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Seven ways enterprises can navigate through true business transformation

14 May 2019
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Article by Signavio co-founder and CEO, Dr. Gero Decker.

Most companies today fail to create an engine for change within their organisation. An engine for change that enables them to power through true business transformation - both now and into the future. 

This is not a one-off project or initiative that ticks a box but in reality leads organisations to merely do the wrong things faster and cheaper. I’m pointing to an engine for change that causes a real shift in organisational thinking.

Business transformation

Business transformation is an ongoing and consistent cycle that requires buy-in from employees, continuous support from senior management, and a normalised and repeatable method and approach. 

It is a highly critical business function because while it may be a hard pill to swallow, what got organisations to where they are today is not likely to get them to where they want and need to go. 

Here are seven ways organisations can successfully navigate through the complex but valuable process of business transformation. 

Envision and motivate

Before an organisation embarks on a journey of business transformation their employees need to know what they are aiming for, what is required of them, and crucially, why. A holistic picture of why transformation is necessary must be established and relevant stakeholders will need to be carefully considered to ensure ongoing participation and commitment. 

Document and prioritise

Clear, goal-oriented target models ensure everyone is clear and aligned on the direction and purpose of the work required. The first of numerous versions of the target state model are produced as an organisation experiments with ideas and gathers feedback and input from stakeholders. For example, the details and flows of work and value-within and between teams and functions-are defined in a collaborative way. From here, a company can begin to assess key priorities and form a plan of action for how transformation will be approached.

Analyse and design

There is no room for ‘that is how we have always done it’ thinking. Once priorities and a plan of action have been established, it is now time for an organisation to undertake fit/gap analysis activities to identify current and future states, and what is required to close the existing gaps. Customer journey maps will explicitly map out and design what is required to ensure the transformed state is lean, customer-focused and pragmatic. Qualitative input, quantitative data and continuous iteration will also be drawn upon to ensure the target model is achieved.

Share and refine

‘Measure twice, cut once.’ A company must validate widely and refine its model ahead of implementation. This is achieved by welcoming input from a broad audience and a willingness to listen to and incorporate changes and feedback. The more an organisation conveys that changes occurred because of a suggestion from an employee, the more engaged and invested they will become in the business transformation journey. This is where the magic happens.

Develop and implement

During the implementation stage, an organisation must build in practices that support transparency and bi-directional communication flow, so that traditional organisational silos are broken down and closer collaboration is made achievable. Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction. Here, generating business requirements will connect IT to how business and customer goals are achieved; make it easier to test systems; and convey what is inside and outside of scope for more effective outcomes. 

Educate and communicate

Benefits that stem from new business transformation processes will only be realised once an organisation as a whole starts to adapt to the new behaviours. This is especially important in industries where a company has frequent customers or buyers, as they are likely to have been used to things operating in a certain way and may not always appreciate the difference - how staff interacts with them in these “moments of truth” will decide the outcome. An organisation cannot over communicate. Customers need to know where to find any new information and be educated on new practices, as well as the reasons behind them. A detailed communication plan is recommended to address what the message that needs to be conveyed is, the cadence to be used, and the different mediums it will be distributed through. 

Measure and improve

Success occurs when transformation begins to yield the planned-for results. However, organisations should not confuse initial negative results with failure. A company’s people and systems might have taken years to get to the old levels of productivity, so they must be given ample time to get used to the new ways of working. Top level management must make iterative small changes based on feedback, take full advantage of the data they produce and track variance or compliance by comparing the “as-implemented” process with the “as-intended” process. As has been consistent throughout the business transformation process, insights should always be available and accessible to welcome ongoing input and feedback.