Recent Question/Assignment

Coursework Information Sheet
To be supplied to students when they receive the coursework assignment task
Unit Co-ordinator: Pauline Loewenberger
Unit Name: Management Practice
Unit Code: SHR078-6
Title of Coursework: Written Report on Consultancy Project
40% weighting of final unit grade
Feedback details
The university policy is that you will receive prompt feedback on your work within 15 working days of the submission date. Exceptionally where this is not achievable (for example due to staff sickness) you will be notified as soon as possible of the revised date and the reasons behind the change.
Submission Date: 12th January 2015
Feedback Date: 2nd February 2015
Details of how to access the feedback: Turnitin

Consultancy Project: Luton Traded Services
As with many public sector organisations in the current economic climate Luton Borough Council must look at additional ways of bringing revenue into the authority. By 2015, in just 3 short years, the government will have cut our budget by well over a third. That’s over £60million which Luton Borough Council has saved without major impact on our frontline services. However, the next few years are going to be even tougher with further budget reductions from Whitehall and additional pressures from Welfare Reform and demographic changes. Reducing our dependency on Whitehall grants is an imperative, so Luton Borough Council are now focused on trading our services to generate income and preserve the frontline services.
Raising money by selling services to external organisations will reduce the need to make cuts. As an organisation we have already increased our trading income by 28 per cent over the last 18 months, but we need to work harder at this and develop our commercial acumen. We have therefore established a brand ‘Luton Traded Services’ by which we can trade and by creating a limited company we can also trade with private companies. Work has been done creating a website, brochures, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and attending related business forums to market the ‘brand’ and promote Luton Traded Services.
It is believed that there is a prime opportunity for Luton Borough Council’s Property & Estates Services to be offered to other private and public sector organisations to bring external income into the authority. The principal business objective of the Property & Estates Services is to take advantage of the resources and expertise available within its service to source work outside of the normal local authority boundaries that exist, leading to generating income and profit for Luton Borough Council. Further benefits that can be gained with successful trading:
• Raise profile of our organisation
• Develop the in house resources in order to generate greater efficiencies within Luton Borough Council’s own services
• Develop greater co-operation with other neighbouring Local Authorities

The focus of the consultancy project is on in the Building Design and Construction Management division of Property and Estates Services in Luton Borough Council. We recognise our staff in the multi-disciplinary teams as being important assets and the need for different skill sets prompted the development of a Commercial Awareness programme to improve skills in business strategy, business finance, sales and marketing and negotiation.
Within our own service we began focussing on generating income over 18 months ago. We commissioned PML Consultancy in 2013, to review our Design and Maintenance Team and determine if it could be profitable and viable for generating income in future years. At the time there were 8 staff of a variety of professions, all reporting to a single manager. PML carried out 1-2-1’s with each staff member, held staff workshops and reviewed a variety of income sources and related data. The team contributed to a SWOT analysis and team discussions and the general consensus was that the immediate weaknesses was the lack of particular in-house resources (M&E and CDM) and the structure was too flat to allow for career progression or efficient management. PML Consultancy recommended:
• Adopting a new process for working which was developed and agreed with the staff and which was also supported by the Business Team
• Restructuring of the team to create capacity to manage future workloads
Our Management Team supported these recommendations and began the process of an Organisation Change Assessment (OCA) to review the structure of the team in December 2013. This resulted in an increase of personnel from 9 to 16 (and still growing) which were made up of permanent posts and 2 year fixed contracts. The team is also supported by the Project Management Team made up of 9 personnel. Temporary staff are employed as required. The new structure is shown below.
Since the restructure some things have worked well, others less well.
What’s worked well since the restructure?
• Corporate Management supported all major projects to be undertaken in-house by our Design Consultancy Team
• Projects commissioned that are funded from external sources such as NHS (National Health Service), HRA (Housing Revenue Account) and EFA (Education Funding Agency)
• Improved working with Facilities Management Team and Project Managers
What hasn’t worked as well?
• staff not communicating effectively with each other
• staff not following the agreed process
• staff not having time to update central records and also storing electronic data within their own files and not in a shared area
• unable to fill key vacant positions
• no quality assurance process
• unable to claim fees on a timely basis
The Property and Estates Services are striving to become a profit making organisation by April 2017. Analysis of current fees to be claimed from existing commissions has been undertaken and identified additional work streams are required from the financial period 15/16 to ensure future success of the service. Therefore the decision to progress high value commercial contracts within a 50 mile radius to Luton has been taken as this is where the highest return will be realised. Financial analysis of the staff hourly and day rates has also been carried out to ensure services provided currently and tenders/works quoted for are commercial viable.
It is the intention that as our Design Consultancy and Project Management service is already trading successfully with Luton schools and has the ability to deliver a much greater net profit our primary focus is to market this service more widely and with a greater frequency. Other services with the Property & Estates Services are to be marketed on a lesser frequency as these will achieve a lower net profit. This Marketing Plan is to be reviewed and updated as required in line with industry changes and service capacity
A successful marketing plan will need to be backed up by a safe, effective and commercially viable delivery plan with in-built quality that will lead to repeat business. The principal selling point of Property & Estates Services will be advocating must be the level of quality and customer service, therefore, the successes and standards that have been achieved will need to be repeated and maintained throughout all marketing campaigns.
Key selling points to communicate include;
• The diversity and scale of design projects the service has and is continuing to deliver
• In-house team backed by supporting professionals as required
• Ensuring messages regarding the principle elements of our design services are communicated such as use of local durable materials, energy efficient lighting etc.
University of Bedfordshire MBA Consultancy Brief
A meeting with Karen Amos, Business Development Manager, identified key challenges for LTS and opportunities for collaboration with the University. Karen develops tenders and quotes for commercial business with some input from professionals. The Building Design and Construction Management Team comprise professional architects, Quantity Surveyors, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers. Within the new structure they work in small teams with a Principal heading each team and under a new manager. There is a strong public sector ethos at the Council. To make the project a success Luton Traded Services are looking to change this culture to one that is more commercial and service oriented. The meeting identified four main areas to cover:
1. Personal - some staff may believe that this is not their job. In many cases they have paid for their own training and professional development and they are reluctant to work in a paid consultancy environment. Others will be genuinely nervous about embarking on private work after many years in a public sector organisation or may fear their livelihoods will be threatened if they do not have the skills to work in that environment.
2. Practical – Staff are, of course, continuing to work in their existing jobs and there will be issues in balancing their own work and the new demands of consultancy. Students will look at the available resources to see how a balance can be made between core services and external, commercial activities.
3. Skills/knowledge gaps – the project will identify skills gaps and related resources and how these can best be filled to meet the demands of Luton Traded Services and their customers.
4. Communications and Marketing – How to communicate the new positioning to internal stakeholders and to other councils, as customers, in a way that will enable LTS to compete effectively in an increasingly more competitive market.
What do LTS want our Practice Week to achieve?
• How can we empower our staff to take more responsibility for their role in a Project and work more efficiently?
• How can we motivate staff to work for other organisations outside of Luton Borough Council
• Are there ways we can build capacity in our existing resources to meet the new demands of trading?
• How can we support our staff to develop their ‘softer skills’ and meet any skills gaps?
• Are there different markets we could trade successfully within?
• What are the best ways to reach our target market?
Roger Kirk
Head of Fixed Assets
Luton Borough Council
Karen Amos
Business Development & Service Improvement Manager
Luton Borough Council
Andrew Jackson
Principal Architect (and Acting Project Design Manager)
Luton Borough Council
MBA Toolkit
From the initial consultation and the brief provided by Roger Kirk, Head of Fixed Assets the problems that we need to address focus around Organisational Culture, Change Management and Marketing and identified potential theories from the MBA toolkit for analysis purposes.

Information gathering is essential to the problem solving process in consultancy and given that most problems are concerned with the professional staff a focus group was organised to collect their views, which might present a different perspective to that of management. The focus group was conducted by 9 student volunteers, two academics and 5 LTS staff (4 architects and 1 QS) loosely based around these questions.

The full voice recording of the focus group discussions are available to you on the SHR078-6 Management Practice Breo site. Analysis leads to the summary of key issues provided below. Quite surprisingly staff appear very optimistic about the commercial activity and organisational culture would appear less of a concern than the need for a clear strategy and effective and efficient organisation and use of human resources.
• The focus here is very much one of change management and you will need to analyse the case drawing on the MBA toolkit for Lewin’s change management model, force-field analysis and the Kaleidoscope model of change.
• You will also need to consider effective utilisation of skills and the problems of recruitment and retention as the organisation appears to need to conduct job analysis leading to revised job descriptions and person specifications to fit the changing needs.
• Finally, you will need to consider the Marketing issues
Remember to focus on the summary above of what LTS want our Practice Week to achieve. You must address the client’s needs.

Your task
1. You are required to analyse the LTS case outlined above applying appropriate Business and Management theory from the MBA toolkit to evaluate its usefulness in practice.
2. You will need to deliver feasible solutions for the consultancy project as negotiated with the client organisation.
3. You will need to reflect on the effectiveness of your personal and professional practice skills and identify areas of excellence and areas where you need to improve.
4. This must be a professionally written and presented business report clearly and concisely communicating your ideas through integration of theory and practice (1600 words).
Core Learning Outcomes
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this unit you should be able to: Assessment Criteria
To achieve the learning outcome you must demonstrate the ability to:
1 Identify, reflect upon and evidence key areas for development and to stipulate areas of excellence in management practice • Critically evaluate your practice skills, for example, contributions to effective team work, decision making, problem solving and the generation of creative ideas, presentation, elevator pitches and business plans.
2 Develop positive and enquiring approaches to management and enterprise and to challenge existing preconceptions so as to integrate new knowledge for future application. • Deliver feasible solutions for a consultancy project negotiated with a client organisation
• Research, select and use creatively appropriate business and management theory to manage and complete a project in the context of a new situation.
• Use theory and show independence of thought in evaluating its usefulness in practice.
You will need to have read additional materials including the Business Plan and LTS brief on Breo and the voice recording of the Focus Group.
• 40% Weighting towards unit grade
• Please submit your assignment to Turnitin in the assessments section of the Breo unit site by the stated deadline. You are allowed a single submission only so make sure you are happy with your work and that you submit the correct document.
• Feedback will be provided through Turnitin within 15 working days.
• Please refer to the Assessment Evaluation Criteria

Report Writing Guide
Section / Title Details / Guidance
Title page Title of your report. Address (to/from) and date the report.
Executive Summary 150 word maximum summary of your report, including key recommendations.
Contents Page Include page numbers.
Introduction Short (approximately 200 words) introduction to the report setting out what the aims and objectives of the report are, what the report will cover and why.
Analysis Using appropriate tools from the MBA Toolkit critically analyse and evaluate their effectiveness applied in practice to the case. You should make reference to relevant models, and frameworks and include critical viewpoints.(Approximately 500 words)
Conclusions This section should initially answer the report aim and objectives and draw together the main points from your analysis.It summarises what has been learned from undertaking this consultancy project. It should also begin to weigh up the options available to the organisation and what would impede implementation and based upon option evaluation, begin to identify the way forward. No new information should be presented in the conclusions. (Approximately 200 words)
Recommendations Make recommendations for improvement based upon your conclusions, clearly stating how they can add value to the organisation. Recommendations should be fully feasible and justified considering costs, priority level, time-scale, resources, who is responsible, benefits and any further implications to the organisation. Your proposals should be actionable (‘immediately implementable’) not just a list of ideas. You can use a table to help structure your action plan. (Approximately 200 words)
Reference List A list of all sources cited directly in the text. Harvard style
Bibliography List The sources you consulted but which you do not cite.
Reflective account Identify, reflect upon and evidence key areas for development and to stipulate areas of excellence in management practice. Critically evaluate your practice skills, for example, contributions to effective team work, decision making, problem solving and the generation of creative ideas and presentation. (Approximately 350 words)