As the world begins to move out of lockdown measures in response to COVID-19, companies and their boards will begin to reassess their business continuity plans. Not only will this further strengthen plans in the event of another incident or a second wave, but it will also identify lessons learned and develop narrative reporting for upcoming annual reports and compliance statements against s.172 of the Companies Act 2006.

As part of this, it is important to develop a Post Implementation Review (PIR) process. PIRs should be used to assess measures, projects or procedures that had been put in place as a response to COVID-19 as boards continue to manage the impact and to kick-start the road to recovery for those impacted financially. These lessons learned will bolster your boards’ business continuity plans and contribute to increasing efficiencies, allowing you to respond more quickly and effectively to future critical incidents.

What is a Post Implementation Review and what is its purpose?

A Post Implementation Review (PIR) is designed to evaluate whether project implementation objectives were met, determine how effectively this was achieved, learn lessons for the future, and ensure that the organisation gets the most benefit from the implementation of projects like business continuity planning.

After a long project that has been delivered under strict deadlines and in line with ever-moving goal posts, the last thing many teams want to do is relive the process (this is especially the case given our current operating environment). However, the purpose of a PIR is to ensure that the business embraces ways to improve.

A forward-looking review can uncover many tips and strategies for improvement – and a PIR can be an efficient tool in evaluating the implementation of measures, projects or procedures. Every outcome, be it a product, process or service, should be compared with the initial concept and its effectiveness assessed accordingly, yet PIRs rarely make an appearance on boardroom agendas once a project is complete.

Why should boards and senior managers complete a PIR process?

1. Determine project success – discuss at board level with senior managers whether the project/deliverables are functioning as expected. Question whether it is functioning well and in a way that is flexible to future operating demands. Boards will want to know where the end result compares with the original project plan, in terms of quality, schedule and budget. Lastly, boards and senior managers will want to review how the project or program impacted the organisation’s objectives and whether the new process is strategically aligned or requires modification.

2. Engage and assess the satisfaction of stakeholders – Boards should be reviewing the impact at stakeholder level and whether any issues have arisen and how those will be addressed. For example, boards should ask for insights on new IT software being utilised for home working, whether all staff and newcomers had been trained sufficiently and if there is a need for further training and development. As mentioned the views of staff is an incredibly important feedback mechanism to assess whether a project has gone well. If key individuals aren’t satisfied, boards should discuss how this is to be addressed. Testing such satisfaction levels also adds to the board’s stakeholder engagement initiatives and helps further strengthen governance procedures.

3. Identify areas for development – As mentioned above engaging with stakeholders will help assist in identifying areas of development and additional benefits that could possibly be achieved. This also provides companies the opportunity to complete a risk assessment to review the initial main risks, how they were addressed, prioritised and whether any unforeseen risks have arisen that need to be treated.

4. Identify lessons learned – This provides the board, senior managers and those involved with the business continuity plan an opportunity to be open and honest on what aspects of the implementation had went well, what went poorly and the negative lessons learned. It is important for those leading the discussions and board members to ensure that people aren’t in any way punished for being open, the purpose is to focus on the future and not assign blame.

How to report findings: Post Implementation Review reports

In order to report findings and recommendations on the implementation of the company’s business continuity plan, the first step is to conduct a thorough gap analysis. Start by reviewing the list of expected deliverables from the outset of the project and ensure either that:

  • these have been delivered to an acceptable level of quality, OR
  • an acceptable substitute for each deliverable is currently in place.

If there are gaps, then this should be highlighted at the PIR meeting or equivalent board meeting. Where possible, using outside service providers or internal audit functions should be encouraged for the review process to get an objective, unclouded view of how well the plan has been implemented. Equally, a lot can be gleaned from the perspectives of those who were directly involved in the project, so the best possible strategy is to strike a balance between the two.

Regarding documentation, the Company Secretary should be heavily involved in putting together the PIR report. This should document practices and procedures that led to the implementation of the plan and make recommendations for applying them to similar future implementation projects.

The Company Secretary should review key documents to ensure that governance procedures on the company’s internal or external web pages are kept up to date. Compiling together the key documents in the form of a PIR report will help assess the planning process, as well as identifying the actual benefits achieved.

In the PIR report, Company Secretaries should also include the impact and plans on governance items such as the hosting of the AGM, board meetings and compiling critical evidence to illustrate s.172 considerations and discussions. This should show that the long term economic viability of the business has been considered by all directors under the company’s business continuity plans.

The compilation of such decision making and the PIR process will benefit boards by enabling them to draw on existing information to report on the impact of decisions made in the interests of employees, suppliers, customers, communities and the environment.

Creating a Post Implementation Plan

The final and most important part of the PIR report is the Post Implementation Plan. This should provide a clear summary of the key lessons learned from the project and outline how these learnings will be applied in the future. Those responsible for compiling the PIR report should ensure that the plan includes a checklist of actionable items that can then be referenced the next time a similar project goes ahead.

This period is a crucial time for companies and a point where the Company Secretary and the duties they fulfil are of key importance to the business.  For further information on PIRs, please contact Shaun Zulafqar or another member of the company secretarial team.

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Shaun works in our company secretarial team supporting various client companies, including AIM listed, technology start-ups and SME companies.

As a company secretary with over four years’ experience in both listed and professional services environment, Shaun is responsible for providing, corporate governance and statutory compliance support to several of our AIM listed clients.

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Published: 16th September 2020
Area: Corporate & Commercial

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