Ready, Steady…Go! How to Manage Organisational Change Effectively
Change is inevitable, but as human beings, we find managing change extremely difficult. In general, we are creatures of habit and take comfort in knowing what’s next. This reality doesn’t correspond well with the constantly evolving business landscape. In 2020, the need to be reactive and adaptive has become even greater due to the significant business changes forced upon us by COVID-19. In order to react effectively to these changes, meet regulatory requirements, keep up with competitors and ultimately survive in a challenging market, banks reserve large budgets each year for largescale change programmes.
Change programmes are extremely complex, often encompassing a myriad of technology systems, processes, and people. The challenging demands and stress leading up to go-live can leave any good programme manager questioning ‘what have we forgotten?’ In many cases, what gets forgotten are the difficulties humans face in responding to change.
So, what can be done throughout the programme to assess if the organisation and its people are ready for the change?
Business Readiness refers to the business’s ability to implement what a project delivers. It is a measure of preparation which is used to ensure employees can efficiently move from one process or mindset to another.
A common mistake is to interpret Business Readiness as “the things that need to be ticked off in the ramp-up to go-live”. This negates the human factor so critical to success. A robust Business Readiness approach manages all those affected by the change to ensure they are fully equipped and supported with the tools and knowledge that are required prior, during and after implementation.
How can we help?
The BCS approach
Preparing your people for change is critical to successful delivery but is often overlooked until the latter stages of a programme’s lifecycle. At BCS Consulting, we have developed a Business Readiness approach that ensures people are an integral aspect of a change programme, from initiation through to implementation. Increasing effort on Business Readiness from the outset will likely be a key differentiator in a programme’s ability to deliver its intended value.
BCS Consulting follow a simple but effective 3 stage process, aligned to the project lifecycle, for assessing Business Readiness and delivering organisational change:
- Initial assessment to understand the programme environment and produce the Business Readiness Plan
- Managing implementation activities to ensure our clients and their employees are prepared for the target state
- Embedding change to help our clients reach go-live with confidence and successfully adopt the change
- Initial Assessment
Key activities, like our Change Impact Assessments and Stakeholder Engagement Model, will feed into a thorough initial assessment and form the basis of a Business Readiness plan. This will subsequently be supplemented with the development of a detailed, targeted communications and training plan. The added value of completing this assessment is uncovering business areas that had not been previously considered, or where the full impact was not fully understood by stakeholders.
- Managing Implementation
Change programmes usually require employees to do something differently, such as adopting a new process or system to replace their old ways of working. Therefore, communication and training undoubtedly play a key role in delivering successful implementations, since the way people are introduced to a new process or system, and how they learn to use it, may well be the only contact they have with the programme.
Delivering training that engages people, motivates them to embrace change and encourages improvement is a key differentiator between a well-embedded and a poorly-implemented project. Understanding the learning needs for the programme can be difficult, particularly when they affect multiple departments and geographies. By using our proven Training Needs Assessment framework, we analyse the what, when, and how employees need to be trained. This informs the strategic end-user training plan. We work with our clients to collectively decide on effective learning methods, and whether these are e-learning modules or face-to-face instructor-led training, we ensure that the delivery runs smoothly, often with our SMEs supporting.
It’s worth noting not all programmes require formal training, but an effective communication plan should always form a core component of a change initiative. If employees feel the change has crept up on them and therefore do not feel adequately informed, about the justifications behind it and its potential impact, then they are far less likely to be supportive of the programme as a whole.
A common mistake is to solely communicate when there is ‘something to say’. Taking this approach allows space for rumours and critics to perpetuate information that could be inaccurate and result in the programme losing control of its reputation and credibility. Whether perceived as positive or negative, communication should inform employees clearly and regularly. Be consistent, be honest, be timely and make sure you think about the change and communication from the perspective of the recipients.
- Embedding Change
An implementation plan is a key component in a successful go live, by helping ensure all the required activities to complete the project and handover to BAU teams are tracked. It makes certain that our clients have all the necessary information and tools readily available to make informed decisions leading up to go-live, by assessing readiness throughout implementation. This will involve assigning accountable owners and flagging any risks and issues early so we can address them ahead of planned releases, preventing any subsequent delays.
Business Readiness doesn’t end with go-live. The change has been implemented; the enhancement deployed, but now comes the hard part, ensuring our clients maximise their embedding and adoption approach. In order to do this, it is crucial to provide robust post go-live support and set SMART post go-live goals. Using our Post Implementation Review, we define success metrics at regular intervals post go-live and conduct reviews across a range of key performance indicators to measure success. This allows strategic interventions to be deployed to target certain regions, functions or processes which are not reaching the desired target state.
Why is Business Readiness important?
Used effectively, our Business Readiness approach is proven to achieve a smoother and more effective transition to BAU, with minimised disruption to customers and employees. By changing our mindset and focusing on business readiness from the outset, risks are identified and mitigated earlier, employees feel engaged and involved in the change process and desired outcomes are realised sooner. One of the challenges with change is ensuring that there is enough ‘air-traffic control’ so that change is drip-fed into the business in a controlled and orderly manner, BCS can provide oversight to ensure this managed appropriately.
BCS Consulting have extensive experience in supporting our clients to achieve successful implementations, from design and delivery of a programme, through to go-live support and beyond, and we have now added a readiness health check to assess existing Business Readiness plans as part of our comprehensive offerings throughout the project lifecycle. We can be flexible to support your change management needs – whether that’s by tailoring and implementing our Business Readiness approach into your entire change function, or by managing the Business Readiness for a specific, high profile project.