One Size Doesn’t Fit All

I joined Govtech as their project manager almost 10 years ago. I had just completed 24 years of service for a large London Local Authority, and that was me done; I planned to put my work in Local Government firmly in the rear-view mirror. However, there was one company I felt compelled to say a personal goodbye to, and that was Govtech. 

In the last few years of my LA employment I had been part of the team that awarded Govtech a contract to support our Housing/CT Benefit Dept. with their eCAPTURE Service and had managed the deployment programme. They were different, as a much smaller company at that time, their four directors were all hands on, providing their individual specialist skills to ensure project success. I can honestly say they had an approach to delivery that was so fresh and committed that it made a huge impression on me. It’s hard to define, but all I can say is that it felt ‘value’ based, as if they were trying to not only deliver an innovative service but an innovative client/contractor relationship, and it worked for me.

Anyway, to cut short the biography, I did reach out, but my intended ‘Thanks and Goodbye’ turned into ‘Hello & Welcome’ and I started a new chapter with the Govtech family.

Building good relationships with your customers sounds like common sense surely, but any of you reading this, with any length of service in local government, will have experienced unsatisfactory contractor relations. Every encounter can feel like it must be monetised, an opportunity to profit. It can also feel that having made what is certainly a massive financial investment to deploy business and customer critical service delivery systems, you are held, to some degree, ‘over a barrel’; The promises of Sales Teams fading into myth.

So, my job, supported by my excellent and expert colleagues, as well as the in-house LA subject matter experts, is to help authorities deploy the Govtech services they’ve contracted for. There has never been a project initiation meeting where I have not explained my approach by saying that one measure of success we’ll revisit in the Post Implementation Review is whether, by Go Live, we can look back and honestly say that the traditional client/contractor mode of relationship was subsumed into a Single Team approach and the project success is evenly attributed to every one working together with shared goals and shared visions.

Govtech’s portfolio of service offerings, whilst expanding, remains quite focused on the Revenues & Benefits service areas, so it could be a reasonable question to ask me if it isn’t a little boring delivering the same services repeatedly. I can tell you honestly that isn’t remotely true. But why?

Well for starters, I believe, really believe, that the foundations of a successful project do not lie in the brilliance of the PID (Project Initiation Document) or the plan, or even the process. They lie in the people. And that’s you, me and our teams. Perhaps someone I’ve worked with is reading this, and I’m making myself a hostage to fortune when I ask what makes the delivery of our services to Plymouth, Aberdeenshire, Leeds, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, Anglesey, Wakefield, etc. so different. It’s a few inter-related things. Firstly it’s the people involved, who they are, what they need, what they expect, what kind of relationship they want to have with you. What the starting relationship is like. Then it’s the organisational culture they work in, which can hugely impact our approach. You hear phrases like ‘In this authority we insist on….’ or ‘The first people we’ll need to get on board are… if they’re supportive then it will go well, if not it will be very uphill.’

It’s become a cliché to say it’s about the people, but it is, or it should be. I struggle with the project/commercial model that says for delivery of this service you’ll need/get X number of project consultancy days included, and your authority must fit into the deployment model dictated by the supplier. That's great for the supplier, easily costed, managed, tracked etc. But no two authorities are the same, because the staff are not the same, the skillsets are not the same, the available resources and competing demands are not the same. Even the project aims can vary. What are the drivers, what are the goals? Reductions in Agency Staff, removal of perennial on-going backlogs, improved service delivery, better customer journeys. It could also be upskilling of staff to focus on higher priority tasks. Govtech are delivering the same services; but you’re choosing your aims, and therefore your success metrics.

At this point, if you’re a current customer or prospective customer, you might well ask yourself: What difference did you/will you make? What are the impacts of your personality, your pressures, your ambitions? How will you influence our work together?

Over the next months we will start to work with several new customers and I’m as excited as I’ve ever been to meet the challenges that every new engagement brings. Learning more from every new implementation, every new relationship. You can be sure that all the essential formal project pre-requisites will be in place, tracked and maintained, but you can also be sure that we will bring all our expertise, flexibility, and experience in order to build with you the single team needed to deliver your objectives. And, without wanting to appear too ingratiating, whilst I have this platform and opportunity, let me thank all the teams I’ve worked with over these 10 years, for helping me learn how to be a better programme manager. I’ve learned a lot from so many of you and laughed a lot along the way. And the same goes for all my Govtech colleagues, who stand beside me and make it all happen, especially Jolanta Karlowska, my team ‘rock’ and Govtech’s Customer Success Manager. I sometimes get the in-house recognition when a new customer goes live, but I stand on many shoulders!

Without doubt the most important thing I’ve learned and am empowered by the company directors to act upon every day is this; one size doesn’t fit all.

Thanks for reading (I think I’ll have to save this for my retirement speech!)








Tim Friery

Programme Manager and Service Engagement Consultant



Forming long-lasting partnerships is key to how we work. Once you've deployed our service, our relationship deepens. We don’t charge you for talking to us and we are never too busy to listen. Because our success is built upon your success, we want to work with you during the whole length of the contract, You are experts and so are we. You can take advantage of all the experience we have gathered whilst working with all our customers across the UK, analysing statistics, good working practice, effective deployments. You'll feel like we're an extension to your team. And if you think that sounds like 'sales speak' we invite you to engage with ANY of our customers, not just a chosen reference site.

So why not get in touch for an informal (and free) consultancy? Get to know us and discover what our automation services can do for you. Our friendly and approachable team will listen intently to your requirements and only recommend the best approach to help automation succeed for your council.