Reducing risk & increasing agility: Helping LEAF to move to a more flexible and sustainable future

Client LEAF
Service areas Roadmapping
Consulting & digital transformation

Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) is a nonprofit which actively supports sustainable farming that’s engaged with education and local communities and enriches the environment.

What did we do?

LEAF came to Suru with a suite of legacy software platforms which were expensive to maintain, hard to change and no longer met their needs. The situation was actively hampering their sales team and their ability to respond to changes in the market.

SURU analysed and critically assessed the needs of the evolving organisation to establish where LEAF's existing technology platform would work well and where it would not meet the requirements. We then guided LEAF through a process of digital technology selection and implementation ensuring that their digital front of house was serving the needs of the membership organisation as well as establishing a programme of works to keep LEAF moving towards their ambitious growth and service goals.

Suru is a reliable partner leading us through digital transformation. This process has been well thought out, sensitive to budgetary constraints, well communicated, inclusive and — importantly — has included all key internal stakeholders.

Steve Jones, Chief Operating Officer

Getting the lay of the land

LEAF’s platform consisted of so many applications, protocols and vendors that no one person understood how it all worked. So, our first step was to research what their current system did, how it was structured and how people use its various parts.

By designing and leading a series of stakeholder interviews, joint process mapping sessions and service design work, we helped LEAF assess the current state of play and identify their core business needs. We helped stakeholders recognise the processes their teams actually run and uncover the links between various parts of the organisation which were not clear before Suru’s involvement.

This armed us with the knowledge we needed to unpick the web of systems and find out how the suite could start to be modernised without disrupting day to day operations.

We would then do another phase of research to find out what the business wants to achieve to identify the gap between today’s reality and their future vision. Because we started with research, the system requirements coming out of these sessions were grounded in user scenarios and staff members’ real jobs, not technical feature lists.

It's very useful and very reassuring that you started by talking to us and actually listening. It’s been great to find out what others teams do and where my work fits in with the rest of the business and this project.

Justine Hards, PR coordinator

Business case is key

Although we were working primarily with LEAF’s executive leadership, they made it clear that the board needed to understand a clearly- articulated business case. We worked with exec to put together and communicate the plan for replacing the systems that outlined the risks, the costs, the likely financial savings and the opportunities it unlocked.

This process helped the exec as much as the board. They gained an understanding of how to approach a digital transformation project with good governance, how to manage risk and how to think about and take advantage of new opportunities from digital.

Having been previously focussed only on single-vendor risk and license costs, they now recognised the operational improvements that were going to come from the project. Our early research in particular highlighted that LEAF’s teams don't trust the data in their existing systems and waste considerable time cross-referencing against multiple databases rather than letting the systems guide their processes.

Our early work with the executive, the board and the various teams involved built engagement and a shared understanding right across the organisation. Staff on the frontline said they felt confident that Suru gave them the right support to proactively guide them through the process.

Identified in cost reduction

Projected savings over five years as a result of the project, ignoring the value of new business opportunities or released staff time, and taking into account investment into new systems and the digital transformation project

Divide and conquer

Approaching this as a single, large project would have exposed LEAF to a lot of risk and operational disruption, so Suru developed a programme to split up the existing suite of technology such that smaller pieces could be independently upgraded without affecting other areas. It also set out how LEAF’s platforms would be modernised and made more flexible, giving them a foundation on which future development can be conducted at a greater pace, a key strategic goal as LEAF respond to the increasing rate of change of market they operate in.

Underpinning this programme was a system architecture which would give LEAF a suite of systems that's decoupled — quite unlike the systems they had before — meaning each piece can be independently maintained, upgraded or swapped out, mitigating the risk of another period of technology stagnation in years to come.

Where are we now?

At the time of writing, Suru continues to work with LEAF on the digital transformation programme that was conceived and planned through the work described above. Feel free to talk to us about how things are progressing — get in touch on email hidden; JavaScript is required

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