Transforming your operational workstreams? Don’t forget change management!

Posted On by Michelle Stölting

Transformation is high on everyone’s agenda these days, companies are busy preparing their organisation for the future. This entails digitising their products and services, streamlining internal processes, automating to the max and optimising their cost structure. From our experience in Quote-to-Cash programmes, we have seen that change management is key in making these transformations successful. Transforming without effective communication is prone to failure. Allow us to share some tips on how to ensure the transformation does work.

Resistance to change is inherent in most human beings, we don’t want the normal order to be disturbed, so it takes quite an effort to have an entire organisation change direction. When a company engages in a Quote-to-Cash programme, hardly any department can escape this change. Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance,… they will all have to adapt their behaviour to new processes and tools. International research shows that 60% to 70% of organisational change programmes fail. Obviously, statistics, like these, are a danger to any transformation programme. But let’s balance that with a positive statistic, 81% of programmes with good change management come in under budget. Based on our experience, what can you do to tackle change management the right way?

1. Set a strategy and prepare well

Here’s another statistic, only 20% of companies overcome a lack of transformational strategy. So it’s imperative to set the right strategy for your transformation and change management. When you embark on a transformational programme, set a clear vision for the entire organisation and analyse the impact the change will have on the company. This change impact analysis allows you to define where you will need to direct most of your communication efforts in the programme. Just as indispensable is identifying the stakeholders (so you know how to align them) and assessing the skills gaps (so you can offer the right training to the people impacted). In a Quote-to-Cash programme, you will zoom in on the entire process, from scoping the programme to improving the adoption rate, and focus on how it will disrupt people’s usual way of working.

2. Designate a change leader

Change ambassadors have a huge impact, the higher the position of your change leader, the bigger your chance of success. Almost half of the change programmes that have the CEO as an executive sponsor of the programme, succeed. For this role, you will need a bridge-builder, who can seek sponsorship in all different departments. A Quote-to-Cash programme impacts many people throughout the organisation. It’s best if you find a more neutral figure like the CEO to make sure that all friction between departments is handled properly.

3. Embed change into the programme

Change management is not a separate programme, it needs to happen simultaneously with your Quote-to-Cash transformation. Change management is a long process that starts as soon as you start planning your transformational programme, and it only ends when the programme has been deployed and starts showing tangible results. Change management occurs at the right roles and at the right time. So just like any other programme, you will first plan the change, then analyse the change and finally implement it. During the implementation phase, you will execute the reorganisation and take care of upskilling the employees that are taking on a new role. By implementing change management every step along the way, it will come as a natural part of the entire transformation, not as a separate programme that is bolted onto the transformation. This way, you will continue to generate excitement in the organisation, celebrating quick wins to keep everyone motivated.

4. Measure the results

Just as important as measuring the results of the overall transformation, is measuring how effective your change management was. After all, change management comes at a cost – even if you execute it through your own staff – so you will obviously assess its return on investment (ROI). Measuring the impact of your change efforts can, for instance, be done through surveys that validate the KPIs you set at the beginning of the programme. Measuring results is not only important for your current programme, but circulating the positive results makes it easier to invest in change management for any new programme coming along.

5. Seek outside help

Many organisations have a dedicated change management team, but when this is not the case, change management is something that can be contracted out as well. Often it makes sense to bring in outsiders to assist in change management exercises. As an outsider, for example, it is sometimes easier to assess how ripe the organisation is for change, what gaps need to be filled to get to the readiness that is required, etc. At 4C, change management is part of our Advisory offering and we have developed a comprehensive set of services that apply change management to any Quote-to-Cash or other transformational programme.

Digital transformation is not an incremental change, it brings a fundamentally different way of working for an entire organisation, and often even a change in company culture at tactical level. As market research analyst firm Gartner puts it: “The secret to digital, is analogue.” In other words: people. Changing company culture without taking the human psyche into consideration is organisational suicide. Implementing Quote-to-Cash is a transversal operation with implications for the entire company. All the more reason to bet big on change management to augment its success.