Transforming Ordnance Survey to compete globally

31st January 2020 | Pippa Shimmin

With a legacy of 225 years of history and a well-loved brand as the UK’s National Mapping Agency, Ordnance Survey’s challenge was to transform the business to compete internationally in a geospatial market increasingly dominated by Google and Microsoft. This transformation was expected to take 4-5 years and to impact their staff, processes, technology, data, customers and partners. CMC was selected as OS’s delivery partner in April 2016 to support them with their transformation.

The CMC team helped Ordnance Survey leadership to design and mobilise a programme that would be truly transformational for the company. We used P3M3 and Prosci® to undertake early organisational assessment of P3M3 maturity, change management maturity and organisational readiness. This helped us understand the starting position and shaped the transformation approach. We set up a PMO and implemented a suite of best practice processes and procedures to monitor and control delivery, including planning, risk & issue management and quality assurance. We consolidated existing (in-flight) transformational activity into the programme, introduced a ‘Dragon’s Den’ approach to test and approve new ideas, and worked with senior business managers to scope and document the project dossier and programme plan. We supported and mentored internal delivery teams to improve their P3M capabilities. We also mapped change products to project delivery lifecycle, integrating change management and project management. To ensure senior sponsorship, we partnered with senior business leaders and their teams to ensure they understood the need for changes and the behaviours they needed to display, which helped to reinforce the change.

Based on the credibility that we had built up, the PMO took on responsibility for assuring the delivery of Ordnance Survey’s full investment portfolio. We developed the PMO into a Portfolio Management Office (PfO) to provide assurance over both commissioning (investments) and delivery of all their initiatives. We led the identification and prioritisation of all initiatives, and secured senior sponsors for each initiative. We created and implemented a Corporate Portfolio Management Framework and Policy, which defined the processes and governance for commissioning new projects and delivering them coherently. We supported project and programme members to adopt new ways of working through communication, training and mentoring. We also delivered one-on-one skills transfer, coaching and management to help to fill vacancies with OS employees, rather than extending the CMC team. Having supported the recruitment and upskilling of permanent staff, we withdrew our consultants as Ordnance Survey had embedded their P3M maturity and were able to sustain and make further changes themselves.

The outcomes from our engagement included a portfolio management governance approach to prioritise and balance investments against strategy, a consolidated portfolio with common delivery processes and governance, and improved executive insight into the investment portfolio, facilitating better decision making and providing increased assurance. These provided firm foundations for Ordnance Survey to continue to develop and improve their portfolio management.


CMC has been an instrumental part of enhancing Ordnance Survey’s investment portfolio capabilities to enable us to deliver our ambitious strategy. They have provided a range of specialists and best practice advice, as well as leadership when required. The CMC team have fully integrated into the delivery capability of Ordnance Survey and I believe that they have always acted in our best interests.
Former Chief Financial Officer, Ordnance Survey

Your reshaping, rigour and implementation of the PMO and planning function has been first rate…and you leave us in a million % better place than when you joined.
Senior Manager, Ordnance Survey