It may be that there is already an organisational decommissioning policy covering either a range of services (e.g. children services) or a specific service (such as Supporting People). The research found that there were common elements to all of these policies and good practice highlights the need to consider all of these when planning decommissioning regardless of whether or not there is a relevant decommissioning policy.
A robust project management approach to carrying out decommissioning is essential for its success. Respondents highlighted the range of good project and change tools that exist and that should be used, for example PRINCE2. Building on the business case mentioned previously, a Project Initiation Document is a useful place to start, which can then be used to develop a detailed project plan. The plan will need to factor in time for formal consultation with users or providers, informal initial meetings with providers and other stakeholders, formal notice periods of contracts ending, any extension of service given to providers, time for resolving contractual and technical issues such as building leases, TUPE, staff transfer, service user case transfer etc. In large complex cases, it will be necessary to build in extra time in the project plan as well as potential‘contingency’ time if the process faces any blockages.
It is essential that commissioners can access good project management skills either themselves or through colleagues or consultants. This is especially important for large and complex service decommissioning processes. Part of these skills will need to include change management knowledge – covering both the process of change but also the human aspect also. Change processes inherently give rise to potential feelings of anxiety and fear and commissioners should put in place mechanisms for dealing with these feelings in themselves and in other stakeholders.