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Case study: North Harbour Stadium up with the play

Not-for-profit organisation North Harbour Stadium recently produced an updated governance manual for the business’s operational, financial, planning and budgetary matters

Not-for-profit organisation North Harbour Stadium recently produced an updated governance manual for the business’s operational, financial, planning and budgetary matters.

North Harbour Stadium CEO, Brendon O’Connor, says the organisation felt it was timely to review the way it operates at a governance level. “We still have an established trust deed and the way our independent trustees are appointed hasn’t changed. But our updated governance manual outlines the executive responsibilities at an implementation level, the roles and responsibilities of the board of trustees, and where the demarcation is between policy, strategy and execution work,” he says.

The reasons for the review were twofold, he says. As well as changes in personnel at a trustee and executive level, the change to the governance of Auckland, whereby North Shore City no longer exists, impacted on North Harbour Stadium as a CCO (council controlled organisation).

“We’ve reviewed our strategic plan and, in doing so, identified key risks and opportunities, and we are preparing a five-year business plan. We’ve built up a strong institutional knowledge but many of our policies and procedures were recorded in an ad hoc manner, or not recorded at all,” says O’Connor. “We now have a 20-year maintenance plan, and we have set up trustee subcommittees where people with relevant skills help the executives on projects, if needed. We have also made key process explicit in an operational and financial planning context.”

As a trustee of North Harbour Stadium and director of Hayes Knight, Matthew Bellingham was instrumental in assisting with the new governance policy, says O’Connor.

“As a director of many client companies, Matthew has seen all manner of governance structures and his advice was invaluable. “We still have community objectives in our charter, and grounds and assets that we don’t charge for but we also have commercial goals and we must make a healthy surplus so as to maintain the assets. We’re operating with business disciplines and providing commercial and community services, and the disciplines around governance policy are important to our success.”

Other benefits include improved monthly financial reporting, and more timely and better presented information so the trustees can see how the organisation is tracking, for example, understanding its own margins properly. “We’re a diversified business in terms of revenue streams, and we provide some of our services at zero rate, so understanding what that’s costing us is important. In revisiting our governance procedures, we’re making explicit some of the processes that we run in the business, and planning further forward.”

This story originally appeared in Beyond the Numbers, issue two