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05-06-2023 | By Simon Kelso Justice

The Secret to a Successful Justice System Transformation

If we consider the statistics published in recent years, it is evident that a significant percentage of transformation initiatives within the justice system fail. We have all witnessed such shortcomings, and it's clear that many justice organisations and their project teams could improve their approaches to initiating and executing these essential transformations. 

Managing budgets, meeting deadlines, and delivering expected benefits are paramount. This is why it’s essential to take a "practical approach" to change management within the justice system. What does this entail? In simple terms, it involves simplifying processes and avoiding excessive complexity, all while keeping the focus squarely on the human aspect of change - supporting individuals on their transformative journey. Change should occur with stakeholders, not be imposed upon them. As stakeholders can encompass anyone interacting with your agency or tribunal, it's crucial to consider not only the staff but also the impact of change on managers, judges, and the community. 

The practical success of a transformation initiative within the justice system hinges on two critical elements: 

  1. Collaborative Engagement

Confidence in your change strategy starts with a deep understanding of the project and its objectives. What are the priorities around business transformation and system upgrades? What are the pivotal project milestones? How do you weave the right governance discipline into the project to ensure that your deliverables are achieved effectively? 

Once you have a holistic perspective of the project, it is time to identify potential obstacles to change and your key interested parties. The most effective way to obtain a realistic view of these challenges is through engagement with the individuals whose roles will be affected by the change. This may involve conducting workshops, hosting informal meetings, and shadowing them during their duties while asking questions. 

Here are some top tips for effective communication and data collection: 

  • Keep the interaction informal. Break up large groups and stimulate conversation by inviting individuals to 'walk you through' their concerns. 
  • Eliminate fear and jargon from discussions about change. Speak candidly and clearly. 
  • Engage by listening. Listening is the most crucial skill in any change manager's toolkit
  • Always approach individuals with information. Demonstrate that you have already conducted research by asking for validation of your understanding of their roles and the potential effects of the change.
  • Always approach individuals with information. Demonstrate that you have already conducted research by asking for validation of your understanding of their roles and the potential effects of the change.
  • Always verify your comprehension of the situation. It's much more challenging to gather feedback entirely from scratch than it is to present initial thoughts and request input. 
  • Never impose restrictions on questions or comments. Encourage people to trust their instincts. The initial thought is often the most accurate. What are their initial impressions of this change?
  • Consider the use of user experience professionals to capture and document various user requirements.

This approach is more likely to secure the commitment and involvement you seek from the systems interested parties. The result of this process will be an accurate impact assessment document. It serves as your guide for addressing user concerns, your checklist for mitigating resistance to change, and your action plan for steering the change in the deliverables and outcomes of the actual project. 

  1. Effective Information Sharing

Keeping lines of communication open and regularly providing updates, both positive and constructive, is essential for taking interested parties along on the journey of justice system transformation. A tailored approach that acknowledges different messages for different audiences ensures that each key group understands how the project affects their role. However, it's important not to overly segment your messages. It's crucial to connect all communications back to the broader picture. Although it's tempting to operate communications at an individual level, it is neither productive nor helpful. We want groups affected by the change to recognise how they will contribute to embedding the change in the long run. 

Consistent reinforcement is the cornerstone of change management. Whenever possible, conduct your research and create meaningful, straightforward, engaging, and beneficial messages upfront. This is all about addressing the present needs and linking them to your overarching objectives. Never forget why you initiated the change in the first place. 

Align your consistently reinforced messages with those of the interested parties and match them to the preferred communication channels for each audience. This creates a matrix that ensures you get the most value from the information you provide. 

Lastly, be prepared with candid answers for the inevitable question, "What's in it for me?" Perceptive individuals can spot a corporate line from miles away. 

Success Indicators

Measuring the success of transformation initiatives in the justice system has traditionally posed challenges. The aim is to identify signs that change has been successfully embedded over the long term. Software integration projects offer tangible benchmarks, such as assessing how effectively users have adapted to new tools and processes. Using the following three measures is an effective way of assessing and reporting the successful integration of change within a justice system: 

  1. User Adoption Surveys

Conduct anonymous surveys, typically before and after the change, to obtain honest feedback from stakeholders and users, whether they are internal or external to the organisation. This feedback pertains to the impact and success of the implementation. Utilise questions that require responses on a Likert scale or ratings, which allows you to benchmark future results against previous ones. 

  1. Benefits Realisation

All project plans should include a proposed benefits realisation schedule. This schedule must be closely linked to the initiative's objectives, be quantifiable, and tracked and reported at key project stages. For example, if you're introducing new software to streamline case management, like Ready Case, an identified key benefit might be a 25% reduction in processing time and costs. If the system or process is being used as intended, and the benefits are demonstrable, it's fair to say that the proposed change has been successfully integrated. 

  1. Issue Resolution

Allocate a specific period, perhaps the initial six months to a year, to review and analyse the types of software "user" issues being logged. Over time, the objective is to observe a reduction in recurring user issues. While issues may arise - a common occurrence with the introduction of new tools or processes - you should eventually witness a decline in the recurrence of these issues. This indicates that the change management component of the project has been successful, and your users are effectively embracing the change. 

In summary, the absence of discussion doesn't determine success. If nobody is talking about your change, they might be unaware of it. By adopting a practical approach to justice system transformation, integrating it into the project rather than adding it as an extra layer, simplifying the documentation, and treating all your participants with a client-centric approach, you maximise your project's chances of success.


To find out more about ReadyTech’s end-to-end case management solution, built specifically for the justice sector, go to