A government agency was starting to transition parts of a large-scale, complex programme of work to business-as-usual (BAU) operations. Programme completion would take several years, but in the meantime, documentation and training was needed to support the various business groups tasked with operating the new technology and new facilities as they went live.
The scale, complexity and long development time of the programme meant that the operating model continued to evolve and systems remained in a state of flux. This made it very challenging for both the external partner and the internal business groups to implement the new functions and develop new processes and procedures in an environment of uncertainty and ongoing change.
A Tactics consultant worked closely with the change manager for the programme, identifying the impacts of changes and also the areas that were still unknown.
An early priority was strengthening buy-in from the external partner and familiarising their staff with the new technology. Although the initial system user guide was soon out of date, it gave staff a good grounding and confidence to adjust to frequent updates. Early consultation and engagement had also prompted a review of other impacted activities and reduced resistance to change.
But the initial expectation of a comprehensive operations manual proved unrealistic. There were simply too many gaps and unknowns. So we reassessed the purpose of the documentation: What people really needed at the time was an explanation of the big picture, their role in it and the touchpoints, dependencies and interrelationships between the various parts. As things settled down, each functional area could go on to develop their own detailed policies, processes and procedures. But first, they needed a map for orientation and guidance and build a shared understanding of the programme.
Similar to how an architect starts with a concept plan, our consultant developed a high-level information architecture (IA) for discussion and feedback. The IA was further refined into a ‘shell structure’ – numbered and labelled hierarchical folders and subfolders, which were partly populated with content and partly empty placeholders. The structure needed to be solid enough to anchor known and stable information, yet flexible enough to deal with growth and change.
A couple of years down the track, the bones of the IA remain unchanged while the shell structure has gradually been filled with content. And just like a house with good bones, it has seamlessly accommodated extensions as the programme continues to expand.