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HR in action: The General Medical Council has aligned HR with strategic priorities

Change programmes and e-HR are frequently boxed together, often with varying
degrees of success. The General Medical Council (GMC), however, is one
organisation that seems to have got things right. The UK’s regulatory body for
medical practitioners is going through a radical change programme, and has used
e-HR to align the function with strategic priorities, rather than push it to
the sideline.

"This was not simply about putting HR processes and knowledge
online," explains Diane Armour, council HR manager. "It was about
aligning HR with the new model for the GMC. Using the same toolset as that used
to support the business change means HR is fully integrated, rather than seen
as an add-on."

The GMC has been around since 1858. The past few years have seen it
introduce constitutional changes, a new model for ‘fitness to practice’
procedures (the way complaints against doctors are handled) and revalidation
(whereby every doctor practicing in the UK will need to meet certain standards
for continued registration).

The challenge of transforming an organisation with a strong legacy has been
no mean feat, according to Armour, who has been with the GMC for 15 years.

"The GMC’s structure, processes and communication have all changed. We
have also relocated some people from London to Manchester," she says.

To help implement its business transformation programme, the GMC harnessed
the Knowledge Map toolset from York-based Salamander Organisation, whose
clients include the Ministry of Defence, the Financial Services Authority and
delivery and logistics company, TNT.

Knowledge Map is an online software tool that gives users a route to all the
information and expertise they need to do their jobs. When an employee is
engaged in a particular process – such as writing a job description – they are
prompted to find all the information they need to complete the task to a
pre-agreed standard.

Knowledge Map fuses process and knowledge together, which means that any
documentation or forms needed by the employee to do the specific job can be
accessed through the system. As well as ensuring consistent practice across an
organisation, Knowledge Map can be tailored to support the objectives of the
company, and provides a mechanism to share ideas and collaborate on improving
the way the business works.

The toolset, which sits on the GMC’s intranet, has been used to define the
council’s new organisation architecture, capture knowledge and best practice,
and map processes. For example, in the ‘fitness to practice’ area, a Knowledge
Map has been used to translate the vision, challenges and opportunities into
best-practice processes and supporting knowledge resources.

"The maps are seen as a common way to define how the GMC operates –
both at a strategic and detailed level," says Armour. "Mapping HR
processes and knowledge in the same way as business-critical processes has
enabled the function to be totally in line with the new strategy and performance
goals for the GMC."

Choosing one consistent approach meant the GMC’s change programme is being
tackled as a whole across the organisation as the published Knowledge Maps
enabled everything to fit together. Motivation is improving as individuals are
able to see how their contribution fits as part of the bigger picture. And the
ability to challenge and get feedback online helps to foster collaboration and
information-sharing, despite the GMC now housed in two locations.

"The GMC recognised that people are key to successful business
transformation," says Salamander consultant Carolyn Ritchie. "From
the very first workshop, it was clear that people were keen to be involved and
wanted to share views and ways of working. Using the toolset to encourage
knowledge-sharing helped break down ‘silos’, so changing and shaping the

The HR Knowledge Map is now helping line managers become better people
managers, and is freeing HR professionals to focus on more value-adding work.

"The HR Knowledge Map is available 24-hours a day, and as with maps in
other areas, it is enabling skills transfer and training," says Armour.

"It is a robust but user-friendly format, and has eliminated the risk
of people using out-of-date documentation.

"Most importantly, HR is connected with the GMC priorities; that has to
be good for patients and doctors alike."

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