Brexit: 16 Steps to Success by a Programme Manager

Guest post – Allan Robb
A few weeks ago, Allan Robb put forward an analysis of the Brexit process from a project management perspective. Now, he suggests how we go about reaching the finish line.

This suggested way forward follows my earlier assessment of “How did we do?” The answer was “not very well”, putting it mildly and politely. So where do we go next?

It is clear that the whole situation is complex, highly political, extremely broad in scope, international and simply difficult – but not impossible. There are other examples in the construction and IT sectors that are complex but clearly doable. My first assessment used several essential success criteria covering both the “what” and the “how”. It is also these components where the way forward lies.


The next steps relating to the “what” components are as follows:

  1. Build a clear vision at the big picture level with a supporting strategy and detailed goals of what we are trying to achieve. This should be developed by a cross section of people then shared widely for comment before it is reviewed and finalised.
  2. Do the numbers. Define the costs and benefits and be really clear about the assumptions.
  3. Define the scope, the “business” requirements and the issues in some detail.
  4. Build the future operating Define how it will work and what needs to change.
  5. Define the solution with detailed assumptions/parameters and ensure it is clearly articulated.
  6. Identify the key stakeholders and develop a stakeholder Carry out a proper assessment and build a solid, well managed process to move forward. Ensure expectations are thoroughly understood.


The next steps relating to the “how” components are as follows:

  1. Ensure there is clear executive sponsorship from the top team that is sustained throughout the change process.
  2. Put a proper governance process in place that is well-structured, with clear roles and responsibilities.
  3. Develop a plan with high level milestones; build the detailed plan below this with activities and owners. Ensure that proper and regular reporting is in place with clear metrics for reporting progress.
  4. Build the required resources and Ensure the right people, budget and IT systems are put in place. Ensure it is all “fit for purpose”.
  5. Develop a change and communications strategy and plan addressing and involving the stakeholders at the right time.
  6. Build a set of values that everyone can buy in to.
  7. Identify and build a high performing team. Ensure there is superb leadership, good morale, and appropriate team building and review sessions.
  8. Introduce a risks and issues register to capture all of these, and ensure mitigating actions are in place which are proactive.
  9. Define a clear design and implementation approach with clear and agreed outcomes. How is it going to work? How will the options be analysed, judged and discarded to arrive at the “best” solution? Define a decision making process that will get a result. This won’t please everyone as there are so many different views, but a result is required.
  10. Ensure that sound judgement is applied to the process and also a strong delivery focus to “get things done”.

In summary

These are the steps at a macro level. After they are complete, there is then a need to get to a micro level – there are some 15,000 European laws that need to be considered. If we adopt 95% of them because they are sensible and worth keeping, we are left with 5% (some 450 laws) to deal with. We need to decide for each of these if they should be altered before being adopted, or removed altogether.

The next step at the micro level is to build a diagnostic tool with all of the key questions tailored to each sector of industry (government and commerce). Some companies may want to tailor this further to look at each of their business process areas such as marketing, supply chain, procurement, customer service, finance, HR, IT etc.


Allan Robb is an Interim Programme Manager. He has led a wide range of programmes and projects across the private and public sectors.