Recently our Delivery Assurance team won the APM award for their fantastic achievements in project management, the award they won for their contributions to project management recognised the positive impact the project had on the wider community in Essex, along with the effect it had on Essex County Council as an organisation.
Head of Delivery Assurance, Tony Wisken, offered us some insight into the function of his team, and the exemplary services they provided in order to win such a prestigious award.
Congratulations on your award win, please tell us more about it.
The Association for Project Management (APM) is the only chartered body for the project profession. We are corporate members, with much of our approach and training aligning to their philosophies and competency framework. We’ve been rightly proud our of contribution to the change agenda at ECC, particularly during the height of the pandemic, where our people, tools and methodologies were put to great use supporting efforts of behalf of the citizens of Essex, and other partners organisations.
As a support or “back office” function, sometimes we can be guilty of “hiding our light under a bushel”. We felt it was time to shout a little louder about our accomplishments and the APM awards felt the right place to do this. The Awards showcase the very best individuals, projects and programmes that the profession has to offer, and recognises the incredible contribution of project, programme and portfolio professionals from around the world.
Judges were looking for organisations who commit to positive and meaningful progression of the project profession and who evidence delivery of excellence in project management practice.
The judges in reaching their verdict of ECC as the winners in the “Contribution to Project Management: Not-for-Profit” category, noted: ““This was a great entry, with fantastic project management principals. Despite the incredibly difficult operating context during the pandemic, there was a clear drive and commitment for continuous improvement. “
“The team showed compelling evidence of the positive impact they’re making on both Essex County Council and the wider community”.
Tell us a bit about your team/the project management service – who you are and what you do?
Delivery and Assurance, as part of the wider TDS (Transformation Delivery & Support) function, is what we consider to be the “centre of excellence” for Project, Programme and Portfolio Management at ECC; it comprises of some eighty, rising to 120 at the peak of the pandemic, project delivery professionals. A small section of the function is set aside for Delivery Assurance, who help develop standards, tools and techniques, and provides support / guidance for the wider team and organisation, particularly for the more challenging work.
We have a continuous improvement mindset, so are always happy to learn from others as well as share what has worked for us. The pandemic brought together organisations that traditionally had been siloed in their approach and I believe one of the key learnings is that we have more in common than perhaps we appreciated and could benefit from closer working in the future.
What do you think is the secret to your team’s success?
It’s all about the people. We have a great team that is very supportive of each other, delivery focussed and with an appetite to learn; and this doesn’t happen by chance – Of course we look for excellent technical skills when hiring, but we are equally focussed on the right attitude and fit.
We welcome and promote diversity of thinking. We saw, particularly during the pandemic, when we hired some forty new people, that we welcomed project professionals from all sorts of industries / backgrounds. This has enhanced our capabilities, bringing new and different ideas into the mix. Alongside this, we actively plan our development and training in response to feedback, within and without the function. We deliver a comprehensive development / training regime, leveraging internally developed material, commercial trainers and the plethora of freely available materials on the web.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Having worked in change related roles for over thirty years, I have been part of, or led numerous business and IT related initiatives. Being able to share my experience in my role as the Head of Delivery Assurance is very rewarding. This can range from guiding a junior member staff taking their first steps in Project Management or advising our Senior Leadership on the outlook, trends and response to the ever-challenging appetite for change across ECC.
Every day is different, with new challenges emerging all the time. Finding solutions or strategies in response to these challenges, leveraging my team with their diverse backgrounds and my own experiences keeps us on our toes, but gives a great sense of achievement to know your efforts are guiding people in the right direction.
What advice would you give to someone considering ECC as a future employer?
ECC is a large organisation with over 7500 employees across many diverse roles. For someone new, particularly to Local Government, it can feel complex. However, from my own experience I have found a level of collaboration and support that I have rarely seen elsewhere. I would also say be ready to learn. With the diversity of roles and new / challenging demands that constantly emerge, there is always something new to get to grips with.
Local Government isn’t as scary or parochial as some people might think. Yes, like any large organisation it has its challenges, however what I see every day is people trying to do good things for the people of Essex.
We provide an abundance of incredible opportunities for a broad range of individuals, spanning across a great range of fields and industries, who all work together to make Essex a better, cleaner, safer county to live in and visit.
Find great opportunities and colleagues through our wide range of employment schemes. You can find these here.
Equally, signing up to The Essex Talent Community is a fantastic way of searching for roles suited to you and your needs and receiving notifications!