Change is a constant, given the shifts that external markets are constantly undergoing, and because businesses are always seeking new ways and strategies to support growth and profitability. Often, it’s a simple matter of survival, with businesses needing to adapt to evolving markets and conditions in order to maintain their competitive position.
Any time you are promoting or pushing through a different way of doing things, change management is required to engage with and get all the various key stakeholder groups on board and smooth the transition. The best laid plans and most persuasive business cases can flounder and fail dismally – and publicly – as a result of mismanaged change. News stories are littered with examples.
Shared Services = Change
With businesses increasingly moving to a Shared Services-based delivery model, the resulting implementation often involves and requires significant upheaval. In an ideal situation, the end user (internal business customer) suffers little to no inconvenience or interruption in service as a result of the handover. However, this requires laying the groundwork carefully, investing in appropriate training, and managing expectations. Effectively, you are targeting a transition that maintains business stability and supports company values while delivering the Shared Services business case. Bearing in mind that customers show a low tolerance for lengthy stabilization periods, the faster you can transition from A to B, the better. A robust Change Management framework will support you on this journey.
It is important to maintain contact with the client throughout all stages of transition. Initiate Change Management early and take a proactive approach to get results. Chazey’s experience of delivering change across a multitude of industries and organizations has confirmed that early prioritization of Change Management is essential for developing, securing, and maintaining sponsorship and stakeholder buy in.
Figure 1, below, summarizes Chazey’s best practice Design Approach and Methodology throughout the lifecycle of a Shared Services implementation:
Figure 1: Shared Services Implementation Approach & Methodology
Noteworthy in this summary is the fact that Communication is highlighted in each of the five stages (see also the “Communication Strategy” section, below) and that there is extensive engagement with internal users and customers through a range of techniques, including stakeholder interviews, workshops, transition plans, etc.
Core Factors for Successful Change Management:
1. Stakeholder Identification and Management
Stakeholder Identification and Management is a critical Change Management activity, and should be undertaken together with the client. It serves three related key purposes (see also Figure 2):
a) It ensures that all key stakeholders for the project are identified.
b) It determines the level of support for the project across the organization.
c) It provides significant input to the Communication Strategy and Plan, based on awareness of stakeholders and their requirements.
Figure 2: Effective Stakeholder Management
Stakeholders should also be evaluated as to their impact and potential influence over change, and the level of support they may offer to a project. The table below offers some tips in identifying your different stakeholder groups. Based on these considerations, you can plan appropriate communications campaigns for individual groups.
Figure 3: Stakeholder Analysis
2. Communication Strategy
Communication support is a constant requirement throughout a Shared Services project. A strong, consistent, and reliable communications strategy will support smooth transition, no matter how complex the process. Communication requirements will be driven by project activities, key milestones and the needs of key stakeholders, which will have been identified at the start of the project. In all communications, be clear about your purpose and intent; know which stakeholder audience you are targeting and what you aim to achieve with the communication; and ensure you are using the correct types and channels for communication.
A detailed Communication Plan should be developed and reviewed regularly to ensure it is effective and meets the needs of stakeholders. The Communication Plan thus provides a roadmap for messages, audiences, communicators, and channels during the lifetime of the project. It should be prescriptive about the timing of messages, aligning them with key project activities/dates. The Plan is a ‘living’ document, and so will respond to changing needs and circumstances. It should be updated with each new project phase, or as requirements change.
An effective and successful Communication strategy is based on remembering the “Three C’s”:
- Communication: this is the message you are transmitting, generally one way
- Consultation: the recipient can influence and impact the message, but you have the ultimate veto over the information and final outcome
- Collaboration: you and the recipient work together and neither has final control over the output. You “share” the final outcome.
As part of a best practice communications strategy, you should hold regular calls with clients, offer interactive forums where desirable, review the communications based on these meetings, distinguish between internal and external clients, and survey both client bases regularly (see also Figure 4, below):
Figure 4: Communication Mechanism
3. Employee Transition Plan
The Employee Transition Plan sets out a recommended strategy and approach for transitioning the client to the new operating model while factoring in employee transitions as determined by the new model’s needs. The plan’s aim is to minimize risks to the business during transition, and support the deployment of employees into the new center(s), while also managing any redundancies or redeployments that arise as a result of the transition.
Specifically, the plan determines the impact on individual roles as a result of this change, considers legal implications, prepares for redundancy where required, plans redeployments where appropriate, and manages desired employee retentions.
The Transition phase includes recruiting and training, where necessary, to supplement existing skillsets.The Recruitment Plan determines the roles to be recruited, a timescale, and lists recruitment sources and options. A holistic training plan should be developed in collaboration with HR and the client, and should encompasses process, technical requirements, customer service, line management development, and induction.
Change Management is commonly overlooked or granted only “nice to have” status – as opposed to recognizing that it forms a critical and vital enabler of strategic change. As such, Change Management should form a crucial part of any and every Shared Services implementation or optimization.
If you believe that you could benefit from additional support in this area, or for any questions and comments, please get in touch with Chazey’s practitioners via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Chazey’s website.