Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, organizations were faced with challenges pointing to the need to rethink strategies and business models. Pressures resulting from trends in digitisation and customer behaviour have now been amplified and are in many cases demanding a “re-set” in the way that organizations operate. Firstly, businesses need to develop a vision and strategy to take the organization forward. Executing the re-set will frequently require the implementation of a major organizational transformation program. History tells us that organizational transformations do not have a very good success rate.
Transformation programs are, by definition, complex beasts and many factors need to work together to achieve a successful transformation. One of these critical success factors is ensuring that the program starts out on the right footing by spending the right amount of time and effort to set the program up for success.
In addition to detailed planning of the work required to achieve the objectives and outcomes of the transformation program there are at least three other areas, sometimes collectively referred to as the Transformation Office, that require focused attention:
- Value Management
- Program Management
- Organizational Change Management
Transformation programs can get so focused on producing outputs, generating new applications, or sticking to a pre-defined schedule that the creation of business value could be left by the wayside. Dedicated resources that are not directly involved in delivery of the program should be put in place to ensure that business value is adequately defined, baselines are set, value drivers identified and progress towards the delivery of business value actively tracked. It may be beneficial to accelerate, delay, substitute or even stop parts of the program to maximise value - without an in-depth understanding and robust processes for value management, business value can be eroded very quickly.
Program management disciplines are well established in the capital project environment. However, this is not always true for transformation projects. Due to their unique requirements, effort is required to ensure that appropriate strategies, processes and structures are in place to manage the program’s scope, schedule and cost. Identifying areas where an agile implementation approach can be employed can unlock significant value. Setting up streamlined governance and decision-making processes, with clear decision accountability and planning for decision-making, are extremely important as delays in decision-making can cause severe setbacks. Managing risks, issues and actions in a consistent way at all levels of the program also have an important role to play.
Organizational Change Management
Designing new business processes, systems and structures is only one half of a transformation program. If the new ways of work are not adopted and implemented by the workforce, intended benefits will not be achieved. The role that an organisation’s leadership plays in creating an enabling environment for change is often overlooked. Getting them on board and actively setting them up as change leaders throughout the transformation – not only when it is time for implementation – can play a significant role in the success of the program. At the same time, there needs to be an investment in creating a change network and creating capacity for change throughout the organisation. Right from the start, actions for training, establishing change agents, communication and answering questions about the transformation should be developed and implemented.
Organisational transformation programs are complex and difficult to implement successfully. Putting in place the essential elements of a transformation office can make a significant contribution to the successful implementation of transformation programs. Make sure that you position yourself for a successful transformation, creating an organization that is ready to face the challenges of the future world of work.
Written by Tjaart Coetzee