Human-centred project management for Victoria’s rollout of NDIS
Together for good – the client challenge
Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was created in response to challenges and ideas raised by communities who wanted to see choice, control, and a whole-of-life approach to supporting people with significant and permanent disability.
The scope of the NDIS is transformative and far-reaching, with an overarching aim to empower the hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities – together with their families and carers – to live more independently and work towards achieving their goals. NDIS reforms represent a complete restructuring of Australia’s disability sector, and a doubling of spending on disability by Australian governments to around 1% of GDP.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) engaged Cube to support the rollout of the Scheme across 17 local areas in Victoria, by establishing agile governance and project management practices across a large scale, complex and time-critical program of work.
Bringing the right thinking and people to the table
Cube applied our ‘Project Enablement’ framework to stand up a DHHS NDIS Project Management Office (PMO).
The rollout of NDIS in Victoria required a project management model that balanced governance rigour with light-touch support for front-line delivery resources with significant service delivery commitments.
We brought to the PMO a philosophy that project management should help, not hinder. We applied human-centred design principles to PMO establishment, seeking first to understand and empathise with the needs of both area-based rollout resources and central planning and co-ordination teams.
We designed fit-for-complexity frameworks, tools and processes across key PMO functions including planning and scheduling, governance and decision making, issue/risk/change management, budgeting and reporting, including pragmatic approaches to stakeholder engagement and consultation.
We ensured timely information was captured and shared with key decision makers as issues and opportunities presented themselves during the rollout, and actively managed the progress of the program against key external dependencies and commitments, including interfaces with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the Commonwealth.
Figure 1: Cube’s Project Enablement Framework:
The positive change we delivered
Our collaborative approach broke the mould of traditional compliance-led PMOs that too often create arduous reporting obligations and red tape. Our focus was supporting, enabling and empowering NDIS program rollout teams to succeed.
A key goal in establishing the DHHS NDIS PMO was to build project management capability within the Department, so the PMO could perform and endure without the need for external support. We achieved this goal, building skills within the public purpose sector that can be applied to future programs of work.
Our PMO role supported DHHS to navigate and roll-out a once-in-a-generation, complex service system transformation in tight timeframes, always placing the needs of people with a disability at the centre.
Insights for inquisitive minds
Every PMO is different and requires a tailored approach that reflects the unique characteristics of the work program, and the culture of the organisation delivering it.
PMO’s that put compliance first fail. Compliance is a natural by-product of empowerment, support and collaboration. Put people at the centre of PMO operations and shared outcomes can be achieved.
Service delivery resources often have varied levels of project management understanding. A flexible approach is needed that provides project management education and support to those who need it most.
Complex, long-term programs of work can be tiring. The PMO can play a role in monitoring the intangible ‘energy’ of the program and bringing a diversity of engagement modes to the table that keep spirits high.