23 May 5 Top Tips for Planning and Implementing a Business Transformation
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” – Charles Darwin
Any business, big or small, goes through business transformations within its development. These can be anything from new structure to new software. In this post I am going to share with you my top tips for helping your business transformations run as smoothly as possible.
Planning is the key
One thing I was told a lot at school was that – Failing to plan is planning to fail – and whilst we all know not everything will always run to plan in business having a clear schedule for your transformation is vital. You may as well be realistic with your timelines as failing to deliver what you promised on time could jeopardise your integrity with the rest of your business. Most people would agree it is better to under promise and over deliver than fail to deliver on time. If you are relying on something to be developed or created to enforce your transformation make sure you account for potential delays and know when all the systems will be ready before communicating any dates.
I truly believe that planning is key but always be aware to plan for mistakes, plan for delays and plan for the unplannable.
With any big change or transformation to a business there comes an element of emotion. You can capture these early thoughts by running mini surveys, this will help you understand where your biggest areas of concern are. The easiest way to negate any negative feelings towards any changes is to be transparent and communicate everything as openly as possible with the rest of the business. Preparing people for a change is as important as the change itself. Whilst gorilla marketing campaigns for some business changes can be effective normally people are interested in how they will be personally effected. Targeted messages explaining the transformation details and timelines should be used to ensure people are on board with the changes before they are enforced.
Define the scope of training and your audience early
Most business transformations will require some form of training to take place. First of all, you must highlight what is in scope for training and who needs to be trained in each specific area. Secondly you need to decide who is going to facilitate the training, sometimes people opt for a third party to create and deliver any relevant training. Once both these things have been agreed upon, schedule any classroom training early allowing people to prepare and book out time in their diaries.
Training is probably the most vital thing when it comes to business transformations. There are so many ways to train people these days and although there are many statistics telling you the most effective training methods, a variety is always the best. Effective training comes when people are fully engaged. No two people learn in exactly the same way, there are visual, aural, verbal, physical and many more types of learners. Make sure you mix up your training styles, incorporate videos, different teaching methods and allow people to practice on any systems.
Face to face training is important but sometimes e-learning can be as effective if not even better. Statistics say that online learning has a 25-60% retention rate compared to an 8-10% retention rate for classroom learning. Not only is e-learning supposed to be more effective statistics say that it is also more efficient, typically requiring 40-60% less employee time.
I find the easiest way to get people engaged in training is to make the training as realistic as possible by creating a narrative. Include real life examples and ask the user to follow a scenario from start to finish. To understand more on how to engage people in training read my colleague Ellie’s blog; Supplier Training: A corner piece of the engagement jigsaw puzzle.
Understanding the reason and benefits behind the change
As we are all only humans there is typically resistance to change. There can be many reasons for this like misunderstanding the consequences, a fear of the unknown, a lack of consultation. However, all of these can be combated with explanation. Whilst we all know people like familiarity and a routine if something is going to benefit them and these benefits are made clear most people can get on board. People don’t just want to know what is changing, people want to know why. Sometimes what is being changed seems like a perfectly good thing, giving people a true understanding of the reasons behind any business transformation will allow a much smoother journey to take place.
At S4RB we believe that two pillars of any engagement are transparency and understanding. This is essential for all supplier engagement projects that we work on. It is just as true for any transformation project supporting internal associates and private brand suppliers with clear communications. These communications should include not just for the reasons for change, but also the benefits of change, and (as above) making it relevant to the person in question, so that they know how it affects them.
With any business change, there are hurdles to overcome. The measure of your success in handling these changes should not be how few challenges you have had but instead how well you have overcome those challenges. In the words of Benjamin Franklin “Once you are finished changing, you are finished”, do not be afraid of a business change, instead embrace it and hopefully my top tips for implementing this change will help you to succeed.