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Tackling the bane of modern management

In a world where people increasingly work part time and come and go as contractors or secondees, keeping track of who works where, for whom and what access to company files they have, is critical. The process of keeping these records accurate and secure is more complicated and bureaucratic than expected.

"The problem we consistently find isn’t an absence of data, but an absence of the correct tools and insight to unlock value from the data that is abundantly available."

This sizeable challenge is one that at Oaklin we are increasingly helping our clients with. By any measure it is not at the ‘glamourous’ end of consulting assignments, which is perhaps part of the problem. The question of how to create a good ‘joiners, movers and leavers’ process and system architecture is rarely one that organisations prioritise for investment, yet we find that it is at the heart of many management problems in medium and large organisations. ‘JML’ as the industry refers to it, is a complex web of process and system steps that often spread across multiple systems which are frequently poorly documented and rarely well communicated. At best it can make the process of bringing on a contractor or arranging a maternity secondment slow and difficult to organise. At worst, it can leave even relatively modest-sized organisations pondering how many people they employ.

Most recently, Oaklin was engaged via the Digital Outcomes & Specialists framework (DOS4) to help a large government department tackle some of these challenges head on. At such scale it was a  daunting task at first, but drawing on best practice from other clients and our own creative thinking, we came up with a set of simple changes that helped our large government client tackle this bane of modern management.

Here are a few ways we went about doing it.

Striking gold with your organisation’s data

Lots of people means lots of data. Data is infrequently, if at all, made use of when looking at JML, yet it is a goldmine that can help your organisation understand how and where people are moving and what access to systems they retain. The problem we consistently find isn’t an absence of data, but an absence of the correct tools and insight to unlock value from the data that is abundantly available.

In our last assignment, Oaklin’s data science team created a simple analytics tool that matched system IDs with people records, to identify and remove unused and dormant accounts. By running the data science tool across multiple data sets, we were able to understand where individuals had access to data that they should no longer have and take action.

Oaklin’s data science team also incorporated HR systems data. This was a first for the government department and provided additional insight and security benefits to the business. Oaklin tested the process, documented it and provided a full hand back with post live support to the client colleagues. 

Digging for diamonds

The scale and complexity of JML processes in large and federated organisations often makes them difficult for line managers to follow. With hundreds of active and legacy policy documents filed in various folders for internal moves, secondments, loans, resignations or retirements, it can be hard to dig out the one that’s relevant to you.

We have long found that line managers benefit from a centralised, simple, and visual point of contact for JML policies. For our government department, this meant gathering and simplifying a large stock of legacy JML documents, turning them into a simple, visual, and user focused ‘JML Toolkit’. It was the first time line managers had been able to reach all the information they needed in a ‘one stop shop’ which walked them through the actions they needed to take and provided guidance to where other detail was required. This transformed the ability of line managers to navigate a large number of JML processes quickly and easily.

"A project will only meet its objectives in full if it creates the desire among colleagues to embrace and use the change."

Taming complexity

Whatever JML content you have, be it policies, guidance, or comms, it must be stored somewhere.  Invariably, that means an intranet and, let’s be honest, who enjoys an intranet? How many organisations even have a good intranet?

Unless yours is one of the exceptions, intranet content is often confusing and poorly laid out. It may be stating the obvious, but the more clicks a user has to make to get to that JML doc or guide, the less likely anyone will find it and the more JML issues you will have.

A simple but powerful action is to assess and re-imagine. Put yourself in a user’s shoes and try to use your own organisation’s intranet. If you can’t find JML guidance within three clicks, then you need to take action. At our government department, Oaklin introduced a ‘Joining, Moving, Leaving’ tab on the intranet home page to allow direct access to all the JML guidance in a single click.

We also redesigned the pages, maximising the space on the pages, simplifying the layout, and providing a fresh, user-friendly experience to find the correct JML guidance. Taking action on changes like this will increase confidence and understanding of organisational processes, and in turn improve the compliance of end users to complete processes correctly.

Winning hearts and minds

Building a solution is only half the battle when it comes to achieving success in user-focused projects.  A project will only meet its objectives in full if it creates the desire among colleagues to embrace and use the change.

Of equal importance then to data, tools and documentation changes, is the need to improve awareness and behaviour, but how to go about achieving this kind of change? At Oaklin we suggest developing user-friendly and easily-consumable user artefacts, like engaging animations, written explanation and training schedules.

These can be reinforced by encouraging the organisation’s leaders to actively communicate the importance of JML, setting the example and adding interest and credence in efforts to engage people. When doing this, we have also found it essential to test the proposed artefact with real end users before releasing them. It is much better to objectively research what resonates best with a target audience, rather than assuming you know best. At the government department it was these activities that changed user behaviour, which was a key part of the project’s success.

At Oaklin we are proud of the work we have delivered through government frameworks and we look forward to continuing to engage with our public sector clients, to deliver projects that change things for the better.

Joe Thomas

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Joe Thomas


Joe is a management consultant with a proven record delivering digital transformation alongside clients in the private and public sector.

He is passionate about leveraging innovate solutions to generate growth, weather uncertainty and solve business challenges. Joe enjoys writing thought leadership papers, looking to explore sustainable business solutions via new technologies.