What do we mean by change?
Our lead UK change consultant, Rob McCracken is providing an insight into change projects and how to successfully implement one.
Today, Rob is our Lead Change Consultant at Curium Solutions UK. Back in 2008, Rob joined EON energy’s undergraduate scheme doing HR and corporate management, destined for a career in HR… or so he thought.
He quickly realized during the scheme that his skills lay elsewhere. Whilst dealing with disciplinaries, grievance, sickness, absence etc. he realized what he really wanted to do, was make a difference with people; getting people on board with changes and influence their behaviors.
“I wanted to affect that change and feel as though I was adding value to the business.
And everybody can add value to the business. Somebody who’s selling , making sure everyone’s happy, making sure people are paid. I wanted to add even more value.
If I can make everybody 15% better, I’m adding far more value in a business.”
Rob moved into project lead and his first task was implementing a knowledge management system. A self-service platform that manages payroll, changes to contracts, recruitment etc.
The implementation failed.
Learning from failure
The system implementation and performance worked perfectly. The program worked exactly how he had expected because of the rounds of testing it had undergone. So, what went wrong?
“The people didn’t want to make the changes, for one. There were aspects of putting it in that I hadn’t thought about.
I had told everyone about the new system, but they hadn’t fully understood what was happening.”
People first. The oversight was assuming people will just adapt to the change the company has introduced. The truth is, people are complex creatures. Change in day-to-day tasks, behaviors, routines, company structure and size, all land differently depending on the person receiving the message and its mode of delivery.
Rob joined the Change team and began launching new products, applying valuable lessons he had learnt from past projects.
Applying your skills in different industries
To be clear, ‘change’ is a huge scope of shifts a company may undergo. Including (but not limited) to:
- Mergers and/or acquisitions
- Joint Ventures
- Restructuring/ downsizing
- Outsourcing/ insourcing
- ERP Implementation (large system implementation e.g. CRM, SCM, etc)
- Supply Chain issues
Taking place across any and all industries. So, how do you get those pipelines to work?
“One of the most important things to understand, what is the business model? How is the company making money?
Understanding what drives value within the company is critically important.
I’d start by spending time, on the road, or in the contact center to see what’s happening and to get a feel for it. This gives you an appreciation of the business.”
Project delivery, people first.
Let’s use the example of implementing a knowledge management system.
Rob’s first questions are always why are you implementing it? What results are you expecting?
This way, you can identify whether a system implementation is indeed the best solution to the problem. If you need to save costs, for example.
“If the system can get 50% of the call center queries handled via self-service system, the company has saved cost.”
The next step is to do a business impact assessment.
“A business impact assessment assesses the implication on your customer, your policy, your people, the training they need and their systems – you will run into a big issue.”
An important skill for our change consultants is ‘relationship versus task’.
“Imagine you’re thrown a surprise party. Do you remember who was standing where, what color the balloons were and what food was on the table? – No, but you’ll always remember that feeling when you walked in.”
The same concept applies to people who are part of a change project. Fast forward six months, what do they remember from the requirements process? The slides they saw, the paper you handed out?
No – it’ll be the ease (or difficulty) of the transition. The feeling it was under control and beneficial to them.
It’s not about delivering a document, it’s about putting in place a process where you feel as though, with the time constraints you’ve got, that you’ve gone through a process leaving people in a great place and wanting to own those requirements after.
Making sure people feel in control and are left with the tools to sustain the change after we step away from the project.
“A relationship is a bit like a bank.
If you’ve got credit in the bank and you draw out $10, no problem. But if you’ve got a minus balance and you draw out $10, there’s a strain on your finances.”
We always ensure that we’re not straining the relationship with the companies we’re supporting. We provide necessary tools, tips and guidance wherever possible. We share our thoughts and remain transparent throughout the project so that there’s never any nasty surprises.