Choices for a Change Management Methodology

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Why Project Change Transition Assures Sustainable Transformation

Why Project Change Transition Assures Sustainable Transformation

Project change transition or business transition is the secret weapon in delivering heavy-duty sustainable change. Business Transition refers to the change transition and project management transition activities that help to embed new processes born of the business transformation project and enables holistic change adoption. Change and Transition activities are dovetailed in a way that builds sustainable change.

The Transformation Transition Challenge

There are no two ways about it. Organisational change is challenging, just as much for SMEs as for large corporates, The upheaval and uncertainty exist in equal measure for both. Change Management Business Transition is an integral way to manage the risks inherent in embedding, persisting and adopting change across the board.

Change Readiness is crucial, of course for project delivery but it is the project transition function that ensures that the gauntlet of tasks and activities that validate operational readiness are planned, resourced and implemented. Transitioning IT projects is becoming more widely recognised as a critical process but in fact, most business transformation processes have elements of both IT and business change. The business transition process ensures that cutover and transition for both business and IT are extremely proactive, comprehensive and iterative to reduce the risks to business continuity and of deleterious disruptive impacts on people.

Business Transition Management and Operational Readiness

Business Transition or change transition is the process of facilitating a business shift from its current state to its next necessary state as defined by the business objectives, as seamlessly as possible with all constituent components in lockstep to deliver a full end to end solution for all of your people, the processes they manage and the technology and tools they use to do that. Business Transition is, therefore, the linchpin of implementing sustainable change. The ‘People’ Key Success Factor means that a fierce and unerring focus on how well people are catered for and managed is absolutely critical. Consequently, the function that leads this process, which is Business Transition Management, is also key Success Factor for successful and sustainable change. Change and Business Transition Leads never forget that the purpose of business change and transformation is to deliver something of greater value to people, for people, than what we started out with.

Business Transition Management needs to be integrated across all workstream deliverables to be highly effective and to manage readiness and cutover risk, including operational readiness as a risk management strategy for change design and implementation, the Target Operating Model, the output and integration of cross-functional and diverse teams as well as post-closure sustainability planning. 

Why Business Transition is a Key Success Factor for Successful Change Management

Successful change initiatives prioritise and integrate the business transition process through all workstreams with the goal of Day 1 Excellence on Implementation, Change Adoption, and Cutover.

  • Business Transition Embeds the Design of the Change

Business Transition is so important because it guides and focuses the design of change and processes for embedding around people, integration and transition elements from project inception to cutover to post-project closure. Business Transition perpetuates the benefits delivered and enables sustainability. 

As the Change Team is assembled, aligning actions to deliverables that constitute the target state requires the business transition function to bridge the gap between the as-is state and the desired to-be state.

  • The Business Transition Lead

The Business Transition Lead is a problem resolver, removing obstacles like and remediating conflict and ameliorating toxicity arising in teams or with team leader-team dynamics. They ensure alignment between the objectives of your business’s change initiatives and the values of your brand, ensuring that the change does not create impacts that are negative to the brand’s perception. The Transition Lead ensures that blame and siloed working and thinking do not become endemic due to its focus on people and enabling Day 1 excellence in their ability to perform and thrive in their work.

They ensure that operational and collaborative prerequisites – knowledge, data, skills, people and environments – are in the right place at the right time, through operational readiness planning and rehearsals, identifying the gaps in skills and knowledge of individuals, teams and functions as well as the need for knowledge transfer, upskilling and training.

User privileges and accesses and system and data roles must be defined and implemented across the board and tested and transitioned. The testing of all component integration takes place during Dress Rehearsals.

  • Knowledge Management and Transfer – The Target Operating Model to Business-as-Usual

Business Transition Management operationalises the Target Operating Model, under control, in the pre-production environment, tests and proves it through several iterations to optimise operational readiness. 

The Transition Plan will include a Knowledge and Skills Transfer section as well as Dependencies and timelines to guide the transition and cutover to production.

It is necessary to capture, document, codify and store the knowledge that is necessary for the TOM BAU from suppliers, the change teams and within the organisation. 

Capture the Change with a Target Operating Model

If you are changing the way your business functions and ways of working, you need a Target Operating Model (TOM), that depicts a future state (the To-Be, i.e. Target Operating Mode)l that your business will be moving to for its future goals, presented in the context of the As-Is, i.e current Operating Model.

The Target operating model provides a standard and integrated view of the business, aligning operating and functional structures with strategic business objectives for the business’s people, processes, technologies and tools. It will show all the interactions, integrations, roles, responsibilities and handoffs across functions and lines of business.

The target operating model is the embodiment of the structures that will facilitate the desired change and drives it by capturing and modelling the proposed new ways of working in a visible way. It represents the best organisation across people, processes and technology that your business should adopt to meet your business goals of survival, growth and supremacy in your sector, and can be shown at several levels for different audiences in the organisation from a conceptual level, all the way to very detailed process designs that show handoffs, interdependencies/interfaces and functional and role level interactions. It is a powerful tool for depicting different perspectives of the organisation that should elicit incisive questions on the suitability of the planned TOM and form a touchpoint and focus for discussing how the change will really look.

Transition, Cutover and Post Closure Activities – Planning for Sustainability

Sustainability planning can be put another way – planning that makes change stick and truly requires and depends on long term vision and willingness to build change capability into the business and should begin at the start of the change process. It also requires a recognition that the current change is unlikely to be the last and a willingness to invest in an infrastructure that can drive change and continuous improvement going forward.

This helps in several ways, not least helping your business to be more responsive to change, more agile and increasingly innovative.

Successful change initiatives will contribute to instituting a change structure and that change structure is more likely to lead to further successes as more change projects are undertaken as needed.

It is customary to create detailed project plans but there must equally detailed plans for post-closure activities that assure the implemented changes and supporting are further embedded and persisted. There must be clear activities and responsibilities and dates and durations for each activity plus a mechanism for capturing and communicating the issues and ideas to the right people.

7 Key Factors of Sustainable Change

The Key Factors of Sustainable Change

Naturally, we’d need to take a long term and wide-ranging view of the outcomes and purpose of a change management program, so knowing the key factors of sustainable change is crucial. Let’s keep in mind the most common very high-level reasons change management is undertaken:

  • strategic alignment (business objectives and how we get there so we can ‘boss’ our category)
  • benefits realisation (change drivers, problem statement – all the things we do not do well, that we fail at and that we need to start doing better and all the things we want to be able to do, now and in the future)
  • sustainable change (how we achieve our business objectives and keep getting the benefits but also be structured to make new changes at scale and pace and continue to improve)

In other words, do better, compete stronger, sell more, have a favourable and high profile and lead in our sector – all the things businesses want and need to do. But far too many don’t get there. Far too many fall over. It all gets too complicated, focuses on the wrong things and that’s a shame. The following article is lengthy, although I may break it into 7 separate articles for each area at some stage, but this is not a topic I plan to take a bite-sized approach to. It should all be known, so it all needs to be said.

The purpose of business transformation is to enable optimised business performance and human capability so the transformation process must deliver that. Clarity on the factors that increase this likelihood is highly beneficial. Implementation’ describes the phase of enacting the changes scoped, planned and created within a business and implies an embedding but embedding is not complete without adoption. Adoption must be persisted which means that the change is actually implemented rather than just installed. For this to be true, behaviours, attitudes, processes etc must be modified enduringly, through all the interdependent elements of the change management process, to get the necessary buy-in from savvy sponsors, engaged employees and functions who will protect the brand standards.

 

Why you need a framework that ensures the change delivered will be sustainable

If as Change professionals, we get to the end of our implementation and

  • we have left people behind, or they leave us in spirit or otherwise
  • the technology we have invested in and implemented is not utilised to its fullest extent by all of its target user groups
  • our overall culture is not improved and the key prongs of change are not fully adopted
  • we do not have day one excellence in people transition, system and tool adoption, and clarity on what they need to do, how to do it and how to remediate,

the change and benefits delivered are NOT sustainable, and we have manifestly FAILED.

Chinenye Ikwuemesi

 

The backdrop to this is that the absolute failure rates for change programs are staggering, over 70% fail.  However, as the requirement for, and rate of change continue to go up, change management is a far more frequent exercise than not for businesses who want to stay on top. So it’s definitely worth understanding the factors that make success more likely, especially for smaller companies and professional services firms, whose businesses may possess some built-in advantages, if the pitfalls are clear.

The right framework integrates the key factors of sustainable change, helps with embedding systems and processes as well as the behaviours and actions of your people. Make no mistake – this is the brass ring. Change equals new operations, systems and processes but sometimes also entail massive upheaval for people like restructuring, merging and new organisational design that means significant and stressful people changes. I do not want to gloss over this and you shouldn’t want me to.

Ok, so we need to accept that change is pretty much unavoidable but we along with that also must accept that with full-scale transformations, the people side of this process must be prioritised, especially if your business is smart enough to consider your employees as the assets they are and can be. This is because some of the all-time biggest reasons for the failure of change projects are to do with people -a) resistance to change b) badly managed people change c) no specific, focused business transition management d) toxicity arising in relationships or environments.

People! It is absolutely vital to prioritise people and get them on board. You need them engaged, invested both rationally and on an emotionally. Change that can be sustained is very rarely imposed on people with agency. You have heard this before, but how do you do it and why does it matter?

How?

It’s a series of actions across the dimensions outlined below that together accomplish this important goal, not a single step. You can’t do it without vision, but you do not get that without a leader and he cannot sell it if he is not accountable or communicating with people or without an end to end business transition plan . People are central to the process but without the right motivations and mobilisation and a clear and common view of the vision and the role they play, it’s a non-starter.

It matters

Successfully managing change is predicated on putting together strategy, structure, processes and infrastructure to move people, with their consent and participation with vision, clear messaging and communication to a desirable outcome – the gain of something or the avoidance of something or both. If anything in the chain of any of these critical dimensions fails, everything breaks down. A really good example of when a communication breakdown led to other systemic disintegrations in, that does not demand a business hat or experience to understand, is what happened when the British Government varied their message and slogan as well as arguably behaviours that they expected during the COVID19 crisis and how this changed the rates of adherence to societally accepted norms of lockdown etiquette. An almost wholesale breaking of lockdown and widespread risky behaviours that endangered everybody and created disruption. The primary goal was to do with people and modifying their behaviour so that new processes and new IT could be adopted and work. Likewise, if your organisation manages to deliver the non-people elements of change but leaves people behind, it is indisputable that the change exercise has failed.

1. Visionary Leadership

Leaders are responsible for so much, not least many of the other factors on the list, so it not surprising that they are the top key factor of sustainable change. They are responsible for articulating the vision, objectives as well as the strategy for attaining them and for making sure all transitional activities are detailed and focused on engaging people and driving participation and commitment. Leaders are the central function that blends and catalyses the key factors of sustainable change management so that the assurance of benefits delivery has a centrally positioned and powerful champion.

The main purpose that all the leaders of change have is to anticipate and have a plan for countering, mitigating or ameliorating the responses that employees of the business are going to have to change. Empathy is critical as is a commitment to making this process as thoughtful as possible. Implementing sustainable change is tough so it needs to be worth it and it’s got to stick.  How you can make it stick in a positive and favourable way should be an upfront consideration. There are themes around motivation, integration, mobilisation and innovation with making change stick but it all starts with leadership. The right leader to champion and push and never lose sight of what the promised land looks like.

Leadership’s Transformative Change Opportunity for People Empowerment

Visionary leadership is a key factor of sustainable change but leadership in this context isn’t just owners/directors who commission the change but will in time include your members of the Change Management Team, Program/Project Managers plus senior change agents including but not limited to the programme executives/board/steering committees. These change teams along with primary leadership – owners, directors – should ensure that change teams reinforce the necessity of change and communicate the components of change.

Transformation is an opportunity for fostering innovation and teams that are fitted and empowered to attempt innovative ways of doing things but this needs to be a goal and cannot occur as a side effect. To make this a possibility, the way that employees are treated and engaged throughout the process is a huge dependency. Because the sheer necessity of transformation does not preclude it from being a traumatic process, leaders need to be visible, available, empathetic, accessible, in control but collaborative and must obtain buy-in not just from senior management but also employees. The leader’s job is to help to shape and manage prevailing attitudes to change and create useful and reasonable counters to fear and resistance to change. Leaders should be kind and they need to listen.

  • Enabling ABC – Attitudes, Behaviours and Collaboration

Leaders are responsible for enabling the behaviour that not only that allows the change to happen but also that will constitute and support the changes the change process is supposed to embed. Change management as a discipline reminds us that change is about managing people and their responses as they go through changes that have the potential to be highly impactful to them, and change management focuses on behaviours. It’s necessary that the leader (s) ensure that the levels at which behaviour change must happen are planned, resourced for and enabled through the business transition, from changing the target operating models, redesigning processes, changing roles, responsibilities and descriptions, etc. 

Attitudes to the coming change and participating in it can really be shaped by the messaging and stance taken by the leadership. Empowering teams to collaborate can create greater transparency and efficiencies throughout the process, reduces rework and Chinese whispers as the right people are privy to information as soon as it is relevant, rather than hearing it too late and receiving an erroneous reinterpretation.

  •  Vision

What does the vision need to have and do to be useful? It should be clearly and vividly articulated vision of the required changes and their fundamental dimensions. The conviction and commitment of leaders will create the necessary drives to modify behaviours and people. 

Why vision?  Without vision, a vacuum arises into which chaos, confusion and variegation of objectives can take root. With vision, a story and a picture of required and desired outcomes can be shared. With vision, comes optimism and positivity that will help to mobilise and motivate employees and will help to engender engagement and support, which are necessary. The leader has to ensure that this vision of the future state is well communicated and shared by people in the organisation. The next important piece is organisation architecture and target operating model that enables continuous improvement and innovation ecosystems.

  • Motivation

Motivation, as anybody who has ever lacked it knows, can be a great catalyst and makes momentum and maintaining focus easier. Properly managing the human side of change ensures that thought is given to how people can be motivated and supported to generate buy-in and engagement. Include communications and activities that support these in the change plans. Great leadership and a compelling vision, of course, helps with this. Employees who are motivated will be more effective and productive and will lubricate the transitional rails as it is easier to have a shared sense of responsibility. 

  • Human Side Agenda Change Management

Make your people co-creators of change to make it sustainable and motivate them as such, both through political (new responsibilities), monetary (promotion, pay increase) and psychological (incentives) means. Their experience and involvement in the process of change are a leading KPI.

  • Engaging all areas of involvement in the change 

Through events, seminars, talks and break out meetings, presenting the change and giving an opportunity for feedback, engage all areas of involvement and any who are impacted, as this helps to ensure employees are part of the planning and transition strategies. This helps to increase participation, valuable procedural information and unstinting knowledge transfer, all of which actively combat fear and resistance to change.

  • Communication

As can be imagined, communication must be integral, running through and powering all of the other factors, from vision to post-closure sustainability activities. The other key factors of sustainable change do not get locked in without the leader and a solid, strategic communications plan. As evangelists of the change, the leader and other leaders he delegates authority to must be excellent and prolific communicators. They will need a detailed plan for engaging with all employees impacted by the change to hear and answer queries and concerns and take on board suggestions, which will help them receive instant feedback on how aspects of the change are landing and allow the opportunity to clear up any rumours and confusion. It allows a much more collaborative approach and avoids the impression of imposition.

2. Alignment of Change Strategies to Business and Brand Strategies 

While you will find numerous articles and ideas on these popular subjects of how to ‘do’ change successfully and do it sustainably, the brand dimension to change is unique to me and it is why my particular change management focus and passion is on Business Transition Management, Cutover Excellence and Key Success Factors for Business Change Adoption and Implementation. Focus on the brand helps to align minds and methods to the protection of the brand at a minimum and to its elevation if opportunities are available. The very fact of paying attention to the brand dimension means that the change teams and employees are alive to opportunities for innovation as well as risks to reputation.

  • Brand Reputation Protection

As there is no greater reason for the drive for sustainable change than growing, solidifying and maintaining a brand, knowing and deploying the key factors of sustainable change should be underpinned by brand considerations. The strategy must include and allow long term thinking and strategies for inculcating change capability to absorb, adopt and deploy change as necessary within the organisation. This safeguards your brand. Yes, sustainable change safeguards your brand, and therefore knowing and implementing the key factors of sustainable change is so important. Change is an opportunity to do things better and move into different modes and markets but it is change, and as such represents a major risk to the continuity of your business and to your brand’s reputation if continuity, quality or reliability is in any way affected. Manage Business As Usual (BAU) and the transition and cutover to the target state with extreme care with regard to the disruption and new operations of your company.

Your Brand Strategy and Change

Paying attention to the brand dimension of change means that consideration is given to how things change for the customers of the organisation. The goal should be that it changes as little as possible for them, otherwise, you would need in some way to bring them into the change management process/narrative/messaging, which would need to be extremely well targeted, clear and consistent.

When change management strays too far from the brand strategy, the brand risks losing resonance and authenticity and it is easy to be ridiculed. When change is not managed well, you do risk damage to the brand perception and reputation, A good example is when people leave an organisation in numbers and with negative reports or the organisation suddenly retrenches or changes how customers access services without sufficient warning or training. This puts some focus on the Employee Experience of change which as a key factor of sustainable change is also a key success factor and element of cutover excellence.

  • Brand Purpose and Principles as part of Change Governance

As we pilot and manage the change that your business needs, we must consider and inculcate in practices and outcomes, all that your business says it stands for, what its purpose is and the guidelines and ethics by which it does business to ensure that the transformation process and ethics do not contravene these. Leaders should appoint a transitional lead that is squarely focused on protecting and maintaining brand standards, along with contributory customer experience and employer experience.

During a business transformation, when so much upheaval exists and so much is being overhauled to revisit your business’s brand purpose and principles and ensure they are still valid and explore if they do require an enhancement or extension. It makes sense to examine and identify any parts of the transformation affects your brand’s perception and positioning. The overarching question that should always be asked while reviewing the objectives and implementation plans is whether your company will still be able to keep your brand’s promise, in the way your customers desire and expect? A connection must exist and be established to brand purpose and objectives through aligning transformation strategies to long term brand strategy, in order to protect brand reputation.

Mapping Actions to your Brand’s Promise

This is done by mapping change drivers and desired outcomes to brand strategy and principles and mapping change streams to how they better help to deliver the brand’s promise through all levels of the customer journey and experience. There should be clarity on whether and where there are changes to these and ensure that the TOM addresses and optimises this process. It’s very common in transformation projects to just take an insular view of the transformation required and not only lose sight of the customer and any change impacts to them but also the employees.

3. Skilled Change Management Expertise, Tools and Frameworks

With something as integral and important to the future performance and survival of your company as change, it makes sense to get the right people. Whether the change is for a functional area or business unit or more, the right people will know, understand and be able to deploy the tools and frameworks to make the required transitions. Whatever that change is that you decide to undertake, you will need people to help you manage this change of your functional area or business unit that have, understand and can deploy tools and frameworks required to make the required transition. Business Transition is fraught with risks and the risks arise out of the various change components stakeholder management, resources, people and resistance to change and ultimately management of the risks themselves.

  • Holistic Stakeholder and People Management

People, their feelings and attitudes about change are central to the efficacy with which that change management can be carried out and ultimately, to its sustainability. Change is never successful without the buy-in, support and facilitation of people who are customers of your change. Stakeholder management allows us to group and control for the impact of change, power in the process and how much communication and attention leaders therefore ultimately need to expend on them. However, a primary stakeholder strategy must flow from beyond the stakeholder management plan. It must emanate from the business transition management plan in the strategies that it employs in integrating users and all those impacted right from the inception of the program. Stakeholder Management, especially in the context of the Employee Experience is an absolutely critical factor of sustainable change.

  • Resources, Risk and Dependency Management

Resource Management

It is well recognised that one of the main factors of failure of change programs has to do with resources – the lack of resources, the inadequacy of resources, the mismanagement of resources which can be just as devastating as the first two, having the wrong mix of resources or misunderstanding where they can best add value.

What are Resources?
Resources are your people/staff first and foremost – naturally, nothing else can be started or done without them and the change program’s integral dependencies are on the actions that people have to take for things to happen. Other resources are space to accommodate people who are not part of the BAU collateral, such as implementation partners, analysts, developers etc, the budget for hiring people and buying in the other resources, developing and implementing the solutions, like tools, software, technology, hardware, architecture, peripherals etc. Sounds simple, right? Not always. A good example of this – I once took over a program where all the stakeholders who needed to see our projects plans on MS project, didn’t have the licenses for it rolled out and resource requirement was not on a dependency list anywhere…. and yet, the program plans lived in MS Project and they needed access to the plans to scrutinise, challenge and prepare! All these necessary resources need to be available as needed which means being planned for to get that availability. It means that planning and identification of resources and smart estimates of when they may be required are necessary. Dependency management discussed below, is a key part resource message and as such, of the change management toolset.’

Resource Challenge Summary

As noted above, human resources are the most important link in the resource chain. Change leaders must ensure that the right people have are available throughout the project post-closure period to persist and assure the transformations that significant sums are spent to deliver. There are significant challenges, for instance, surrounding the availability of resources to continue to persist change post-implementation, especially when these resources have a separate BAU role. If their time and use of their expertise isn’t planned for and accounted for in the original change architecture, this obviously creates pitfalls. Business and people transition plans must include teams who have responsibility for benefits delivery and sustainability. People may need to be seconded from other teams or hired for the specific processes, operations and systems that either run a function or that assure the proper working of that function.

Risks and Dependency Management

Dependencies, risks and issues will affect a range of phases and projects, in a program and may arise through means internal to the project or external to it. They can be very complex and numerous as a result and require organisation, often where the PMO – the Project Management office function is extremely valuable.

Interlock

Interlock defines the process by which the owner of a dependency and those who are beneficiaries and receivers of the dependency being in place agree the definitions, dimensions and timings of the delivery of a dependency. The interlock process allows granularity, transparency and better tracking of dependencies which is critical for avoiding risks, understanding the scale and impacts of obstacles and embedding accountability. In any change project at all, there will be numerous dependencies both internal and external, and large transformation programs have a higher order of magnitude with regards to dependencies and risks. Likewise, risks must be clearly defined with clarity against areas of impact and significance, priority, with owners of it and contributors to the resolution or mitigation. Risks must be aggressively tracked, and once they become issues, must be escalated. Dependencies risks and issues can be tracked and managed with the help of any a number of tools which makes it easier to see, update and report the status of each on a frequent and proactive basis but there should be a standardised process for doing so, agreed at the outset of the project. A clear agreed and common view of all dependencies must exist and be updated through change governance and tracking processes. This helps to reduce slippages, operational and functional gaps and reduces blame, especially important when cultural aspects form a key part of change drivers.

  • Change Processes, Measures and Tracking

It’s worth noting that these processes help with all of the primary responsibilities that the leadership have by helping track against the vision, stakeholder management and as a result, helping accountability. Measurement of process, progress and transitional elements and the program’s capital and revenue expenditures. Constant scrutiny and review of these metrics enables proactive corrections,  and progress against objectives.

  • Communication

While we have discussed communications above, it is worth mentioning it as part of the skills and expertise change professionals need to employ to achieve progress, solve problems and keep risks and issues top of mind amongst program stakeholders. Communication is a constant component of the ongoing process of managing change. The urgency and clarity on motivations and actions mapped to them arise from the change management communication actions through directing the projects, governance and of course reporting. 

The role of communication is integral and powers all of the other factors, from vision to post-closure sustainability activities. The change leaders need to be excellent and consistent communicators. As evangelists of the change, they need a detailed plan for engaging with all employees impacted by the change to hear and answer queries and concerns and take on board suggestions. This also helps leaders have instant feedback on how aspects of the change are landing and allow the opportunity to clear up any rumours and confusion. It allows a much more collaborative approach and avoids the impression of imposition.

4. Business Transition Management

For me, Business Transition has at its forefront, the obsession with people – we make the change ultimately so that people can do their jobs better and take our business to the next level – so it’s for people. People must feel valued and engaged with, throughout the process. As a people person, that is undoubtedly what draws me to it. I never, ever forget that we must deliver something valuable and fit our people to take advantage of, and be an extension and even core dimension of that value.

Why business transition is indispensable, and why with it, success is inevitable

Change initiatives that do not prioritise and highlight and integrate the business transition process through all threads and workstreams have yet to commit to success and sustainable change. It cannot be done without.

  • Transition and the Design of change

Business Transition ensures that the Change Design is focused on people, integration and transition elements from project inception to cutover to post-project closure. Business Transition outlives the project itself, as a construct and continues to ensure that the benefits created and delivered by the change project are absolutely sustainable and that the capabilities created are extensible.

With the vision shared and communicated and a change team being assembled, there will be a process of making and matching actions and deliverables to the target state, which will mean there is necessarily a gap between what is the envisioned and desired target state and the existing operating model, with its shortcomings, risks and problems. Business Transition is the process of moving the business from where it currently is to where it needs to be as seamlessly as possible with all the constituent components in lockstep to deliver a full end to end solution for all of your people, the processes they manage and the technology and tools they use to do that. Business Transition is therefore the linchpin of implementing sustainable change

It encompasses and should be integrated across all workstream deliverables to be highly effective and manage readiness and cutover risk. This includes operational readiness which is a fundamental risk management strategy for change design and implementation, the TOM, the output and integration of cross-functional and diverse teams as well as post-closure sustainability planning. BTM functions as a problem resolver, removing obstacles like conflict or spotting and working to ameliorate toxicity arising in teams or with team leader-team dynamics. It helps to ensure that back covering and blame is not the order of the day because of its unerring focus on Day 1 excellence.

  • Knowledge Management and Transfer

A good way to think about transition is that the project builds a shell of a house, plasters and ensures there is paint and some core infrastructure – for example, a repository for data, platforms, tools and technology and of course the users, the occupants of the house. Business transition delivers the connections between the parts of the infrastructure and also exhaustively tests the integrations between the services and the people who pull or push switches. This requires putting pre-requisites in place or ensuring they are in place – knowledge, data, skills. All critical services that make the house habitable, seamlessly secure, safe and delightful.

Part of this process is identifying the gaps in skills and knowledge of individuals, teams and functions. If operations have been moved or transposed, it needs to be identified that knowledge transfer, upskilling and training are necessary, and then they need to be delivered. User privileges and accesses and system and data roles must be defined and implemented across the board and tested and transitioned. The testing of all component integration takes place during Dress Rehearsals.

TOM to BAU – The Target Operating Model to Business-as-Usual

Skills transfer can be team to team or from the change team to BAU employees, achieved through information seminars and training.

One key deliverable of Business Transition Management is a Knowledge and Skills Transfer plan which informs all stakeholders the full scope of what is planned and when it will take place and whom the participants of each phase need to be. A lack of knowledge and a plan for getting it, during change process can cause anxiety. It is necessary to capture, document, codify and store the knowledge that is necessary for the TOM BAU from suppliers, the change teams and within the organisation. A plan must have parts dealing with disseminating and using this knowledge. A clear view of what the current situation looks like and all that needs to be documented and prepared for is critical. The number of moving parts to make this happen illustrate why business transition is an absolutely key factor of sustainable change, that is quite often overlooked or implemented only thinly. 

  • Business Transition Plan – a Multi-layer of View of the Journey to Cutover … and Beyond

A Transition Plan is necessary to plan, communicate and manage the transition activities requiring coordination and integration as it can be destabilising and disruptive to business as usual. One fundamental purpose of Transition is to safeguard BAU As-Is continuity until parts of the To-Be process are fully ready to be cutover finally and fully over to the organisation’s new state. The transition plan will communicate the timelines of transition, the transition components threads/workstreams/capability like ‘new reporting platform, data dictionary, teams, individual processes’ etc.

5. Diverse Cross-Functional Teams

Lip service is increasingly paid to diversity and inclusion, but a look at the company profiles show that the diversity rates have not changed very much over time in several sectors. This shouldn’t be controversial, but it is in some quarters however anyone looking for a sustainable change should want to know that there is actually power in diversity and that you need to harness that. We know that business transformation change programs fail an awful lot and a lack of inclusivity in the leadership, process and change agents is a key reason. While paying lip service to the idea of inclusivity, most – 97% -fortune 500 companies decline to share their diversity data, hardly indicative of diversity levels to be proud of and worldwide, C-suite leadership are still extremely homogenous being predominantly white, male and from very similar backgrounds, education and networks.

  • The power of Diversity 

McKinsey found that companies with higher diversity profiles outperform those with lower diversity by 15%. When you consider that diversity is still relatively low overall that is striking. While you may not have the diversity you may aspire to yet, the change management process is a great opportunity to get the benefits of diversity in your change program. I believe strongly in the increased value that can come through having a diverse team, that pulls in a proper mix of people across races, backgrounds, personalities and approaches and the creativity and innovation that you get from that. If you really want to push the envelope, ensure diversity at the top levels of your change leadership because inclusion at the top shapes the power of diversity in the organisation.

  • Intentional Inclusion

It’s instructive that the profile of the top leadership in many of the leading management consultancies with a few exceptions has barely changed in the past 70 years. It may be that achieving sustainable change with organisations who have not been able to change themselves in a century is perhaps problematic. The homogeneity at the top will tend to colour a lot of the output at the lower levels. It makes sense to seek out implementation partners that demonstrably value diversity and inclusivity. When there isn’t a commitment to this, it creates long term problems, so it does pay dividends to consider diversity a key factor of sustainable change.

Diversity Now

Even when a business may recognise that there will be value to be driven from a more diverse team, they may not have the capacity in the immediate term to resource a change management team, and this is one important area in which a change and implementation partner can be of help, especially one that really is intentional about diversity in hiring and building diverse teams. Beyond that, a business transformation process is a great opportunity to create and foster a culture that values and grafts in people from a more diverse background, both from a background perspective but also from a socio-ethnic one because it has been proven this can lead to stronger business performance.

A culture that values inclusivity is more likely to learn lessons and make gains in paying attention to diverse and less authoritative voices when managing change resistance and the feedback loop.

The Pursuit of the People in the Margins

Inclusivity is also a strong concept on its own. It’s about recognising that our teams are made up of, and enriched by different kinds of people in terms of temperament, presentation, personality and confidence. People who are introverts or naturally quite quiet, for example, must still be heard. They have valid and relevant experiences and contributions that we should want to hear. It is very easy to just listen to those who will speak up and have the confidence to complain, but we really also need to seek out those who do not. In making large scale changes in your organisation, it’s necessary to hear all voices.

  • Empowered teams with innovation and continuous improvement frameworks.

What’s the big idea? Well, a better question is apparently where is the big idea? Good strong performant teams are responsible for great ideas, according to this Wall Street Journal article, excellent article, not only conceptually but in implementation methods, leading to improvements and innovation, exactly what you want some of in a change program. As recognised above, great leadership in this, or any context especially with the diversity dimension must foster the right attitudes and empower the right behaviours. This is nowhere more important than on teams. The leaders need to show that they value the people in the team, their differences in what they bring to the table, and enable them to innovate.

  • Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-functional project teams are constituted of members of the project who have been assembled for the sole purpose of delivering the sought outcomes of the project, from within the business as subject matter experts in their functional areas, as well as external people like business analysts, modellers. developers and data, data scientists, testers, workstream leads, trainers etc. They all, of course, are working towards the same established goals and usually represent not just a mix of skills but also of experience in years and seniority. The teams are usually grouped per workstream and directed by the project manager in charge of a particular workstream, with tasks assigned in delivering a particular element of a ‘sprint’ for example, on an Agile project.

Cross-functional teams help to reduce friction in projects through constant collaboration, integration and time taken to discuss problems and make decisions. Diversity and inclusion of cross-functional teams are key factors of sustainable change because people are more likely to be creative and innovative.

  • Reducing Blame Culture and Toxicity

Toxicity. Ugly but it happens and it can really derail things. Awareness and proactiveness go a long way for avoidance and mitigation. In a recent article in Fast Company, Meghan E Butler explores the causes and impacts of a toxic work environment, highlighting that leaders trying to deal with chronic stress, avoiding conflict and not rising above office politics can allow the poisoning of bullying and…. to flourish and create a toxic work culture. Too often, this can arise from some of the leaders of the change who seek to lead by diktat and believe fear, pitting people against each other and having a hierarchy of staff who are in with him and those who aren’t can motivate both sides of the equation to bring their best to the table. Leaders – CEOs, directors and business sponsors must be made aware that this is a credible and highly likely risk and be ready to implement teams in ways that reduce this risk and have a plan to deal with toxicity within the project environment.

People should be empowered to report inappropriate conduct, both from leaders and team members and must believe that action will be taken, or it reduces willingness to expose themselves for what may be perceived as for no good reason.

Problematic working situations could easily take hold in a project where people are thrown together with no clarity on roles, responsibility, limited transparency and conflicting directives, and also where diversity and inclusion are not a stated and intentional objective of the team. This also means that you must be ready in case the problem arises within the ranks of leadership. Honesty, respect, integration plus clear and accepted norms that everybody needs to abide by in the same way plus behaviour that aids and supports inclusivity is necessary. Butler recommends the SCARF model for dealing with a toxic environment when it arises but it can also be very useful in planning team norms and guiding principles that can help head off some problems and help leaders to be proactive about people showing certain propensities without being judgemental.

6. Target Operating Models and Business Architecture

 

The fifth key factor of sustainable change is the Target Operating Model and associated business architecture because it stands to reason that for the ability to grow and meet your strategic objectives, you need to map and implement a structure that will enable and support that. The Target Operating Model (TOM) depicts a future state that your business will be moving to for its future goals and is often presented in the context of the As-Is Target Operating Model.

The TOM is the shape of the Change

The target operating model drives change because it is literally the shape of the change, the embodiment of the structures that will facilitate the strategy. There is no sustainable change without it because it represents the best organisation your business must adopt across its people, process and technology to meet your business goals of survival, growth and supremacy in your sector. The TOM will need to be graduated for different audiences in the organisation from a conceptual level, all the way to very detailed process designs that show handoffs, interdependencies/interfaces and functional and role level interactions. It is a powerful tool for depicting different perspectives of the organisation that should elicit incisive questions on the suitability of the planned TOM and form a touchpoint and focus for discussing how the change will really look and whether it is viable and can be made to ‘stick.’ The TOM will need to be developed graduated levels of detail in concert with the various business areas, be presented, walked through and agreed. Because a TOM is used to address a wide range of strategies across the organisation, eventually all people in the organisation will need to be privy to the TOM and where and how their role and function fits into the value chain for the future of the business.

The Target operating model provides a standard and integrated view of the business, aligning operating and functional structures with strategic business objectives for the business’s people, processes, technologies and tools. It will show all the interactions, integrations, roles, responsibilities and handoffs across functions and lines of business.

  • Target Ops Model Design and Implementation

If the purpose of business transformation is to leverage technological advances in the industry and rearrange your business to compete better and grow, an adequate business architecture and capability underpinned by the operating model. Your business capability can be optimised by your business architecture in order to attain your strategic objectives. Operating Model design ensures that the necessary capabilities are identified, roles created and instituted and integrated at the requisite levels across the organisation to allow the business to operate in optimised process flows that will facilitate success.

  • Operating Model Considerations

Current State Operating Model Review

Review functions and process at the business division level, roles and responsibilities and identify the capabilities required across people, tools, process, technology, infrastructure and data to meet them.

As-is Operating Model Review for strengths, weakness and gap analyses to highlight where problems exist, what the root causes are and generate options for resolving issues which can be used as a baseline for designing the To-Be Operating Model.

As well as a core alignment process that needs to take place, you need to assess a bunch of elemental dimensions that will assure the engineering of roles and procedure, specifically scope – areas of involvement, skills required versus what is in place, identify opportunities and necessity for standardisation and candidates for custom procedures and exceptions.

Business Case and Objectives and Gap Analyses

It will be necessary to access and quantify the gaps between what exists and what needs to be created.

Develop Operating Models at Levels 1, 2 and 3

Agree templates and level of detail in supporting documents like SOPs, standard operating procedures 

Map Functional Objectives for each area to process steps and actions.

7. Sustainability Planning

This part of the process is the part that truly requires long term vision and a willingness to build capacity for change into the organisation, and is why sustainability planning is a key factor of sustainable change. It involves recognition, at the outset of the change program that the change your business is now going through is unlikely to stop here and requires an investment in a change capability and infrastructure at some level within your organisation to enable your business to adapt to change as necessary, through, for example, continuous improvement and increasing your organisation’s capability maturity. This change capability will help your business to be more agile, and adopt innovation, which may mean a more robust and competitive company. Successful change initiatives will contribute to instituting a change structure and that change structure is more likely to lead to further successes as more change projects are undertaken as needed.

You will need a plan that considers and documents the strategy, timelines and responsibilities for all of the considerations below:

What

  • A Business Transition Management plan with a COM (Change Organisation Operating Model) proposal plus clear post-close transition activities
  • Ensure that the Target Operating Models and Business Architecture are shared, visible, understood and signed off, pre-implementation and cutover
  • Establish the Change Capability for post-implementation change initiatives.
  • Continuous improvement frameworks
  • Knowledge transfer and upskilling support, training and coaching
  • Post-go live incident management and feedback loop
  • Confirmation of Knowledge Management and Training

Who

  • A strong change organisation ‘marshalls’ or agents; internal people who have through the transformation program have received training and experience in change and project management and analysis. Their upskilling should ideally also be part of the knowledge transfer and training portfolio.
  • Empowered teams who have the confidence to assess their areas of work for requirements and opportunities for improvement

How

  • Set long term sustainability goals and metrics at the outset and know what to evaluate and measure post-adoption
  • Implement checks and Measurements of post-closure performance
  • Log, discuss and transition Team and Personnel Changes as it is very likely that how people and teams were previously arranged have also gone a change
  • Work with HR Workstream to help transition change roles and compensation if new change responsibilities are given
  • Ongoing Communication regarding potential change and improvement opportunities with clear roles and responsibilities for who attends review and assessment meetings where these are discussed.
Graduated Change Sustainability Plans with Post Closure Details

It is customary to create detailed project plans but there must equally detailed plans for post-closure activities that assure the implemented changes and supporting are further embedded and persisted. There must be clear activities and responsibilities and dates and durations for each activity plus a mechanism for capturing and communicating the issues and ideas to the right people.

 

Keywords – #peopletransition #businesstransition #targetoperatingmodels #operationalreadiness #sustainablechange
#sustainablechange #changemanagement #projectmanagement

Why CSR without Justice and Purpose is Sophistry

Leading companies are adding new talent to support a digital operating model. To develop sharp insights using digital tools, procurement teams will need data science and analytics expertise.

The Undeniable Power of Business Transformation

The Power of Business Transformation

You may already have a be planning to create a business can respond to the pace of change, and also increase your business opportunities and know this will rely on a business transformation process. It’s apparent that the real power comes from the response of the business and willingness to respond to a threat or opportunity perceived in its environment with transformative action. That very determination to respond and meet the challenges through a business transformation process is powerful and creates more power and momentum in its wake.

The power that business transformation will give your business is multidimensional. Leaders understand that transformation is an investment in your people, processes and technology and in the future and aspirations of your business and so business transformation is indispensable. 

Of course, the business transformation process may entail business model change, new technology or digital operations but will help to build a powerful, responsive and above all a business that is fitted to be competitive for the times ahead.

Business Transformation Drivers

The world is changing faster and faster, and business transformation is important because it is the thing that will help your business rise to the challenge these changes present. Studies have shown that digital transformation for example, is an existential issue for Small to Midsize businesses, so considering how to make that change now is a matter of urgency.

A primary aim of Business transformation  is to take actions and initiatives that realign your operations, people and processes to your new business vision and the strategy to take you there.  Transformations are actions businesses like yours take in order to survive, grow and then thrive. They do it to create opportunities for their business or take advantage of opportunities they have spotted in the marketplace. They also do it to grow more efficient, to get more reach and more power. There are very good reasons to do it but the process can seem daunting.

The Rise of Transformative Technologies and Your Business

The focus has to extend beyond these initial concerns because workplaces are seeing transformative technologies cropping up at a dizzying pace and need to understand what they need and what would help their business agenda. There are innumerable opportunities for internal and external for collaboration and interaction with suppliers and customers. Digitalisation which is a definite opportunity can appear both an inscrutable opportunity and a nebulous threat, but as larger organisations are increasingly investing vast amounts in technologies that help them capture, transform, disseminate and analyse and disseminate data, it is a clue that smaller companies need to take note of and imitate. Technology is changing the landscape of business, so organisations who want to grow and compete need to be in the race, but they need to equip themselves for that race, or risk being overwhelmed by it. There is undeniable power in transformation but it must be grasped and channelled to meet your business’s needs.

The Power that Transformation Puts in your Hands

The mobile phones we all carry around have computing power that exceeds what was used to send the first rocket to space. The ordinary person has tremendous power in their hands which gets them information, access and expertise at speed and experience the whole in a myriad of different and dazzling ways. This means that their tolerance for delays and waiting is very much diminished and expectations of the quality and depth of experience are elevated.

Responsiveness

The ability to do a lot across a range of applications and tools is important to customers and your business transformation process will markedly increase your business’ capability to provide optimal customer experiences and extended services for suppliers and customers.

Collaborative Capability 

Productivity gains and frictionless real-time communications are important considerations for your suppliers as well as your customers. To galvanise your competitive advantage, your ability to collaborate with suppliers, distributors and other third parties that your business relies on is ever more important, as is the ability to create and transmit transactional proofs and artefacts electronically and seamlessly as part of the process. Engaging in a business transformation process would mean that transparency and efficiency, ever precious,  can now go hand in hand, in the office and out in the field, from your employees to your customers and customers confirming receipt of goods for example to your employees or third parties, instantaneously. 

Rapidity and Agility

Many businesses but especially those in the small to midsize sectors, are still dependent on too many manual processes, which with technology can be speeded up and made more effective overall through automation and integration of systems and functions.

Security capabilities that come from IT transformation will be welcomed by security savvy clients and is an extra value add or even a point of differentiation you can provide through the business transformation process.

Gives your customers choices

Your customers are becoming used to high levels of performance, and expect excellent and even entertaining customer experience and to be secure through the process. Delivering this and giving your clients and customers choice is something your business must gear up for operationally and is another type of capacity that business transformation can deliver.

Big Data and Digital Power

Your business generates prodigious amounts of data, and capturing, harnessing and extracting value from it is as important to your business in the long term as almost anything else your business might do. Defining a digital process and capability for your organisation puts your business in very strong stead to plan out other improvements with the digital process being central to enabling this by creating flexibility and scale in the process.

 

 

ations, a change to the operating model is called for.

8 Proven Change Management Best Practices and Key Success Factors

Proven Change Management Success Factors

Change Management best practices are the bedrock of key success factors for sustainable benefits delivery in successful business transformation projects and assure business continuity and sustainability both for your operations and for your brand. Ensure that the people and partners you hire to help realise your transformation dream and run the project management are equipped to plan, track and measure in this vein.

 

Common drivers of change are to realise transformative benefits from strategically aligning business actions to the business strategy objectives stated in the business case that kicks off organisational change. The most fundamental element of success is that it must be sustainable, but to be sustainable, it must be planned and implemented sustainably from the outset, down to post-implementation sustainability planning. This is change management best practice because it instils the discipline of planning for what the end looks like, and not just the project, which is more likely to make change stick.

We change to adapt, survive and thrive. The great composite driver incorporates improvement, increase, growth and aspiration but a substantial number never grasp those goals, falling at the hurdles of project management, implementation and transition. This indicates that there are metrics one can drive to ensure success and it, therefore, pays to know and understand these key success factors. Business transformation takes a flawed construct of processes and interactions and methods for entering inputs and collecting and transforming outputs and, seeks to optimise them and thus elevate the consolidated set of operations and ultimately improve business performance.

 

 

Knowing the key success factors for managing and implementing change sustainably is crucial to ensuring that we don’t leave people behind in the change process, that change adoption is persisted, roles, responsibilities and knowledge are clear and transferred where necessary and people are able to continue in their roles and business is not disrupted. All change management best practice is geared towards maintaining business continuity while disrupting and shifting business-as-usual, which makes the Business Transition discipline so critical.

Evidence of successful transition would be measured by factors such as Day 1 clarity on roles, responsibilities, workflows and successful operations of new platforms, tools and correct and complete communication flows.

As the need, scale and pace of change continue on an ever upward trajectory with incidences of failure not appreciably declining, recognising certain change management best practices that make success more likely is extremely salient.

The top reasons for failure can be subsumed under one category – People! Let’s look at why people are important and the best practice around managing that most important of business and project dimensions.

 

1. Best Practice People Management for Change Management Success

It is smart to consider employees assets and if you do not already, for your change management or business transformation exercise to be successful, you should consider them as such and address the following common issues.

 

  1. Properly prioritised, equipped, engaged and well-managed people.
  2. Managing Resistance to Change
  3. Toxic working environments and relationships
  4. Lack of clear roles and responsibilities

 

Change is never successful without the buy-in, support and facilitation of people who are customers of your change. The quality of the Employee Experience through change and beyond is one of the reasons why people management is such a key factor of successful change management. It’s vitally important to get your employees on board because sustainable change is far more challenging when staff are unengaged, and not brought properly into the process.

Engage people in all areas of involvement through events, seminars, talks and break out meetings, presenting the change and giving an opportunity for feedback, to ensure employees are part of the planning and transition strategies because this helps to increase participation, valuable procedural information and unstinting knowledge transfer, all of which actively combat fear and resistance to change.

Correctly managed and engaged, people are co-creators of sustainable and successful change and must be motivated, included, with the impacts on them and how they are managed, made a primary metric by which we measure success.

Stakeholder management allows us to control, in a targeted way, the impact of change and processes like communication and attention leaders therefore ultimately need to expend on them. However, a primary stakeholder strategy must emanate from the business transition management plan in the strategies that it employs in integrating users and all those impacted right from the inception of the program.

 

2. Leadership and Communication

Great leaders on business transformation programs are undeniably a key success factor as they ensure that all change management best practices are adopted and they drive and enable Attitudes, Behaviours and Collaboration, the ABC© of effective people on projects. Leaders including members of the Change Management Team, Program/Project Managers plus senior change agents including but not limited to the programme executives/board/steering committees play a huge part in reinforcing the necessity and the drivers of the change as well as the benefits.

The leaders help to shape and manage prevailing attitudes to change and create useful and reasonable counters to fear and resistance to change and ensure that the levels at which behaviour change must happen are planned, resourced for and enabled through the business transition. From having the right messaging, graduated at the right levels to the changing of the target operating models, redesigning processes to empowering teams to collaborate and create greater transparency and efficiencies throughout the process and reduce rework.

Communication

Great communications will augment and power all other factors, and with a detailed plan for engaging with all employees impacted by the change to hear and answer queries and concerns and take on board suggestions, a more collaborative approach could grow. From sharing the vision to project communications, communications from leaders need to have great clarity, be aligned, directive and influential. As evangelists of the change, leaders pursuing change management best practice should be willing and communicators with a plan for communicating with different stakeholders to build and maintain confidence as well as momentum. 

3. Address the lack of a specific, focused business transition Management Function

Some change projects are managed with different workstreams owning large chunks of the transition elements and almost no representation of the adoption elements which leads to a fragmented and fatally flawed implementation in several cases. A central focused function that owns this large and significant area is key because a lot of the markers for failure originate in this not being centralised, sponsored stream that protects the people, brand and adoption considerations of a business transformation programme. This may be the single most important best practice to adopt.

 

Business Transition Management and Operational Readiness

The process of implementing the scoped and planned change through the structured phases of project management is dependent for posterity on embedding and business adoption, which must be persisted through sustainable behaviours, attitudes and processes. This foundational process depends on the change management best practice of Business Transition to drive change adoption.

Business Transition is the process of moving the business from where it currently is to where it needs to be as seamlessly as possible with all the constituent components in lockstep to deliver a full end to end solution for all of your people, the processes they manage and the technology and tools they use to do that. Business Transition is, therefore, the linchpin of implementing sustainable change.

The ‘People’ Key Success Factor means that a fierce and unerring focus on how well people are catered for and managed is absolutely critical. Consequently, the function that leads this process, which is Business Transition Management, is also key Success Factor for successful and sustainable change. Business Transition Leads never forget that the purpose of business change and transformation is to deliver something of greater value to people, for people, than what we started out with.

Business Transition Management needs to be integrated across all workstream deliverables to be highly effective and to manage readiness and cutover risk, including operational readiness as a risk management strategy for change design and implementation, the Target Operating Model, the output and integration of cross-functional and diverse teams as well as post-closure sustainability planning.

 

 

Business Transition Focuses on the Design and Embedding of Change

Business Transition is so important because it guides and focuses the design of change and processes for embedding around people, integration and transition elements from project inception to cutover to post-project closure. Business Transition perpetuates the benefits delivered and enables sustainability.  As the Change Team is assembled, aligning actions to deliverables that constitute the target state requires the business transition function to bridge the gap between the as-is state and the desired to-be state.

 

4. Your Brand Strategy and Managing Change

Your brand risks losing resonance and equity when the impacts of the change management make key operations and common responses deviate from the target and your business does risk damage to the brand perception and reputation when change is not managed well.

Giving consideration to how things change for customers and whether the change strategy is aligned with the brand strategy helps to protect the business’s reputation because with change initiatives come risks to operations and people, the customer experience and therefore the brand.

It is necessary to incorporate or extend practices that build or embody the principles, values and ethics of your business’ position and promise. A core function of a Transition Lead, a pivotal role and key success factor, should be to protect and maintain brand standards and track actions with the potential to impact on customer and employer experiences.

5. Planning – Preparation, Change and Implementation and Beyond

 

There need to be detailed plans for all deliverables and workstreams, not least a plan for engaging all employees impacted by the change to hear and answer queries and concerns and take on board suggestions. The first rule of planning is that while it must map out the destination and the steps to get there from where we currently are, plans are never the final full shape of the whole journey.

 

It is only ever the shape of the key steps we must take until we see what the bend in the road reveals. It’s a living document that defines key milestones we must hit but accommodates changes in the journey to the destination, so it must be iterative, all-encompassing and include everybody involved in creating, contributing, transforming or using any input or output.It is absolutely necessary to make continual assessments about what risks, dependencies and issues do to the estimated dates of completion of tasks and what happens when the resources estimated encounter the true complexities of a task.

 

We are always estimating with plans, but as time goes on, we can firm up some assumptions, and with knowledge and experience, our estimates become more realistic. However, these changes must be discussed, agreed and communicated widely and regularly to keep control of potentially spiralling scope, costs and durations.

Transition Bedrock for Sustainability – Sustainability Planning, Transition and Cutover

It is customary to create detailed project plans but there must equally detailed plans for post-closure activities that assure the implemented changes and supporting are further embedded and persisted. There must be clear activities and responsibilities and dates and durations for each activity plus a mechanism for capturing and communicating the issues and ideas to the right people.

Sustainability planning can be put another way – planning that makes change stick and truly requires and depends on long term vision and willingness to build change capability into the business and should begin at the start of the change process. It also requires a recognition that the current change is unlikely to be the last and a willingness to invest in an infrastructure that can drive change and continuous improvement going forward.

This helps in several ways, not least helping your business to be more responsive to change, more agile and increasingly innovative. Successful change initiatives will contribute to instituting a change structure and that change structure is more likely to lead to further successes as more change projects are undertaken as needed.

6. Capture the Change with a Target Operating Model

If you are changing the way your business functions and ways of working, you need a Target Operating Model (TOM), that depicts a future state (the To-Be, i.e. Target Operating Mode)l that your business will be moving to for its future goals, presented in the context of the As-Is, i.e current Operating Model. It is necessary to capture, document, codify and store the knowledge that is necessary for the TOM BAU from suppliers, the change teams and within the organisation.

The Target operating model provides a standard and integrated view of the business, aligning operating and functional structures with strategic business objectives for the business’s people, processes, technologies and tools. It will show all the interactions, integrations, roles, responsibilities and handoffs across functions and lines of business.

The target operating model is the embodiment of the structures that will facilitate the desired change and drives it by capturing and modelling the proposed new ways of working in a visible way. It represents the best organisation across  people, processes and technology that your business should adopt to meet your business goals of survival, growth and supremacy in your sector, and can be shown at several levels for different audiences in the organisation from a conceptual level, all the way to very detailed process designs that show handoffs, interdependencies/interfaces and functional and role level interactions. It is a powerful tool for depicting different perspectives of the organisation that should elicit incisive questions on the suitability of the planned TOM and form a touchpoint and focus for discussing how the change will really look.

7. Diversity and Inclusivity

Business transformation change programs still fail an awful lot and a lack of inclusivity and diversity in the leadership, process and change agents is a key reason, with 97% -fortune 500 companies declining to share their diversity data, as C-suite leadership are demonstrably still extremely homogenous being predominantly white, male and from very similar backgrounds, education and networks.

McKinsey found that companies with higher diversity profiles outperform those with lower diversity by 15%. Leaders wanting to benefit from diversity wins ensure diversity all across the organisation, especially as inclusion at the top can help positively shape the propagation and power of diversity in the business. This does require a commitment to diversity and inclusion and a change programme is often a good opportunity to deploy strategies around improving a culture that values diversity. The in-flight change also benefits from change teams that are drawn from a range of backgrounds with cross functional capability.

A culture that values inclusivity is more likely to learn lessons and make gains in paying attention to diverse and less authoritative voices when managing change resistance and the feedback loop.

Celebrate and Empower Teams

Great leadership in this or any context especially with the diversity dimension must foster the right attitudes and empower the right behaviours and is nowhere more important than on teams. Leaders need to show that they value the people in the team, their differences in what they bring to the table, and enable them to innovate.

Cross-functional teams help to reduce friction in projects through constant collaboration, integration and time taken to discuss problems and make decisions. Diversity and inclusion of cross-functional teams are key factors of sustainable change because people are more likely to be creative and innovative in teams like these.

Cross-functional project teams are constituted of members of the project who have been assembled for the sole purpose of delivering the sought outcomes of the project, from within the business as subject matter experts in their functional areas, as well as external people like business analysts, modellers. developers and data, data scientists, testers, workstream leads, trainers etc.

People should also be empowered to report inappropriate conduct, both from leaders and team members and must believe that action will be taken, or it reduces willingness to expose themselves for what may be perceived as for no good reason.

8. Proactive Dependencies, Resources and Risk and Issues Management

 

Dependencies, risks and issues will affect a range of phases and projects, in a program and may arise through means internal to the project or external to it. They can be very complex and numerous as a result and require organisation.

It is well recognised that one of the main factors of failure of change programs has to do with how well we can manage resources, as well as risks and dependencies. We’re back to people again because they are of course the primary resources, but also because many dependencies and risks arise around them. Other resources – tools, software, technology, hardware, architecture –  are of course a source of primary dependencies, risks and issues.

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Guarantee Cutover Excellence

5 Best Practices that Guarantee Cutover Excellence

What is the cutover plan and what is its purpose? Answering that requires a cutover definition and an understanding of the purpose of cutover activities and where these fit within your potential project. Below, we’ll explore what happens post the execution phase of your project, when we start focusing on implementation and the embedding of change elements, and the relationship between cutover and transition to business- as- usual. This is when the solutions developed and the data required to run them are migrated to replace your existing systems and newly designed processes that can utilise the new functions the new platforms enable, can be transitioned. Transitioning to business-as-usual actually means changing your business as usual wholly or in part without damaging or negatively impacting the natural flows of your business, operationally or otherwise.

Your change project and the benefits it delivers are only as good as the quality and completeness of its cutover and transition. The investment your business makes in new software and IT and the transformations hoped for are safeguarded and guaranteed by the detail in the planning of business transition to BAU (business as usual) and the cutover process. This is generally when projects tend to fail because the implementation phase is fraught with risk to business continuity and the morale of your staff.

What is the Project Cutover Phase?

The project cutover and transition phase is when the new process, people and data are migrated from all existing systems, processes and roles and responsibilities of the snapshot prevailing at the time of the project inception, to the target state and systems. Cutover migration is a common term by which this process is described, combining two critical activities that happen in parallel and are independent for business paradigm shift that is the business target, and it generally has a high potential for risk.

Cutover

Cutover is the act or a state of transition from one business state to a new, desired and state, normally of IT components into production and transition into Business-as-Usual, generally as part of the implementation phase of a project. Simply put, it’s when your projects go live in production. A project is structured in phases. Planning, Resourcing, Execution and Implementation. There are phases that deal with building the solution and testing it and others that deal with ‘installing it’, all generally done in a sandbox/preproduction environment which means that it reduces the risk on the production/BAU environment. The cutover phase is the time when the solution – IT and business elements are deployed into production and Business-as-Usual, so Cutover is an activity that happens to enable project go live.

What is a Cutover Plan?

The cutover plan and the transition strategy and implementation plans are primary tools for documenting the anticipated operational readiness risks and testing the risk mitigation strategies for cutover migration.

Why is Cutover Critical?

A cutover plan is necessary because of the risks to business continuity, and go live delay and ultimately project failure and proactive planning and management of cutover and transition can reduce the risks of failure and downtime. 

Business Transition Management

Business Transition Management is the process of preparing people, implementing new processes  (through the target operating model and detailed process designs), verifying the integration with new platforms and technology and validating the interfaces delivered by a solution, equipping the users and owners of roles defined in the TOM to perform their responsibilities, and transition all the elements from the existing state to the desired future state as seamlessly as possible to achieve Day 1 excellence in the new business process, attendant to the new IT, software and infrastructure.

Business Transition 

Business Transition is the process of preparing the organisation for change adoption, empowering employees to take up their new roles and responsibilities, and participate in ensuring that they have the tools they need to perform, their roles as completely and seamlessly as possible. The change teams and business teams work extremely closely together to make sure things go well and prove and validate the Target Operating Models, prepare for full operational readiness and ensuring there is a fallback position for disaster recovery and ensure there is business continuity.

powerful transition and cutover process

 

Below are the 5 key areas that the most attention and close attention must be continually paid to guarantee that cutover can be done with confidence and to a high degree of excellence.

1. Planning Purpose

The plan allows us to share the massive detail of the business transition and cutover process with all relevant stakeholders and forms the cannon for the process, its steps and roles and responsibilities to make it work. The timings drive the implementation timeline and should be the goal against which all project activities are working. Accordingly, clear risk management processes should apply, as defined within the dependencies, risks and issues communication plans. The process for managing emergent issues especially and any processes that can be foreseen to trigger them should be planned for. Exigencies will arise. A big part of the purpose of transition is having a dedicated function and plan to manage these exigencies as they arise. 

While the reason to have a detailed plan is to avoid as many emergencies as possible, there still needs to be a process in place if an adverse event arises – If the transition needs to be augmented or varied and if the cutover needs to be aborted, decision points and responsibility processes should be defined for these.

1.1 Communication Plan

It goes without saying that communication between stakeholders, the business and the change teams is critical but because humans and pressure makes for mistakes and autonomous decisions can have far-reaching consequences, a communication plan that defines the communication and decision process should be created. 

Similarly, a Transition Operating Model, roughly based on user roles in the target state and change team roles within the project should be defined – easily achieved by extending the TOM to incorporate the change roles and responsibilities during cutover.

2. Business Transition and Cutover Implementation Plan

The transition plan must clarify the path to cutover into production and prepare for the post-closure and maintenance phase of the project and identifies all personnel responsible throughout all cutover and transition activities, tools, techniques and governance expected, including how risks will be managed and the basis of Go/-No-go decisions.

Business Transition and Cutover Best Practices

Overview
  • A communication plan and clear operating model that acts as a script for roles, responsibilities, actions and handoffs should have been created as part of the project against which the DR can be planned.
  • A Dress Rehearsal validates that the operational readiness and implementation plans include all dependencies and processes and comprehensively integrates all process steps to complete all process flows that complete business deliverables and ensures that all roles and responsibilities are fully understood.
  • A timeline should be created for time-driven events against the operating model.
  • An implementation timeline should show all the steps that should happen, and by when for the cutover to be fully successful.
  • Operational Readiness forums should be convened in the run-up to the transition and cutover dates to ensure to manage these risks and dependencies and facilitate transparency.

3. The Role of Risks and Dependencies Management

All of the project and operational dependencies of the project should be collated and documented, with a clear view of owners and completion dates documented for clarity, transparency and risks raised against the late or problematic dependencies. This document must be managed closely and the change and business teams must monitor the risks and issues extremely proactively, and as a team.

4. Transition Activities

To enable a safe and secure transition to BAU, it is important that the activities planned out in the cutover and transition implementation planned are performed in this phase and that the right teams are assembled to oversee, participate and support it.

4. 1 Operational Readiness

Operational readiness is a critical assessment through the structured performance of key validation activities to understand the business’s firmness to successfully move into an implementation and performative phase of actively using the solution developed in concert with performing and supporting new processes designed for new roles and responsibilities. In parallel, the framework to bolster the maintenance process is extensively examined.

Change readiness takes a critical look at the organization’s resolve, fit and capacity to successfully deliver the benefits of a proposed program or project, and initiates appropriate actions to bring a current state of readiness to one of confidence in long-term success of the program/project outcomes.

4.2 CBTOM – Cutover and Business Transition TOM

A number of actors across the business, change and third party suppliers are likely to be involved in an even moderately complex cutover which more often than not these days will incorporate some data migration and integration of new business systems. The CBTOM defines the roles and responsibilities for participating in the Dress Rehearsals for cutover and the cutover with clear goals and aligns common protocols, standards, terminology and tools

4.3 Check TOM Status

The Target Operating Model must be have been walked through, agreed, shared, baseline and disseminated across the organisation, with all necessary process designs and system actions matched prior to the start of transition activities. The document must be under strict change control and governance. Outstanding queries must be fully resolved prior to the start of cutover.

4.4 Validate Roles and Responsibilities

If the final baselined document is available, it is critical to check and validate the roles and responsibilities agreed with all sponsors and senior members of staff to ensure it is clear what all actors will be required to have in place, from tools, systems access to credentials and privileges to perform their roles.

4.5 Training – Establish training and knowledge transfer requirements and training timetable

As soon as there is clarity on new roles and changes, a gap analysis should be performed that clarifies who needs training to use the new systems and to perform their roles according to the new TOM. Where possible, the change teams, vendors or people familiar with the system or performing the roles should be scheduled to provide knowledge transfer,

4.6 Create an operational timeline that will govern the Dress Rehearsal

A business driven and critical events dependent operational timeline must be developed to govern how the operating model process designs are used to deliver business outcomes to meet critical timeframes and this should be tested in the first instance during the Dress Rehearsals.

4.7 Dress Rehearsals

The Dress Rehearsal is a business transition risk management strategy that exposes issues in an operational context in an early implementation scenario with people equipped to resolve the issues as part of the Dress Rehearsal, to account for business as usual inflection points and ring fenced activities.

Technical and development teams benefit from a Dress Rehearsal process to configure the solution in production because it acts a stress test of the deployment plan and the environmental variables set up for parallel running, and allows the rehearsal of the steps that comprise cutover. It exposes any assumptions that are erroneous and dependencies that have not been factored in and failure points that could lead to SLA breaches in advance of going into post-go-live in incident management when it is much more fraught to scramble an effective response cost effectively.

We can hope for the best, but to plan aggressively for the Dress Rehearsal is better in order to avoid the worst because the idea of Dress rehearsals is that there are several iterations of it and it is planned to be done as early as possible to enable time and resource availability for remediation and testing. This absorbs the likelihood that cutover will take longer and encounter more issues than were envisaged because we simply cannot envisage everything. The job is to manage the risk and issues, we cannot fully eliminate them all. 

4.8 Parallel Running

Parallel running allows the business to continue on one track within production, while a separate or partitioned environment and ring-fenced resources are reserved to run the Dress Rehearsals at the same time and to meet the same terminal activity profiles prior to cutting over to reduce the risk of finding and resolving problems in an environment that may constrain or imperil business continuity but allows the work to occur in real-time.

5. Cutover and Business Transition and Entry and Exit Criteria

User Integration and Acceptance Tests

Users should be involved in and aware of results and issues from the final testing processes and know workarounds for issues that pass the threshold for the entry criteria to cutover, and be privy to release notes for these defects.

Cutover 

We’re in Release Mode, or ‘Ship’ Mode, the project phase within which deployments into production happens and the end state transition to BAU is performed. The Release Managers owns the cutover process and the Business Transition Manager has oversight of the entire Transition Process, and they track progress and that all activities are performed in sequence and that risks and issues are proactively and tightly managed. 

There are an enormous amount of critical and high profile events going on – deployment of the developed solutions and applications and associated infrastructure – servers databases plus migration of data, all of which could get easily snarled up at micro-levels. Subprograms, integration issues, data issues. This is why the entry criteria defined in the Business Transition and Cutover plan and checklist must be validated before we proceed. 

Resource Availability

All team members should be ready and prepared mentally and for their activities and deliverables for the Cutover Events. People should be available and accessible on the days the operational timeline says they need to be available and somebody in the transition team should be ensuring that that is the case.

Go/No-Go

A go/no go decision needs to be made based on entry and exit criteria and progress on the multiple steps and outcomes must be tracked, with incident resolution war rooms convened at defined severity, size and impact thresholds by the right decision makers.

 

 

The Magic of Project and Programme Management

PMs are creators, in whose gift is the magic of project and programme management. It’s not just some dry art or befuddling science. I can’t guarantee you put 2 and 3 and get 5 but done well, I guarantee you get something that is far greater, far superior to the sum of its parts. Dare I say, like a great cake! Project managers get to create something that lives beyond and without them, It impacts people’s lives, hopefully positively, it changes the trajectory of the function or the organisation where the change was embedded and to my mind, it’s exciting real-life alchemy!

Project and Programme Management is an exercise in defining the necessary and desirable, applying some unrealistic timelines and finding a pragmatic middle, identifying the possibilities in the quality variable and resourcing big ambitious plans out of thin air and shoestring comparative to what needs to be achieved. Good PMs will set you straight but attaining the PM requirements, meeting the business case and delivering the requested benefits even with generous budgets, still calls for an element of magic in project and programme management. PMs take somebody else’s dreams and visions and work every day to make it a reality. They are firefighters, counsellors, accountants and have to be a jack of all trades that become short term experts in at least one facet of lots of different workstreams. They are the ultimate believers in what can be, what must be and their part in making things happen.

The Magic of Project Management from the original task rabbits bearing a variety of indispensable gifts

Do you need a professional Project or Program Manager?

It is easy and indeed common to wonder if formal and professional Project Management is necessary unless leaders have had experience elsewhere of just how hard it is to run a project or a program with people whose day jobs has been something quite different. They wonder if somebody can’t just read a few books, maybe even do an online course and pop into the role! It’s a cheap option, so you can understand the motivation, but it would be manifestly the wrong way to go.  There is undoubtedly magic created by project management but it is born of a blend of skill, experience and networks. That’s what companies bug and small around the world pay the premium for and it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to attempt any other way. The cost of re-dos is far higher. The magic is harder to come by without the harbingers – skilled project managers.

So let’s try to distil the full magic of project management and the untold advantages practitioners bring.

At a high level, there’s strategic as well as tactical glories, team building, leadership and the management of conflicting requirements as well as the goals more clearly understood around the management of budget, scope, time and quality deliverables.

To decompose that further, let’s start with

  • the function, mindset and perspectives that project management puts in place; PMs are the original Big Data practitioners because of the sheer volume and variety of tasks they juggle to firefight, problem solve, create solutions, form natural alliance bubbles and resolve conflict. They literally perform a myriad of functions and this takes getting used to to be good at it. It is extremely demanding.
  • Project Management provides the kind of servant and leadership dichotomy you observe in parents one their children are of a certain age: they have to lead and guide as well as listen, learn and follow to be fully effective. They do this with users, experts and leaders. This means they have to flexible and hold their positions lightly while still holding tightly to a vision of change that has been entrusted to them. This means they must have high levels of confidence and real humility.
  • The motivation your business needs to attempt, agree and adopt change comes from project management. This is inescapable for success, and PMs other claim to fame and magic in project and program management is that they motivate and mobilise people to generate and deploy ideas for a range of issues and obstacles that arise.
  • All projects are racked with problems and questions because there are several unknowns in a project, no matter how well planned it is. This does not faze seasoned change professionals and they expect this but the necessity to solve problems to deliver change leads to the creation of stunning solutions and research of best practices, tools and frameworks that can be adopted. These can extend beyond the life of the project and become part of the business’ continuous improvements.
  • Although sometimes, especially in wholesale transformations, problems can take on calamitous proportions, project management can drive creative solutions that can solve problems in extensible and enduring ways.
  • The magic doesn’t come without structure, rigour and process and PMs don’t come without those.
  • Innovation, innovation, innovation as change creators, project and program managers can be agents of innovation in an organisation.
  • Project management brings people together and resolves conflicts. PMs bring together cross-functional teams., experts and analysts – assembling the advances of change.
  • They know, understand and can apply the methodologies that your project needs.
  • Neutralising previously toxic environments and relationships.
  • Leave a mark, leave a legacy of change and how a change organisation can be built and a culture of continuous improvement

The PMI describes the essentials and fundamental qualities that professional project managers bring to a project.

The Link between Change Management & Project Management

Exploring the link between Change Management and Project Management

The confluence of and the link between Change Management and Project Management is an evergreen source of queries and requests for clarification. 

What’s the link and relationship between change management and project management? Is it to do with differences in methodologies, tools and skills? Is there a project management approach to change or a change management approach to project management? My personal favourite, which I will explore in another post, where does business transition fit in? 

I receive myriad versions of this basic question, whether they are different and how you might characterise these differences. What is interesting is that sometimes, even people in the PM field are often not completely clear about these either.

Change Delivery Methodology 

One answer is that the link between project management and change management is project management is a methodology that enables the crucial dimensions of change deliverables to be S.M.A.R.T, tracked and monitored. It allows the change objectives to be broken down into workstreams and the risks around realising to be managed, but project management does not by itself fully manage change. It can be said to manage the mechanics of change delivery but there are overarching change management protocols that projects in their traditional guise and focus on budget, time and quality may be limited in realising. Change Management is a fuller discipline that ensures focus on the people and organisational considerations. The processes are not disparate or separate, they exist on a continuum and can flow into each other to follow solve the whole of the problem the change architecture is convened to resolve. It’s worth bearing in mind that the relationship between change and project management is symbiotic, but the definitive factor is the extent of the impact of change on people, their work and their wellbeing.

Therefore, to the overarching question of the difference between Change Management and Project Management, the brief answer should be that Project Management is how you plan, resource and deliver change. However it is not that simple as Change Management and Project Management are treated as quite distinct disciplines with project management focusing on the budget, time and resourcing, risks and issues. Although there is a lot of emphasis on stakeholder management within project management, it is easy to denude the process of a fundamental change management element: managing people through the change cycle. In its entirety, change deals with the psychologies, positioning,perception, commitment to and equipping of people to make change truly sing and stick. It deals with strategies for making modifications with agreement.

Many project managers have not always understood that they are in the business of managing change from the perspective of what means for the people involved, and in fairness, are not always accorded the freedom and bandwidth to have this focus. I have experienced, for example, projects, with no business transition function. One of the first roles I was headhunted for was to build and institute that function, having successfully done it elsewhere. Change Management is concerned with people who must live with the change, who will be impacted by it, whose days and quality of life are defined not just by what is delivered and by their ability to use and get value out of it, but also by how they are engaged with and participate in that change.

The conflience of change management and project management

 

The People Protocol – The key link between Project and Change Management

It can be said, then, that People Agenda lives at intersection, people considerations abound in the confluence between change management and project management. These considerations successfully conclude the change management or transformation exercise. Indeed the process of change delivery will significantly and enduringly colour the perspective that people have of the ultimate solution.

Simply put, people make change happen and they define how successful its adoption will be. This has implications for cutover, incident management, rollback and continued use of legacy systems the transformation was supposed to demise. Very often, organisations hang on to software and systems no longer being supported, despite migrating to newer solutions because people trust and depend upon them, and do not want to let go of old tools, either because they are psychological crutches or because they never learned to use and trust the new solution. More frequently, it is because there is a functional gap in the solution delivered. As a change manager, this should represent a heartbreaking outcome because it is ultimately a failure. If that happens, we need to wear it folks, and it is not a good look. 

Functional gaps can be exposed early in the process through various feedback and testing (verification and validation) loops which should exist in a robust project management framework. This only really works, though, where there is a clear and proactive stakeholder management. This means engaging with and getting strong and in-depth participation from beginning to end, and not just at user testing or acceptance phase. That can become a nonsense if they are not involved from the outset. 

What makes a change management process is the consideration of the impact of the change, understanding the degrees to which each category of user is impacted and having a plan to manage it.

The Integration of Change Management and Project Management Delivers

We deliver change through a change project or programme of works and manage it though project or programme management. Change management is about finding the best way to guide your organisation through putting the organisation  into the best state to predispose it to drive and realise value through its activities. 

Critical Success Factors like programme governance,change  communications and business transition cannot be minimised of course in the delivery of successful change, however, these factors only highlight the importance and support of the people dimension, and its necessity to the process.

When you are facing a transformation that will require a change to people and their roles and fundamental shifts within the organisation, an integrated approach is undoubtedly what is needed but equal weight, not just lip service must be paid to the people side of change. Integration moves past the link and creates a holistic practice that will leave your organisation in a state far superior to what you started out with. The PMI explains this integration here.

#1 Answer to What is Change Management

Cherry on the Top* Change Management:

A recipe** for success, a method for perfection

*Full disclosure – I love change management but I also love cakes and cocktails and making them, so **food features a lot in my posts because I prefer pretty pics of food to ‘officey’ ones, especially as I do indulge in food analogies for change management activities and initiatives.

 

Change Management is like making a cake – results can be variable in both, so success in your change management initiatives really rely on good practice and good change management. Having all the right ingredients but using them incorrectly, in the wrong quantities or adding or mixing them in the wrong order, could mean you end up with a shonky outcome. It may or may not taste ok but it certainly will not be what you set out to achieve. Some processes are more important than others and some tools are indispensable, just as in managing change. Some practices can all but guarantee success in change – like measuring or using the right baking heat can in baking. I call these key success factors.

Some large programs require making several different cakes that all need to be perfect for the whole to be right. If you think of these cakes as individual benefits the program delivers then it is easier to live with the analogy. And so, some cakes must be made before others are and some are made differently and with different processes to other cakes. Some are simpler than others and different skills are needed – whipping, sculpting in some, while not all are necessary for others. But we still get cake. Yay! So you’ll get change, but will it be palatable, tolerable and bear any resemblance to the vision and business case? Will it have been good change management?

Why Change Management?

The transformative power of good change management is a big part of why I love this discipline, as well as the interdependent nature of the transformation with how your brand is perceived.  

What is Change Management?

I am often asked, ‘What is Change Management?’. When I haven’t answered, ‘it’s like cake, obviously’, I have been known to answer, that it’s, ‘trying to manage the things that people resist most in their working lives, mitigate their resistance and responses to trying to manage all of it’. It’s not definitive, but it’s instructive. 

Nobody likes change. Well, very few people anyway. They like even less formulating a response to it. They hate having to implement the change especially if it feels imposed, even if they understand the case for it, especially if the impact of the change relative to the benefits personally isn’t a net positive. It’s not a pithy statement, but it is really what change management is. Drop me a line with your pithy statement on what good change management is! [email protected] Hopefully, it stands to reason that good change management is about managing these responses and avoiding these pitfalls.

Let’s check out some formal and succinct definitions about what change management is. I love this one from Smarp, simply because the definition includes both the concepts of business transformation and business transition which many don’t. Now Business Transition is my thing, my passion. Good change management doesn’t get done without business transition.

Change management is a systematic approach that includes dealing with the transition or transformation of organizational goals, core values, processes or technologies.

I add the following qualifiers and determiners:

  • that change management employs a proven canon of tools, structures, methodologies and an ethos that helps to ensure that the desired outcome is in fact delivered.
  • that good change management, distinct from the project management process, is focused on the management and modification of the behaviour of people whilst undergoing change, with methods to do this in a way that does not demoralise or alienate your people (staff, stakeholders, suppliers, even your customers). 
  • Change management is the ultimate people management exercise. People participation and compliance is the single biggest arbiter of the success and rate of progress on your project. Change management projects are contrived, artificially high pressure, constant flux situations over sustained periods of time. Good change management projects reduce the burden of anxiety and uncertainty on people, making stakeholder management and business transition a priority.

Smarp nails this again

The purpose of every change management initiative is to successfully implement strategies and methods for effecting change and helping people to accept and adapt to change.

 

Why does Change Management Matter?

The majority of people don’t like change and they resist with all their might. If they could they would bite you to resist it. Seriously. They see it as threatening, displacing even replacing and sadly, in many cases, it does. Transformation very often leaves nothing untouched. That is literally the meaning of transformation. So when people don’t like change, it creates fear and worry but what if you could make change initiatives something most people could run to and relish, and if not exactly that, what if you could take most of the sting of the fear and distress out of it? Well then, positive emotions can prevail, there can be better participation, greater engagement and collaboration in your business’ change management activities. That is the purpose of change management. Good change management tries to makes that happen.

Why and When does the Need Arise?

*Disclaimer: Reminder of full disclosure above, specifically regarding cocktails.

Ok, so what makes businesses undertake change management?

Amongst other pressures, stress and distress. The business is strained, capabilities are stretched, profits are reduced, reputation is suffering, people are leaving, the systems aren’t fit for purpose and the business faces high risks of these things happening. The competition is riding high and pushing forward based on their transformation and action can’t be postponed.

This is more of a cocktail situation, and not just because of the stress but because timing and matching the right (flavour/type of !)tools to the right problems play a huge part. Plus, having just added the words ‘stress’ and ‘distress’ to the conversation, the thought of a cocktail is refreshing, no? 

 

Good change management is like a great cocktail for when the need for change management arises

Seriously, with how much change is happening all the time, and the crises that propel ever greater need for change, there aren’t many businesses that can avoid change management of some stripe or other. It is needed now to stay competitive, effective, efficient, relatable, relevant and survive and thrive. 

Examples of situations that make companies undertake change management initiatives and business transformation are:

  • A need for new tech, systems or platforms may mean you need to change a bunch of processes. 
  • A need to provide data to a supplier, a regulator and customers,  all with different structures for that may necessitate a new operating model, and new roles and responsibilities for data validation, structures, standards and security. 
  • Huge amounts of data that need transformation and load for use in new platforms but which have a high volume and variety will need a big data transformation with changes to other systems. This will give rise to all kinds of integrations and functional changes you may not have not envisaged. 
  • A need for a new collaboration tool that is both internal or external, to change the frequency of your reports and your ability to respond to enquiries in a much shorter space of time than before that requires an enormous crunching and consolidation of data from a thousand sources but currently have no systems and processes to do that? 
  • If you’ve had a huge internal or even external crisis but has had a massive impact across your business and the business model needs to change?
  • A need to standardise a core process across all of your organisation in different locations. 

It can be tough but it needn’t be insurmountable, awful or wasteful. Your ambition should be to ensure that when you decide to jump in, you aim to have a good change management process, that focuses on taking your people along with you – 

Nobody likes change. 

They like even less formulating a response to it. 

They hate having to implement the change especially if it feels imposed upon them….