A new grant program for NDIS transition support launched in late March. NDIS Transition Assistance Funding is available under the Boosting the Local Care Workforce Program, a Commonwealth program administered by EY (Ernst&Young). A NDIS Transition Assistance fund of $5.6m will be distributed through grants of between $5000 to $20,000 for new and existing providers to spend on consulting support.

$20,000 can secure valuable support – so it’s an opportunity well worth pursuing. However, we know that many providers have way more than $20,000 worth of NDIS transition problems. With most states (with the exception of WA) in the advanced stages of NDIS roll out, organisations are continuing to experience NDIS challenges. Extended periods of change and uncertainty have put pressure on internal capability, budgets and resilience, right at the time when organisations need all hands on deck to manage the ongoing organisational transformation.

It’s times like these you might need to bring in outside support. But with limited funds to spend and many problems to tackle, how can you prioritise your precious consulting funds?

Take the time to reflect.

Applying for the Boosting the Local Care Workforce program starts with an online self-assessment of your current capability. This will give you some suggestions of actions to take, but not necessarily a strong sense of priorities.

Look for the greatest return on effort.

There are four principles to keep in mind to make sure your investment in business transformation delivers a strong, positive outcome.

1. Have you got the foundations in place?

We often find organisations jumping straight to solution mode, or wanting to put the icing on the cake, before they’ve really identified the underlying problem, or fixed a fundamental issue (like the financial viability of your services). Having strategy, product and financials in place are the basic foundations for your business. You need to know where you’re heading and why, what you’re offering to the market (and how it fits within the NDIS) and if you can deliver it within NDIS pricing. If you’re not confident in any of these areas, that’s where you should spend your consulting dollars.

2. Think holistically

Don’t forget about the downstream impacts. Organisation functions don’t exist in isolated boxes. Everything is interlinked. Work with your consultant to identify the potential knock on effects of your problem – or opportunity. For example, we’ve been working with a number of organisations to look at market opportunities under the NDIS. If you enter a new market (either geography, service or client group) or scale up in response to market opportunities, there will be consequences for your organisation in terms of brand, service delivery, staffing etc. as well as operational impacts on infrastructure and systems. Similarly if you develop a wonderful marketing strategy that portrays your organisation as warm and engaging, but your frontline customer service staff are unfriendly, you’ll need to address the whole, end to end customer experience in order to get the most value from your initial marketing project.

3. How can you get most value from external support?

What could a consultant bring that you can’t source from inside your organisation? It could be particular skills, experience, or knowledge; it could be consulting tools that will help you work through a process; it could be objectivity and independence, or any combination of the above. What sustainable benefit will the consultant leave to your organisation? At CBB, we look to transfer skills and understanding to our client organisations as part of our charitable mission to build the sector’s business capability.

4. What do you need to contribute to get the most out of the support?

Some projects lend themselves to the consultant working fairly independently and reporting back to clients (e.g. research and reviews) but for the most part the quality of a consultant’s output will be significantly influenced by the time, information and effort that the client organisation puts into the project too.

Openly sharing your information and challenges creates a climate – in both data and relationships – that allows a consultant to deliver a good project that meets your organisation’s needs.

Anything that involves organisational change requires ownership and leadership from within the organisation. Consultants can help you navigate the process, but ultimately you’ll need to get your hands dirty, so when selecting your consulting project, consider how much people time you can invest in getting a good outcome.