How is transformation defined? It is “the action of transforming, the operation by which one transforms, the resulting modification”. The 3 important elements here are: action, operation and result. For a qualitative transformation, an organization must ACT in a more or less conscious way, define and set up the PROCESSES and/or procedures, coordinate and measure the RESULTS.

Our team sought to find and analyze the common success keys to the transformation projects that have been entrusted to us in recent years..

A global or strategic transformation project WITHOUT the driving force from the Management is doomed to fail: let’s be honest from the start! Your Management must not only be aware of the project in question, but also follow it and find a strategic or tactical interest in it, even if it is different from the original objectives of the project. This means for a project manager to be able to ensure that the different objectives of ALL STAKEHOLDERS are taken into consideration.

1.  Start with the users

Many projects, such as the implementation of an IT solution, begin without asking the end users about the specifications of the tool. At best, before the “go-live”, it is necessary to start communicating about the arrival of a new product, then the users will participate in the training. But what about defining the specifications? Participation in design or specification workshops? Testing?

The best “guinea pigs” are the users themselves, and not the IT team that implements the new tool. Moreover, this is an essential step in change management since it allows them to become familiar with the solution well before the go-live: the fact that the end-users actively participate makes them actors and even “owners” of this solution and the flows that result from it.

2. What is the problem to be solved?

The Management rarely wakes up one morning and says “we have to change everything” (although…), it is often a long process during which everything has been done to avoid resorting to structural change. Maintaining and accelerating performance and competitiveness in the market requires revisiting the way the company operates. This need to transform can then be provoked by a new adaptation to the market, to the customers’ expectations, a regulation, the customers’ feedbacks, or employees’ feedbacks, etc. It is important for the justification of the project to keep the original history and to use it in the communication with the organization. It is also sometimes necessary to present the case study to the Management to justify the corresponding budget, and it becomes critical to explain the problem to be solved and its organizational impact. We do not give the same energy and attention to a full structural revamping that will benefit the whole company and improve the global cost/performance equation as we do with a “stone in the shoe” of a single department.

3. A change of paradigm

How many times have we, as employees, been pushed to use a new procedure that not only doesn’t solve our problems, but worse, creates new ones, or only caters to a portion of a company’s population and yet is applied to the entire organization? The world is full of conveniences that we like to get because they are shiny to our eyes, before we ask ourselves about their usage. Instead of buying features, let’s ask ourselves the right questions, think upstream about use cases and business needs – to be defined in the specifications document – and only then study the tools that meet those requirements, to validate the corresponding budget. This is a change of mindset in the way many companies operate. 

4. Quality vs Time vs Budget

These three elements form a triangle with a critical interdependence between them.

It is important for a project to be clear on the strategy to be applied:

We should expect to align the budget accordingly.

If we have to rush, we will probably have to accept a level of non-quality, sometimes even at a high cost!

It is possible with a certain budget.

Finally, almost everything is possible if we accept that the three points of the triangle evolve in relation to each other. With a little flexibility and imagination, we can find solutions.

5. Measure in a SMART way

When transforming, you need to know where you are starting from in order to determine the point of arrival. What is the current status? How big is the problem? How do we measure it? Then, we will be able to monitor the evolutions during the transition period (what is the rate of usage of a tool? what is the customer satisfaction? etc.), afterwards provide reports at the end of the project. Finally, the presentation of Return on Investment (ROI) to the Management will allow to validate the invested effort. Management guru Peter Drucker once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Many forms of measurement exist, the SMART method is excellent for defining KPIs: an indicator should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Temporally defined.

6. Supporting change

Many people think that training is enough to support the changes resulting from a new process or technology.  It is indeed a step in managing the transition, but often one of the last! It is critical to evaluate the efforts that will be necessary for the change depending on the organizational impact, and then to define the actions plan that will follow: the involvement of users according to their profile, level of responsibility, skills, availability and state of mind (we may prefer motivated people and leave out the naysayers, or on the contrary, we may want to train the diehards, the resistant ones, to convince them from the beginning…), and finally, communication & training. Do we need to organize “getting started” sessions, individual coaching? How can we ensure that the “newcomers” welcome guides are properly updated and that the access rights are managed accordingly? All these questions must be asked before or during the project.

7. Standardize the best practices

As a project progresses, the organization begins to change, new practices will emerge, and some will be better than others. It is imperative to detect and apply them to everyone, in order to homogenize practices and standardize the organization. It is also a good way to shine light on the employees who had this good idea and encourage feedback in the company! At the same time, this means that we cannot afford to launch a new product in the wild without monitoring its usage and the way it evolves over time…

8. Continuous improvement

The notion of Continuous Improvement is much abused, however it is not always implemented in organizations, because it requires significant efforts, especially at the human level. The idea that a project never ends is hardly acceptable. Indeed, once the implementation is completed, we wish to monitor its evolution in terms of uses, satisfaction, to keep an eye on “updates or upgrades” in terms of technology, and above all to introduce a loop that will continuously retrieve new needs to implement the following improvements. By integrating this process into the company’s culture, we will progressively allow to boost performance, reduce costs, optimize efficiency, productivity and profitability of the organization at different levels. A continuous improvement approach focuses of taking actions to eliminate non-quality, while reinforcing the elements that generate value. We commonly use the Deming wheel, Plan Do Check Act to pilot those.

Activeo‘s Business Transformation team specializes in supporting change and improvement initiatives around business processes related to or having a direct/indirect impact on the Customer Experience. We ask you the right questions to diagnose the problems, we help you to look for solutions, evaluate their feasibility, and finally, we accompany you in the steering and the implementation of the corresponding projects.

This article is brought to you by

Yolande Le Mercier, Country Manager, Activeo Suisse