to the communities within which they exist because those communities have played a part in creating their wealth
  • A clear desire for social as well as financial betterment.

Who makes an organisation virtuous?

Everyone in an organisation is responsible for making it virtuous, but virtue must start with and be championed by the organisation’s leader: it is the leader’s values and vision that define and shape the organisation’s culture. If the leader’s values include compassion, a sense of responsibility, and caring commitment, then the company’s will too.

According to Frank Islam and Ed Crego,[i] the leaders of virtuous organisations fulfil three critical roles:

  • Navigator, guiding the business to do the right things and bring qualities like compassion and integrity into the organisation’s culture and operations.
  • Capital creator, thinking beyond the financial capital to the intellectual and spiritual capital, creating results that exceed the total brain power of the individuals in the organisation, and encouraging a motivational force that makes everyone want to do their best.
  • Value generator, creating ‘value circles’ that emanate out from them, through all levels of the organisation, and ultimately to customers and the community.

How does mindfulness work in virtuous organisations?

Mindfulness involves concentration, focus and harnessed energy, so in an organisational context, the spiritually mindful person is aware and discerning, able to identify issues clearly while also seeing the bigger picture, and acts virtuously, all of which are crucial capabilities for an organisation undergoing growth or change.

The bottom line is, how we treat each other, our customers and our surroundings, affects how well our businesses do. We know that companies benefit by considering what it means to be virtuous, because to succeed today we must do the right thing, and do it well.

Certus3 is currently working with virtuous organisations to develop sustainable operating models, which put virtuous concepts front and centre. To discuss the opportunity of utilising our experience to explore the development of a virtuous operating model for your business, contact Certus3.



[i] Islam, F and E Crego, ‘The Need to Build Virtuous Organizations,’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-islam/the-need-to-build-virtuou_b_4460396.html, accessed 6 April 2016.

The Agony of Making a New Year’s Resolution


Dear Agony Aunt,

Last January my New Year resolution was to start smoking but one day in I gave up. I need to set myself a challenging goal for 2016. Have you got any advice?


Dear Anonymous,

This year I resolved to connect with my inner self and encourage everyone around me to express their feelings about me openly. I soon despaired at the flow of wildly inaccurate and libellous character assessments so, like you, quickly aborted my resolution. Keep it simple but achievable. In 2016 I’m resolving to actually finish an entire chap-stick.

Agony Aunt.

Resolve to Kick-Start Your New Year


A lethargic start to the New Year is a sure-fire way to put your project on the back foot when the team returns from the festive season.

High-velocity progress is the new normal for programs of work, so consider these 5 steps to set up your 2016 for success.

  1. Resolve to communicate with positive intent. Move early on your return to gather your team and refresh the collective understanding of short and medium term deliverables and to prepare solutions to the blockers that tired teams invariably hold over for New Year resolution.
  2. Re-connect with stakeholders. The New Year often entails getting to grips with year-end BAU organisational re-design and the consequent permanent departure of long serving and newly redundant BAU staff. Take time to re-connect with your business stakeholders and re-affirm shared commitment to your project objectives
  3. Manage expectations. Be clear with yourself and your sponsors about what your team is to achieve in the near term and that assumptions made earlier remain true. The chance for objective reflection that Christmas leave provides can often alter previously strongly held beliefs.
  4. Celebrate success. Recognise your team’s 2015 achievements and highlight the positive behaviours that contributed to those great outcomes. Avoid the trap of repeating mistakes made in the past when a slight chance in course can save recidivist practices.
  5. Achieve a quick win. Nominate a task that has a high likelihood of success early in the New Year to quickly restore motivation and instil confidence in the year ahead.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to accomplish these steps with grace, goodwill and cheer and you’ll make a fantastic transition from the festive season back into your program of work.




Certus3’s Christmas Soiree 2015

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Certus3 was pleased to host a Christmas Soiree on Tuesday, 8 December 2015 at Centennial Park Dining’s Wine Room.

Imbued with the requisite amount of Christmas cheer, our guests enjoyed a three course Christmas-inspired meal whilst being entertained by our fabulous band – Watson, James & Gale, & our two comedians – Rodney Marks & Ryan Crawford.

Special thanks goes to:

  • Virginie Rutgers at Merveille Event Planning – for styling the event
  • Rodney Marks – for his inspired comedy set – Linked In: Comedian at Corporate Comedy
  • Ryan Crawford – for his equally inspired humour – Twitter:  @RyanTheCrawford
  • Helen, Bob & Col (AKA Watson, James & Gale) – for their wonderful music
  • Cathy Morrison – for photographing the event
  • Alisha Yee from Centennial Park Dining
  • Sotiri from Squeeze Creative – for developing our Christmas Party Slideshow

Enjoy our Christmas Party slideshow.