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Better by Design Pursuing excellence

How we strategically deployed Lean Six Sigma and other business process management methodologies to help us innovate, adapt and get ready for growth.

This report is for leaders and senior managers within charities. It aims to provide an overview of CLIC Sargent’s business improvement programme, what we have achieved and to share learning that may be relevant to others. Authors Sarah Fitzgerald, Freelance Writer and Editor Sherine Wheeler, Head of Change Management, CLIC Sargent April 2014

Contents Introduction 


About CLIC Sargent 


About Better by Design 


CLIC Sargent in numbers 


Better by Design in numbers 


The challenge of change 


Designing Better by Design 






Programme set up and governance 


Drawing on the experience of others 


Early experiments and start-up 


Winning and maintaining commitment from staff


What we improved


Case study: the Travel Project 

Critical success factors of our approach 



Reliance on data and metrics 


An inclusive approach 






Performance and accountability 


Empowerment and choice 


The right questions 




Completing the programme and reflecting on our experience 




Embedding continuous improvement 


Sharing our learning with the sector


What our staff say 


Introduction About CLIC Sargent CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. We are there from diagnosis onwards and help families deal with the impact of cancer, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement. We are a young charity with a long history, formed in 2005 following the successful merger of Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood (CLIC) and Sargent Cancer Care for Children. Last year we supported more than 6,600 children and young people, and their families. In 2011 we set ourselves a challenge to grow our services, income and influence in a planned and sustainable way, so that we could meet more of the needs of children and young people with cancer who rely on us, and respond to changes in the external environment from a position of strength. We’ve committed to continue building an effective and efficient organisation, and working with partners and supporters to increase our impact. By 2017 we want to have significantly increased our net income, so we are able to develop and extend our services, and reach and support all those children and young people with cancer who need us. This means investing in sustainable stark choices: income sources to increase financial resilience.

We faced stop investing in growth, cut back or reduce costs.

In late 2011, having invested in regular giving, and facing continued pressure in a challenging economic climate, we had a located budget deficit of £1 million. We faced stark choices: stop investing in growth, cut back or reduce costs. We chose to continue our commitment to growth, and to remove £1 million from our cost base without cutting services or reducing capacity, by embarking on a business improvement programme to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

About Better by Design Better by Design, our strategic business improvement programme, focused on driving performance, improving quality, working more efficiently and making sure every aspect of our operations reflected our commitment to doing our best for the children, young people and families we support. We approached business improvement with a view to achieving readiness for growth, and wanted to avoid arbitrary cost-cutting or top-slicing. In practice, this meant adopting more effective working methods and realising true efficiencies, shifting the culture of teams and

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


embedding a commitment to continuous improvement. Although our key processes, such as purchasing and procurement, had evolved and adapted, they hadn’t been fully reviewed since our merger when two much smaller organisations joined together. We felt we needed to design business processes that were not only effective and efficient in the present, but also fit for the future. In order to be able to support the growth outlined in our strategy we would need to become even more innovative, forward thinking, adaptable and efficient. Readiness for growth meant going back to the drawing board, looking at how some of the key aspects of operations were being carried out and making them better. Achieving £1 million in recurring net savings (roughly 8% of our non-service delivery cost base at the time) without reducing capacity seemed a huge task: one that would take time, resources and specialist skills. We gave ourselves two years. Two years later we have achieved our £1 million target. Along the way we’ve learned a lot about how to go about a programme like this, both the benefits and the potential pitfalls. Having reached our goal, we are reflecting on our experience and assessing possible lessons for CLIC Sargent and for the wider sector.

CLIC Sargent in numbers cc Total income of £22.26 million cc 421 full-time equivalent staff and a headcount of 453 cc Operations across 16 offices, nine Homes from Home, one holiday home, 18 principal treatment centres, 16 paediatric oncology shared care hospitals, 28 shops and one warehouse.

Better by Design in numbers cc £130,000 programme cost per annum for two years cc £127,932 upfront investment in our processes cc £1,090,298 recurring annual financial improvements achieved cc 2.8 times investment over two years achieved, based on programme costs and upfront investment in our processes cc 8% of our non-service delivery cost base saved cc £89,440 savings ring-fenced for reinvestment in service delivery cc 11 projects comprising 57 process improvement solutions delivered.


Better by Design has achieved great results. For the children, young people and families who rely on us, it means we are on track to meet our strategic aim of growing frontline service delivery and reducing unmet need by 2017. For our supporters, it means assurance that every pound donated to CLIC Sargent is being spent wisely – and that our priority is meeting the needs of children and young people with cancer now and in the future.

Profile of CLIC Sargent's non-service delivery cost base £7,000,000

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Profile of recurring financial improvements by cashable financial benefit type


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Cost reduction Increased income

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence



32% Finance, Facilities and IT


People and Learning

56% Fundraising


CE Office


Communications and Campaigning


The challenge of change Last year we supported more than 6,600 children and young people with cancer, and their families, but we’re not meeting all of the need yet. We want to be there for all young cancer patients when they need us, so we have a robust strategy for growth, including working more effectively and efficiently. We began by debating a number of questions: cc What skills, framework and methodology would enable us to achieve recurring cashable savings, improvements to quality, reductions in wasteful working, and shift our culture? cc How could we increase the focus on process and quality when staff were already working hard and keeping a watchful eye on value for money? cc How could we achieve this without derailing our existing ambitions and risking operational plans? cc Did our staff have an appetite for change and, if so, enough to make this magnitude of saving? cc Could misperceptions that we were cost-cutting lead to negative internal and external reaction, and perhaps even media attention? cc What approach could we take that would empower our staff and not have a negative impact on morale? Could we use this programme as a means to develop our staff? cc How much is too much when changing a cost base? Would 8% be too far, destabilising our operations? cc Would the financial target give us the wrong focus? cc How could we engage and mobilise staff across the charity and across seniority levels to steer the improvements? Change is hard and we didn’t know exactly how much tolerance there was within the organisation, our cost base, or our existing plans to make improvements of this scale in two short years. But we were and are confident in our organisational strategy, and felt that the benefits outweighed the risks. We made a strategic choice to undertake the programme, believing there was scope for doing more, merit in commitment to continuous improvement and in the need to align and ready our operations for the CLIC Sargent of 2017.


“Reducing capacity clearly wasn’t compatible with our agenda for growth. I was looking for a way to save money, and improve our capacity and capability at the same time. I have a long-term interest in process improvement and minimising waste, and experience of similar programmes from working at BP and in the NHS. I could see there was wasted time and effort in some of our processes, though I couldn’t have said if there was enough to get us back on track. It was a gamble. But if we were going to be true to our principles, it was right that we cut waste. It was worth trying.” Lorraine Clifton, Chief Executive

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Designing Better by Design To reach our goal of ÂŁ1 million of savings in just two years, we needed to create an initiative that was ambitious, rigorous and focused on real change. We needed to balance strategic focus and innovation with attention to detail and positive relationships.

Scope Our intention was to achieve our strategy to grow services, so we needed to find a way to make financial improvements that wouldn’t have any impact on service delivery. We believed that our fundraising and support functions were likely to have the most scope for improvement. We made a list of our key processes and spent time looking at these and other potential areas, their relative costs and a rough assessment of the ease with which they could be improved. Once we knew our likely priorities, we used this knowledge to gauge the depth and breadth of the methodology we would use. We wanted staff to be at the heart of the programme, so we asked them what needed improving, rather than telling them. All staff were invited to participate in an anonymous survey and tell us what they thought could be improved, and give their views on the change programme overall. To the reassurance of our directors, of those who responded: cc 88% said we needed the programme cc 74% said we could work more effectively cc Over two-thirds said we didn’t consistently minimise our costs. We also used the survey as an opportunity to ask staff which key business processes needed attention, based on their expertise, in order to validate or invalidate our early hypotheses.

Methodology Our Head of Change Management, Sherine Wheeler, set about devising a tailored approach that drew on business process management (BPM) methodologies such as Kaizen, Agile and in particular, Lean Six Sigma. We chose not to invest in the technologies and software tools that are often used with these methodologies, instead developing a toolkit that would skill up, support and motivate staff, so that they could engage more closely with our processes. We wanted to provide staff with the tools and means to identify and tackle issues relating to quality, reliability, waste or cross-functional working. Focusing on improving processes so that they are not only effective and efficient, but also capable of being responsive to ongoing improvement and change, we tailored business process management techniques to suit us. We developed tools and templates that were shareable, replicable, sustainable and accessible to staff so that they could pursue their own business improvements, with a view to ultimately embedding continuous improvement across the charity.


Programme set up and governance We identified a manager within the organisation with a strong track record in process improvement and appointed her as Head of Change Management. She led a temporary Programme Team of two. A Programme Board was set up as the governance body, ensuring projects’ deliverables aligned with wider strategic activities, holding project sponsors and project team members to account and approving any upfront cashable investments. We adopted the DMAIC approach – a data-driven quality strategy used to improve processes that works through five stages being Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control – and agreed that our projects would be delivered within a rapid improvement context. During implementation, there was regular progress monitoring by the Programme Team and Board, including as part of 30-day milestone reviews. The Programme Team reported directly to the Chief Executive and the Programme Board included most of our directors. Project sponsors led teams of cross-functional representatives, forming a project team for each project. Within each project, project team members led process governance and were empowered to choose which process changes were needed and when. They were accountable for leading solution ‘hubs’ to deliver the improvements they themselves agreed. A Programme Implementation Group was set up to advise and support project teams and to help build support for the programme throughout the charity. We relied on the skill and experience of our in-house programme team and bought in specialist technical or IT expertise only occasionally.

Drawing on the experience of others Many organisations wishing to make business process improvements hire consultants with expertise in change and process improvement methodologies. But we believed it was important to empower our staff so that the changes weren’t imposed on them and instead were driven from within the organisation. That’s why we chose to equip our own staff with the skills and expertise needed to identify and make improvements themselves – the foundation of continuous improvement. We are fortunate at CLIC Sargent to work with corporate partners who generously offer us their energy, expertise and resources. We turned to them for support, as well as to other charities and thought leaders in the private, public and third sectors. We were able to access the wealth of experience in change and process management of Tesco plc, Zurich and GlaxoSmithKline which we drew on to help us plan our approach and develop our methodology. We also met with RNLI, who had themselves embarked on an ambitious improvement programme, to hear about their experience.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


“We’re indebted to many people who generously gave their time and shared first-hand experience with us – their advice helped us to understand how to steer our course successfully. But we also recognised that what works in other organisations or sectors wouldn’t necessarily be right for us and balanced what we were learning from others with what we knew about ourselves and our needs. There were some who doubted that we could do this in the way that we were planning to. Many thought we didn’t have the time, resource or skills to save so much – that it was unachievable. We took everyone’s advice, even when it was discouraging, as inspiration.” Sherine Wheeler, Head of Change Management

“CLIC Sargent has done a great job of using the Lean Six Sigma tools and demonstrating a fantastic, structured approach. It was great to be able to support them through this and I’m even more delighted with the £1 million saving they delivered. This is a fantastic cost saving that is going to benefit the lives of so many children and young people with cancer, and their families.” Andrew Bennett, Head of Continuous Improvement, Tesco Group, Tesco plc

Early experiments and start-up We needed to demonstrate what could be achieved, and begin realising savings as soon as possible. In early 2012 we embarked on our first project. From our work to better understand and define key processes, and the feedback from staff through the survey, we decided to start with stock management. CLIC Sargent manages a large amount of stock, from donated goods to merchandise to fundraising materials. Of those staff who were in a position to know about our stock management, 94% said there was room for significant improvement. By reviewing and strengthening our stock management and logistical processes, we achieved a net financial improvement of £141,000 each year. By the time we had completed implementing these changes, we’d already put our initial learning into practice and embarked on a number of other projects. The programme was up and running, and delivering results.


Our early learnings Language Early on, perhaps not surprisingly, people really struggled with the language of business process management. The Programme Team worked hard to find ways to communicate the methodology simply. At the same time, we wanted staff to learn and adopt the language of the methodology and this happened gradually, with coaching.

Data Fairly early on, it became apparent that not all staff were comfortable handling or interpreting data. We used tailored tools and coaching, 1:1 sessions and simulations to heighten awareness and deepen understanding of data and its importance.

Openness and transparency Another early revelation was how little some teams knew about the continuity of business processes across team boundaries. We couldn’t assume that anyone in the organisation had end-to-end understanding of a given process in meaningful detail. Encouraging open dialogue about the challenges staff faced, and frank discussion about frustrations teams might have with other teams, was a good way of fostering a shared understanding of how we were doing something as one organisation, not just ‘in my team’.

Coaching Some people needed or wanted additional coaching in the tools and techniques. We responded to this positively and swiftly. We dedicated a room in our London office to the programme where people could workshop proposals, map on to walls and use the space to develop their ideas. Staff could contact the Programme Team any time and set up a session to get additional coaching with particular techniques, or to discover new tools in the toolkit that they could apply in their own work, outside of the programme. All tools and templates were available to all staff and we illustrated them with every day examples, like improving a process to make the perfect cup of coffee or using a cause and effect matrix to choose a holiday destination.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Winning and maintaining commitment from staff Engaging staff and keeping them at the centre of the programme’s approach, direction and action has been critical to the achievements of Better by Design. When we first began talking about the programme, many staff expressed curiosity and enthusiasm, seeing it as a vehicle for making changes they themselves had been talking about for, in some cases, years. The rapidity, structured approach and senior sponsorship really appealed. But there was also anxiety. Some people were sceptical: was this just a cost-cutting programme in disguise? And others were anxious about the impact on their workloads and operating plans. Our internal communications had to be well-designed and give a strong and consistent message. Particularly at the beginning; our communications reinforced the fact that the programme was not about reducing staff numbers – we were focused on growth. Our approach involved: cc Communicating regularly, openly and fully about everything cc Having many 1:1 interactions outside of meetings, at people’s desks, and encouraging everyone to do the same. This gave us a direct route to communicating with staff if they had any concerns, and to identify even more areas for improvement cc Asking for feedback and wanting it. Staff would only be engaged if they felt able to influence the direction we were heading in. If someone had negative feedback, we’d see what we could do about it, quickly cc Tackling contentious issues head on. We tried to address problematic issues and reconcile conflicts openly and quickly, never allowing anything to fester cc Being flexible. Staff valued some flexibility to adopt their own way of doing things or to prioritise something other than what the programme was aiming to achieve cc Supporting project teams even after project closure. We brought teams back together months after projects had finished, helping them assess whether the improvements they had made were working as they’d intended and holding them to account for making sure what they had delivered was sustainable. This showed that the organisation remained interested and invested in their work cc Collecting and sharing good news. We celebrated milestones and successes openly and acknowledged staff’s achievements.


“We had people on project teams who perhaps hadn’t worked very closely with each other before, or didn’t have experience of working closely with colleagues who were much more senior or junior than them. We had to make sure everyone always came to the table on the same terms. It was great to see more junior colleagues gain confidence and develop, even sometimes challenging the thinking of a director. I know it was sometimes difficult for more senior members of staff whilst everyone got on the same page but that’s the point: if you want to take people with you, you have to take people with you.” Sherine Wheeler, Head of Change Management

Staff at the heart of change More than 60 staff – around 14% of our workforce – were directly involved in Better by Design projects. Our staff are best placed to know whether a process is broken and in what ways it can be improved. We challenged them to develop and make the changes that would result in us becoming more effective and efficient. Each project brought staff from across different teams and different seniority levels together, and sometimes the same people were involved with more than one project. The Programme Team supported each project team at every step of defining, measuring, analysing, improving and controlling areas that needed improvement.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


What we improved We saved £1 million in two years through a series of cross-functional and team projects.

Stock management project (our pilot) Recurring net saving achieved: £141,000 What we improved: We standardised our operating procedures, further developing our IT tools so that we could control stock better and reduce manual working. We centralised fundraising fulfilment, reduced redistribution of unsold stock between shops, developed a new van rota, and standardised fundraising packs, so that they are more cost-effective and easy to compile.

Gift Aid project Recurring net saving achieved: £123,000 What we improved: We now claim far more Gift Aid, and have improved penetration through sponsorship, increased Gift Aid income from auctions and corporate partners, and introduced a strategy, plan and policy. We’ve also changed the way we resource Gift Aid processing. We standardised and streamlined the technical and very complex aspects of processing Gift Aid, reviewing and amending product codes and moving manual processes onto our CRM database.

Operational banking project Recurring net saving achieved: £31,500 What we improved: We improved the security and efficiency of our banking, and made the most of opportunities to earn more from this, by moving from six banks to one banking partner.

Purchasing and procurement project Recurring net saving achieved: £141,000 What we improved: We changed our practices to buy more in bulk, as an organisation rather than individual teams, and optimised our negotiating power, using a preferred supplier list and rewarding suppliers that provide best value. We now have a Procurement Strategy, a Purchasing and Procurement Policy, a step-by-step guide for our tendering process, republished Financial Regulations and a ‘Working with our suppliers’ page on our website which reduces time wasted from would-be suppliers’ cold-calling.


Travel project Recurring net saving achieved: £91,000 What we improved: see case study on page 16.

Income processing project Recurring net saving achieved: £232,000 What we improved: We redesigned income processing end to end, created a new centralised team, redirected all income-related post to one location, began encouraging supporters to bank income themselves where appropriate, made it easier for supporters to give electronically, and revised our retail trading processes. We also redesigned income coding structures and mistake-proofed the processes surrounding attribution of income. Centralising income processing was cost neutral, but it freed up 0.7% of the capacity of our fundraisers so that they could increase the time they spend on fundraising.

Company cars project Recurring net saving achieved: £45,000 What we improved: Rather than replace our ageing fleet of company cars, we provided staff who’d had these with alternative means, including personal loans, and we increased business mileage reimbursement rates in line with HMRC thresholds.

VAT review project Recurring net saving achieved: £180,000 What we improved: An external firm helped us assess VAT reliefs available to us and carried out an internal audit. Incremental improvements include streamlining, automating and mistakeproofing our VAT process, and making it ready to deal with new income streams.

People resourcing project Recurring net saving expected: £101,000 What we are improving: We put in place improvements to recruitment and other resourcing practices, including driving down the cost of recruitment advertising by monitoring the effectiveness of various channels, improving planning and collaboration between HR and recruiting managers, and standardising and simplifying processes for resourcing different types of vacancies.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Case study: the Travel Project By the Travel Project Team

Defining the goal “Six of us from different teams came together, supported by the Programme Team. We agreed our aim: to get all staff to make good business decisions on whether and how to travel, to achieve cost savings, and to help staff maintain a good work/life balance. We drew up a project brief, and by using a SIPOC (a tool for helping define a project’s scope), agreed not to include travel for service delivery or community fundraising.” Adele Turnbull, Head of Community and Events

Measuring and analysing the issues “We mapped out the step-by-step processes staff went through when arranging travel. We found there were all kinds of ways staff did this, with varying lead times and price points. Financial data, interviews and questionnaires with staff showed us how often staff were travelling for business and where they were travelling to. Many manually researched and booked travel for themselves.” Sue Hobson, HR Manager

Unpicking culture and practice “While staff said they were frustrated by the impact of travelling on their work/life balance, many felt they couldn’t do their jobs as effectively without it. There were a surprisingly large number of regularly-occurring meetings that involved people travelling. And because more than half of staff paid for travel on a reimbursement basis, the charity often spent more than necessary, as people made last-minute purchases to minimise time out of pocket. We worked to find the root causes of the issues we’d uncovered. We used modelling tools to weight criteria and assign scores to different root causes.” Ellen Finlayson, Assistant Director of Services (Scotland and Northern Ireland)


Selecting solutions for improvement and making the case for each “Using structured criteria, we evaluated over a dozen options, deciding on five solutions. We calculated what the overall spend on business travel would be after we’d delivered them. We standardised procedures, implemented Microsoft Lync across the organisation, reduced the number and frequency of regularly-occurring meetings that involved travel, amended our travel and expenses policy, ensuring compliance, providing guidance, and made sure those who travel frequently could use a company credit card. Together, our five solutions would save £91,000, net of £54,000 upfront investment in the technology.” Vicky Charles, Head of MIS

Trialling and rolling out our solutions, making sure they stick “We rolled out three of the solutions straight away. The other two – reducing frequency of regular meetings and introducing technology – were trialled to make sure we had it right. It was great to see enthusiasm for the improvements growing, and people begin changing how they did things. During the ‘Control Stage’, and since then, we have continued to monitor things through ‘process owners’: individuals who are responsible for each solution we implemented. We also met recently to make sure what we delivered is still working as we had hoped.” Julie Worrall, Head of Fundraising Planning and Projects

Has it worked? “We completed the project in six months. We’ve achieved a recurring annual net saving of £91,000 and we predict this figure will rise; for example as more of our staff embrace video-conferencing. We found the experience of coming together to resolve issues with our travel rewarding and were able to realise improved value for money for the charity and staff work/life balance. We’re delighted with what we’ve achieved.” Liz North, Director of Communications and Campaigning and Project Sponsor

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Critical success factors of our approach Reliance on data and metrics We fostered a mindset in all projects of not accepting assumptions or statements at face value. People’s experience and professional judgement were important, but so was data. Reliance on data helped us to ensure and substantiate that we were doing the right things, and it was also critical to knowing if we had achieved what we had set out to, once implementation was completed.

An inclusive approach Better by Design’s focus was on a selection of key business processes, mainly in fundraising and support areas rather than frontline service delivery, but the changes the programme brought would be felt across all parts of the charity. It was important that everyone, whatever their role, understood what we wanted to achieve, and felt positively about the programme and its aims. Our internal communications used a range of channels and relied on both push and pull strategies, and both formal and informal communications. We wanted to make sure that every member of staff could engage with the programme and feel up to speed with what was happening. We put a strong emphasis on visual management in our communications, reporting on progress to the organisation using posters instead of long reports. The programme itself had a strong identity, and we used photos, videos of workshops, slide presentations and other visual aids on our intranet page, and throughout our offices, so that everyone could see what was going on, even when they weren’t involved. CLICSargent_14017_BBD_poster_A1.pdf




Things we did well last year c We were flexible – adapting our approach to the challenges of each project c Communicated honestly and transparently c Ensured everyone was able to contribute their ideas and expertise c Enabled and supported each other to work collaboratively c Shared new tools and techniques for understanding our problems and making changes c Achieved amazing results in a short time

Stock Management Project This was our pilot project and was intended to help us to understand our need for stock management and logistics and how best we can meet these needs. The Project Team delivered an impressive suite of improvements including a new Stock Management Team, standardising how we manage our stock, further developing Kudos so that we could automate parts of the process, reducing redistribution of unsold stock between shops, developing a new van rota and standardising fundraising packs making them more cost effective and easier to put together.

Travel Project

Recurring net saving


Purchasing and Procurement Project Many staff felt that we needed this project since we seemed to waste money by not getting the best value for goods and services we buy. The Project Team have changed this. A list of preferred suppliers and more buying in bulk for the whole charity means we get better deals now. We now have a Procurement Strategy, a Purchasing and Procurement Policy, a step-by-step guide for the tendering process, republished Financial Regulations and a new ‘Working with our suppliers’ page on our website: all meaning we all have the tools to get the best deal for the charity.

Recurring net saving


This project aimed to ensure that we could make better decisions on when and how to travel on business, to make sure we always get best value for the charity and maintain a good work/life balance. Microsoft Lync videoconferencing, audio-conferencing, document sharing, instant messaging and other facilities the project has introduced mean that staff can now collaborate across the UK without travelling. An updated travel and expenses policy, guidance documents for meetings and arranging travel, improvements to the use of credit cards for travel and a reduction in travel for regularly occurring meetings will mean we save even more.

Recurring net saving


Income Processing Project This is our most recent project. How we process income is extremely complex and different depending on where money comes into the charity. The Project Team agreed that inefficiencies in the process are having an impact on costs, staff morale, donor satisfaction and our ability to make informed decisions based on our management information. They felt that these things combined limit our capacity to meet our strategy and they are working hard to deliver improvements. These include proposing to create a new centralised income processing *Proposed team, proposing to redirect all income-related post to one location, encouraging donors to bank income themselves and give electronically whenever possible and outsourcing shop stock donation forms. The team are also working on simplifying and redesigning our internal processes for handling income and error-proofing source codes.

Recurring net saving*


Gift Aid Project This was a long awaited piece of work with a view to ensuring we attain and claim every penny of Gift Aid income we might be entitled to. The Project Team felt that there was a lack of knowledge and data about our Gift Aid performance and this wasn’t helped by the immensely complicated and varied processes we had in place. So the Project Team did an intense piece of work to unpick what was going wrong. We now have improved Gift Aid penetration through sponsorship, increased Gift Aid income from auctions and corporate partners and a Gift Aid strategy and strategic plan and policy. The team have also immersed themselves in the technical and very complex aspects of standardising and streamlining our processing of Gift Aid income, reviewing and amending product codes and moving some of our manual processes onto CARE in order to work as efficiently as possible. All this and a new Gift Aid Executive will mean that we can now claim much more Gift Aid.

Recurring net saving


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Things we’ll work on this year c New improvement projects though not necessarily always as large in scale as before c Making sure last year’s improvements are maintained c Ensuring more staff and teams have the opportunity to be part of a Better by Design project c Providing better access to Better by Design tools and techniques for use in your own areas of work c Improving communication

The final Better by Design project completes at the end of April. You’re invited to a celebration of what we’ve achieved together. Join colleagues on: Tuesday 15 April 2014 Hammersmith meetings rooms 1 & 2, 15:00 – 16:30

10/07/2013 15:13

Pace A rapid improvement context helped us keep focus, generate enthusiasm and unleash our staff’s energy. It also meant we realised savings quickly, and the success of early projects helped keep everyone motivated and inspired. Real-time financial and performance data helped us make good decisions quickly and maintain momentum. Once a solution had been implemented, we re-profiled our budgets to take account of the saving or income that we were forecasted to generate from the changes. People could understand the impact immediately.

Flexibility It was important to make sure Better by Design did not negatively impact on day-to-day activities. Over time we scaled up and expanded the reach of the programme across more teams, with staff building on their achievements, developing along the way and identifying more and more areas for improvement. We were selective about which new projects to take on for the remainder of the programme, ensuring those that weren’t picked up weren’t lost. Rapid improvement was critical – it helped us maintain focus and energy, limit disruption, and realise savings quickly. But we were always aware that it meant putting pressure on individuals and teams to participate fully while still maintaining their ‘day job’. And because of our growth strategy, most staff were already busier, and starting new activities, even without Better by Design. By the end of the first year, we continued to work at speed while also monitoring solutions and changes that had already been rolled out. This was the stage at which most of the tensions inherent in change came to the fore, as we had multiple projects in play and were disrupting pockets of the business along the way. There was a lot of pressure on staff involved in the programme, who by now were very committed to the ethos, methodology and results of the programme but who had to balance intensive working, changing operations and their own workloads. We managed this tension by being very flexible and taking a bespoke approach to each project.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


“If you have something that is motivating and positive, and people can see the results, they will put the extra in. But you can’t do it forever. When we were just over half-way through, it began feeling harder for many people. The first wave of energy from starting something new was wearing off. We’d done the easier things first, and the projects we’d now embarked on were more complex and would involve more people in changing how they worked. On the other hand, people were seeing real results, and that was motivating. It was always important to keep people motivated and involved by reminding them that this was a way of reducing our costs without impacting on services, and that we remained committed to our strategy to grow. You have to find the right way to bring this out in people: it can’t be imposed.” Lorraine Clifton, Chief Executive

“We had to be flexible and make concessions. We made sure we were aware of what was going on in the organisation beyond the programme and where the pressure points were so that we could be proactive. And we responded by adapting our project models in flight. We deepened or loosened the focus on some phases of the project cycle as appropriate, added and removed project team members where necessary and increased or decreased pace. We were asking the organisation to be innovative, responsive and committed to continuous improvement – the programme had to do the same. But it was still very hard for our staff at times.” Sherine Wheeler, Head of Change Management

Performance and accountability Better by Design drove a higher level of performance from everyone involved. Every project output was refined to achieve the highest level of quality and value possible. Using the principles underpinning its ethos, the programme also cultivated an integrity of process and transparency of approach that staff really embraced. As a framework, the programme nurtured a serious, no-nonsense approach that also meant accountability was upheld. This enabled staff to both support each other more fully but also to hold each other to account in their day-to-day working practices. The discipline of the programme’s approach was key to improving performance and upholding accountability.


Empowerment and choice Programmes and projects often begin with senior managers having a solution already in mind. This was actively discouraged in Better by Design. Instead, more junior managers and staff were proactively consulted and encouraged to make their voices heard and input to the changes. It was important that staff who were involved in the processes could bring their perspective to bear in choosing and driving improvements. Having chosen not to bring in consultants to diagnose our issues, we took responsibility for our improvements. This meant an uncomfortable shift to ways of working for some managers, who now found their colleagues were examining and analysing processes in their team. Our staff had been told that they were empowered to drive improvements and that, so long as they could back any decision with rigour and demonstrate it was the right thing to do, no-one could overrule them. That included our directors, every one of whom at one point or another had to allow members of their teams to make key decisions that at first they might not have been comfortable with.

The right questions Better by Design brought a new discipline to challenging assumptions and letting go of old ways of doing things. This has made a fundamental difference to the way the charity makes decisions, now relying even more on data and robust evidence to test and justify why we need to act in a particular way. Our staff definitely have a heightened awareness and deeper understanding of how good metrics support us, rather than simply being a bureaucratic need to report to senior management.

Integrity We aimed for integrity of process, and were open and transparent from the outset, accepting no less from staff. Everyone could be challenged, and many found themselves working to a more rigorous standard than usual. This meant people could more readily hold each other to account, and turn to one another for support. It was important that the programme didn’t violate any expectations our staff had about fairness and organisational justice. We paid very careful attention to achieving a fair process and fair outcomes in making changes to our structures, processes and systems – always with a view to doing the right thing for the children and young people with cancer, and their families, who we support.

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Completing the programme and reflecting on our experience October 2013 to April 2014 is the final phase of Better by Design. Our priority during this period has been delivering the final projects successfully; ensuring improvements are being sustained; assessing the impact of the programme on our culture and determining how to embed continuous improvement.

Sustainability We have undertaken a financial sustainability review of the budget re-profiles, taking remedial action where performance has been above or below what was expected when the project teams made their assumptions. We’ve also reviewed the operational sustainability of improvements made, making sure solutions continue to perform as planned, and assessing whether each one has met its objective. Some project teams have been temporarily reassembled months after completion to assess their improvements and take corrective action where necessary. We’ve also assigned process owners for all business improvements made, so there is someone accountable for making sure each area continues to perform well, and who will look for even further improvements over time. We are determined to maintain the process improvements that we have made.

Embedding continuous improvement Now that the programme’s end is in sight, our challenge is finding ways to embed continuous improvement. Our staff have shown the organisation and themselves how much they can achieve and how rigorously and rapidly they can resolve issues in their working practices, and we want this to be a part of everyday working. We are making our toolkit even more accessible to our staff and we want to change the emphasis we’ve had on involvement from more senior staff. Our project teams for the most part involved senior staff and managers, as this often meant we could run projects more quickly, and achieve savings sooner: important to our objective of extracting £1 million. There was a constant tension between pace and making big financial improvements, and the need to include even more frontline staff. Now the financial imperative has been removed, we are encouraging staff to re-think the make-up of their project teams. Exactly how many project team members and how senior they should be is the subject of much business improvement research - our firsthand learning is to keep teams to fewer than six or seven members and to emphasise, foster and encourage decision-making led by more junior staff.


“I still believe that process improvement is most effective where you have the frontline staff involved in that process, participating in changing it. But the speed at which we were driving the programme meant we could only do that to a limited extent. As we embed continuous improvement, I want to drive this much harder.” Lorraine Clifton, Chief Executive

Another key element of embedment is to further develop our staff. So many have picked up new skills and become more effective, enhancing their sense of job satisfaction as a result of developing a shared understanding of our structures, systems and processes. Embedding continuous improvement means building on this, using our reward and recognition schemes to further strengthen performance management and accountability, making sure to keep staff engaged with working as effectively and efficiently as possible. One way we plan to maintain our staff’s interest and commitment is by putting 10% of our staff through a Lean Six Sigma course during the next two years. We are also incorporating key metrics, relating to improvements already made, into departmental management reporting. Continuous improvement will now be included in the personal objectives of all senior staff, while our business plan challenges every directorate to plan and conduct at least one business improvement in their area each year, and report back to the organisation on their progress. We want to maintain and further embed the cultural impact of Better by Design, and will continue monitoring how our staff approach business improvement in the absence of the programme. We will make use of organisational development, performance management and accountability frameworks to further embed continuous improvement.

“I’m under pressure from staff who don’t want us to close down Better by Design. But I think there are good reasons not to become dependent on corporate programmes. We committed to a time-limited effort and that was important in challenging people to stretch themselves and find the energy. I’m really proud of the extent to which people have embraced the programme’s ethos and the imperative to improve. There is a new awareness internally among staff that they don’t want to go on as they were, if that’s not in the best interests of children and young people with cancer.” Lorraine Clifton, Chief Executive

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


Sharing our learning with the sector Better by Design has given us new ways of thinking and working that stand us in excellent stead for the future. We’ve also attracted interest from other charities with similar challenges. We set out with limited resources, skills and time to achieve our ambitions. Our achievements show that this level of savings and positive change is possible using a traditionally corporate methodology in a charity context. We carried out our change in a way that reinforced our values and principles, standing by unpopular decisions when our analyses showed they were the right thing to do. We have challenged ourselves to improve our performance and be accountable for doing better for ourselves, our supporters and our beneficiaries. The programme’s success has helped us see ourselves as innovative and adaptable, more confident about how we operate and deliver our services. We’ve shown we are capable of rising to and meeting the challenge of complex organisational change and development. This has helped us become ready for growth. Research indicates that organisations embark on change programmes once every three years on average, and over the past few years there appears to have been an increasing prevalence within charities of business improvement initiatives like Better by Design. Doing more with the same or less, and maintaining or expanding services to meet the needs of our beneficiaries, is a challenge we all need to rise to. That’s why we wanted to share our experience of implementing Better by Design, in the hope it may be useful for other charities.

“Any charity chief executive who’s thinking about this kind of programme should do it. Any organisation, however well run, will contain inefficiencies, and will benefit from looking again at core business processes. It needs a significant amount of commitment from the top: there were times people got quite nervous about whether they were up for this degree of disruption and change. Now we can look back and agree it was worth it. If you take broken processes for granted, and ignore inefficient use of resources in order to focus on more visible priorities, you are in effect allowing these problems to hold you back from growth.” Lorraine Clifton, Chief Executive


What our staff say “The real achievement was tackling the large, complex and daunting process issues that an organisation can easily put off, but that once resolved make a massive improvement to productivity and efficiency. Only a programme such as Better by Design that has supported effective cross team working can tackle these large-scale challenges.” Elliot Cox, Database Systems Manager

“Better by Design, although challenging at times, has been an exciting experience. In spite of the usual misgivings with which most change programmes are greeted, the tangible results have delivered real day-to-day improvements for staff at all levels.” Adele Turnbull, Head of Community and Events

“We were very unwilling to let go of certain ways of working. But the process of Better by Design, and the faith we had in that process, enabled things that were previously seen as sacred to become so obviously in need of change.” Jenny Turner, Head of Business Planning and Performance Management

“The programme was well-managed, carefully planned and led to fast-paced change. The projects I was involved in did take up quite a bit of my time, but the benefits achieved were well worth it and have led to significantly less wasted time and money. I learnt about many different project management tools and have been able to use these to manage other areas of my work in a more structured way.” Heather Doody, Supporter Relations Manager

“Initially I was a little unsure, largely due to the fact that it was a completely different way of working. Identifying the causes of an issue and making key decisions within a tight timeframe was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. The process was intense, at times exhausting, but ultimately exhilarating and rewarding. As well as addressing some long-standing organisational challenges, the process has contributed enormously to my personal development. There has been a noticeable improvement in project management across the organisation.” Jeremy Lune, Head of Trading

Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


“Better by Design is a challenge to what you thought you knew about your organisation and your processes. You keep an eye on the big picture but it makes you look forensically at the detail and every little step that might make a difference to your outcomes. It can be hard going when you are immersed in it, but it is absolutely worth persevering for the quality of analysis with your colleagues and for improvements that are achieved.” Paul Gathercole, Assistant Director of Services (North)

“This has been a hugely beneficial experience; I highly rate the whole Better by Design programme. It has been the most consistent and collaborative programme of change, producing the most effective and beneficial long-term results that I have seen in my 10 years at CLIC Sargent. I feel really proud of what my Better by Design project solutions have achieved and appreciative of the skills and knowledge I have gained through the programme, which will also benefit the organisation in my day-to-day role into the future.” Beverley Mackenzie, Challenge Events Manager

“Better by Design has transformed the way the data team works by removing processing work, which in turn has meant that the data team now have additional resources to undertake more complex analysis and move the data strategy forwards. During their initial stages Better by Design projects are labour intensive but the time investment is well worth the outcome.” Sarah Jones, Direct Marketing Data Manager

“It has created a culture and legacy of continuous improvement, and an encouragement to managers to examine and challenge why we do things a certain way and get to the root of identified problems. Sometimes the story behind the evolution of a complex or flawed process can be an eye-opener. Our projects had to be resourced internally, however, and this presented substantial workload challenges.” Angela Davis, Head of Finance

“The impact of asking ‘why’ we do things in specific ways has panned out across the charity – so that even those not directly involved in Better by Design are now checking their processes to make sure they are as effective and efficient as possible. Everyone has got better at questioning our internal systems and value the questions in a way that I’m not sure they did even a year ago.” Lydia Spry, Project Manager


Better by Design: Pursuing excellence


CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. We are there from diagnosis onwards and aim to help the whole family deal with the impact of cancer and its treatment, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement.

CLIC Sargent Registered address: Horatio House 77–85 Fulham Palace Road London W6 8JA

0300 330 0803

Registered charity number in England and Wales: 1107328 Registered charity number in Scotland: SC039857 Registered company number: 5273638 Printed on chlorine free and environmentally friendly paper, manufactured with pulp supplied from sustainable managed forests.


CLIC Sargent's Better by Design - Pursuing excellence  

How CLIC Sargent strategically deployed Lean Six Sigma and other business process management methodologies to help innovate, adapt and get r...