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Business transformation: more clarity, less confusion

Learn how to overcome the main challenges facing business transformation projects and deliver lasting change for your organization.

Published by Orgvue 

Office Building, Building, Architecture

While much of the press attention around business transformation today focuses on digital transformation, in reality, organizations may want to transform for any number of reasons. They may want to:

The list goes on.

The complexity of these kinds of change management programs is often significant, with many stakeholders and many moving parts. Organizations will typically carry out these initiatives on a number of levels at any time, often combining an overarching strategic program with a number of more tactical, operational projects. Success is never a foregone conclusion.

While a considerable amount of time is spent (quite rightly) on getting the thinking and strategy correct, every successful transformation will focus just as much effort and resources on execution. Beyond all the charts, models and analyses, this is where enduring results will be delivered.

It’s also where the main challenges lie.

It’s in implementation that the purity of thinking meets the messiness of how the business is structured and what management, employees and teams do on a daily basis.

So, how do you ensure your transformation initiatives stand the best chance of success?

Delivering successful business transformation

No matter whether we’re talking about a functional change, a merger integration, a cost-cutting project or a business model update, successful transformation programs are rooted in ensuring the right people are doing the right things in the right places at the right time. But making that happen in the real world starts a long while before any physical changes to employee job titles or team composition.

We’ve worked with a wide range of global organizations on their business transformation programs. We see the most effective are those that successfully navigate four key challenges. They:

  • gain clarity on their current situation with a robust approach to data collection and integration
  • explore a range of different design options and have a process to assess the impact of each
  • develop a realistic plan on how to deliver on their business transformation strategy
  • put in place systems to monitor their progress, allowing them to course-correct where necessary

Gaining clarity on where you stand

We live in an age of data overload. Most large organizations have dashboards and metrics for every conceivable facet of their operations. But with all this data, it can still be difficult to get a clear picture of the current state of the business in anything but broad-brush terms. This is even more the case when it comes to your employees and how they work with team members on delivering value to customers.

To get the clarity and insights you require, you’ll need to integrate data from many internal systems and sources. This is likely to involve importing and cleaning data that use different formats and schema. While this can appear a time-consuming process, technology such as the Orgvue platform can radically simplify and accelerate it.

The result should be a single source of truth that will set a baseline for the current state of the organization and its people against your targets and budgets. This is a critical step in ensuring you have a sound business case for transformation.

Exploring different design options for your business transformation

There’s never a single right way to transform an organization. From determining the precise focus for your business transformation to planning how you’ll make it real, there will be many options. Some will, of course, deliver better outcomes than others. So, it’s important you spend time exploring the broadest range of alternatives available to the business.

For example:

  • Would the organization benefit more from offshoring customer contact or keeping it in-country but moving to a hybrid working arrangement?
  • Should you merge back-office capabilities after an acquisition, or would it be more efficient to keep them separate?
  • Could you use new technologies to automate routine tasks, freeing up employees to carry out more valuable activities?

In our experience, the best way to understand your options is to explore different “what-if” scenarios. You can then evaluate the impact and implications of each alternative.

The key, however, is to be able to model a wide range of different scenarios quickly. This will deliver the perspective you need without unnecessarily delaying your transformation project.

Planning for successful transformation

Executing a business transformation that meets or exceeds its objectives demands careful planning. As Stephen Hasty of KPMG, highlights:

“Most companies get the vision right, but the execution is the hard part: more than half of companies undertaking transformation fail to achieve the desired business result.”

It’s not enough to have a vision for your transformation, you need to be able to visualize what that will mean for the organization on a day-to-day level.

Chances are, you’ll have a number of workstreams on the go at any point. They’ll be managed by multiple teams, managers and employees against varying timelines. So, it’s critical everyone knows what they should be doing.

If you’re to see the full benefits transformation can deliver, you’ll need clear, consistent, effective communication about what matters. The team involved should have a shared understanding of how to map people and skills to positions within your desired future state. Ultimately, this is easier to do when the plan is visual and not buried on a tab deep inside a spreadsheet.

Turning transformation from one-off to always-on

Too many businesses face a revolving door of large transformation initiatives. These programs are launched to great fanfare, and involve a huge amount of work and commitment, only to be replaced when they underperform against objectives. This can be costly in both budget and morale.

Today, transformation should be more a case of continual improvement, innovation and evolution than an all-change big bang event. It’s a process of establishing the end goal, implementing key changes and then adapting over time.

Of course, achieving this means having effective measurement capabilities in place. These should clearly show how your organization is performing against the baseline you established at the outset and the targets you’re working towards.

This will enable you to course-correct over time and minimize the disruption these kinds of transformation projects inevitably cause.

Meeting the challenge of change

Delivering transformational change across a large business is a significant challenge. It demands effective alignment of people, processes, technology and leadership. But, despite the skeptical view often taken in the press, with the right approach, it is possible to transform even the largest organization to become more agile, customer-focused and competitive in the market.

Read the next article in the series about business transformation, about making change stick.

Read more about business transformation

In a world where the only constant is change, organizations thrive by continually adapting to capitalize on new opportunities and fend off challenges.

In this new reality, there’s no place for large-scale business transformations. Instead, an evolutionary approach to change is needed that’s more discrete and more frequent.

Building the adaptive enterprise: how to run an effective business transformation program

To help you make your business transformation a success, we’ve published a new guide. Download your copy to learn:

• Why making change happen (and making it stick) is so difficult

• How to achieve the clarity you need to move forward with confidence

• How to quickly explore different design options and identify the best one for your organization

• How to translate your strategy into what people actually do on a daily basis

• How to stay on track and ensure everyone else comes with you on the journey