Steve Black, Programme Director at Agenor Technology reflects on his approach to delivering Digital Transformation Programmes in the FE Sector over the past 2 years …

Delivering successful Digital Transformation Programmes undoubtedly requires a flexible project management approach to meet Client requirements and review Supplier capability.

I’m not talking about Agile or Waterfall in this article – let’s leave that for another Blog – this about the value of ‘Experience’.

Many years ago, I recall a seasoned CIO telling me what the keys to successful project management were:

  • Deliver to Scope
  • Deliver on Time
  • Deliver within Budget

… and of course, let’s not forget Quality throughout all of the above.

This is great in principle, but disruption and variance must be expected across the project life cycle, and hence my opening statement referring to adopting a flexible approach.

However, I’m also a very strong believer in structure and discipline and it’s my view that these are the real qualities that will ‘gain and maintain’ Client confidence.

With this in mind, I have developed a simple, repeatable project delivery approach that does 3 things:

  • Listens to the current Client pain-points and challenges
  • Builds an improvement path based on Client requirements and Strategic Objectives
  • Delivers successful outcomes

I’ve labelled this approach: ‘3-Ds’, which is derived from a commitment to essential Programme Phases: Discovery, Definition and Delivery.

The Table below describes the ‘3-D’ Programme Phases and Deliverables for each:

Programme Phase Description Deliverables
Phase 1 Discovery Due diligence is a critical phase of the Programme.

Definition of the current baseline is vital to understand, in order to state a desired end point.


•        View of current Organisation Structure to highlight roles and responsibilities relevant to the Digital Transformation

•        Capture of ‘as-is’ digital state

•        Reveal of process failures/challenges

•        Reveal of organisation concerns around the current digital state

•        Signpost to future transitioned digital state

•        Signpost to benefits to be realized through commitment to a digital transformation

•        Signpost to partnership arrangements and shared cost of change outcome

•        Signpost to Service Management future outcome

Phase 1 is not:

•        An audit – it is a collaborative exercise with open information sharing

•        The solution – that will be the outcome of the subsequent Phase 2 Definition and Phase 3 Delivery

Phase 2 Definition To articulate a clear view of the desired end state and establish a commitment to sponsorship, deliverables, resource, timescales and budget.


•        Communications Plan – create an effective channel of engagement between the Digital Transformation Programme (DTP) and Key Business Stakeholders

•        Task Force Team – a Project Team spanning all key areas of the Client DTP and definition of a Terms of Reference

•        Definition of Requirements – creating a detailed document describing Success Criteria across the DTP scope

•        Identify Partner Organisations – explore if the opportunity exists to collaborate in the delivery of the Client DTP

•        Identify Technology Solutions Providers – lead a procurement exercise to award ‘trusted technology partner’

•        Phase 3 Delivery Plan – construct an outline plan

Phase 3 Delivery To deliver IT and Business change across prioritised areas of the Client Organisation.

Clearly, until Discovery and Definition Phases have completed it is not possible to commit to Delivery objectives.


•        Solution Delivery – aligned to approved Scope Definition for Infrastructure and Applications

•        Organisational Change – Introduction of Business Owner role, Process Improvement, and Digital Skills uplift to support curriculum delivery

•        End of Programme Report – a comprehensive reflection covering benefits realisation, key observations, lessons learned and any follow-on actions

It has been challenging and exciting to work within the Scottish FE Sector over the past 2 years and extremely rewarding to see the positive business change achieved through the delivery of a Digital Transformation Programme.

It starts with a Client Vision and Ambition for Digital Transformation, which leads to the adoption of a Programme underpinned by ‘my 3-Ds’ … it really is as easy as 1-2-3-D!

A final testimony to this approach is articulated by the Vice-Principal of a FE College who held the vision and sponsorship of a Digital Transformation Programme I recently delivered:

This has been an extraordinary Transformation Programme conducted under extraordinary conditions, during a Global Pandemic. Excellent team working and collaboration has been critical and with Agenor providing the strategic leadership for our digital transformation we’ve achieved our desired outcomes on time and on budget. I truly believe you have achieved something quite incredible

Find out more about College Expo Headline Sponsor – Agenor Technologyat this year’s Virtual College Expo22.

Share This Story