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Agile governance approach secured executive buy-in

British Council: Governance for global change

IndigoBlue established a new governance approach for the British Council which provided predictability and control, allowing a key programme to enter its next major phase with the full confidence and backing of executive stakeholders.


The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

The challenge

In January 2013, halfway through a five-year programme to improve its digital presence significantly, the British Council engaged IndigoBlue to strengthen its programme management and governance of the digital function.

During the previous two years, the digital function had grown substantially and the organisational structure evolved, including the creation of subsidiary functions. By 2013, the Programme encompassed a diverse portfolio of projects designed to deliver: a new CMS platform based on Drupal; rollout of the British Council corporate site and 110 country sites; strengthened social media, SEO and analytics; and digital thought leadership support to the business.

The scale and complexity of the programme, allied to aggressive timescales, demanded a high-quality project management office (PMO) and governance to ensure stakeholder visibility and cost control. This was further demanded by the challenges of delivering specialist digital support to the organisation.

The requirements were to:

  • Review, recommend and implement improvements to the PMO
  • Ensure a robust benefits case and programme plan with confidence of delivery
  • Enhance governance and reporting to ensure effective and appropriate tracking and feedback
  • Review the digital product strategy and roadmap and recommend enhancements
  • Ensure full stakeholder confidence in the programme

Our approach

IndigoBlue deployed its established process for reviewing and improving PMO capability and Agile management and delivery processes, which has been proven in over 50 organisations over a 12-year period. This approach focuses on the key areas of: strategy and business engagement; management and governance (PMO); organisation; and delivery processes.

During the review, we worked with the British Council to identify enhancements to the strategy in order to support the programme objectives, and employed Impact Mapping as an engagement tool between the programme team, business and stakeholders. The review revealed two areas for improvement: governance and implementation of the Agile approach.

Working with the PMO, IndigoBlue configured the Adapt 2.0 governance framework to encompass the recommendations. This included improvements to planning, forecasting and change management. We then worked within the PMO and with stakeholders to support project teams in the implementation of the framework and the roll-out of the new planning, tracking and reporting approach.

In parallel, we provided coaching within the teams. Typically, the major element of this is the establishment of a suitable plan during start-up. However, given that the digital programme was two years into delivery, we focused this effort instead on the creation of a new baseline for the programme to support improved governance structure.

The outcomes

Working with and within the PMO and Agile teams, IndigoBlue established a new governance approach which provided predictability and control. The programme entered its next major phase with the full confidence and backing of executive stakeholders.

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