Six Steps to Improve Your Business Transformation Projects

plansteamproject31125When introducing a new or changed process, failing to follow a proven “one-two” approach to manage staff engagement can create staff resistance. Many IT and business leaders forget that every process requires evaluation before, during, and after it transitions to operation. Evaluation must also include performance of staff and management. Often forgotten are the human resource efforts required to support the process—job description revisions, training, performance reviews, coaching, compensation changes, etc.

Avoid the “usual” process introduction approach of giving staff a copy of the process at a short meeting and then expecting success. Engaging staff requires a top-down and bottom-up approach. Our research identifies six basic requirements for successful process introduction spanning these two broad areas. The top-down activities include involving your staff in the development, deployment, and improvement of the new process. Bottom-up tasks include supervisory and incentive systems to enforce compliance. Engaging your staff—as you show firm commitment to the process—is one proven way to set the stage for business agility, innovation, and revenue growth.

It’s important to analyze your current process planning. Does it work for your current transformation project? Does staff follow your processes or routinely avoid them? Do you have in place defined job roles that reference process adherence? Does your supervisory staff measure and manage based on the defined requirements? If you are like most, the answers to these questions are “not usually.”

Assume that currently, process designers implement process without communication to, or conversations with, affected staff. Further assume that current process definitions do not include supervisory or job-task measurements. Finally, take for granted that managers do not include process adherence in regular employee performance reviews.

Investigate how your teams and managers operate to ensure a new or changed process will deliver its intended value. Assess the presence of the following six basic requirements for process success. Skipping these requirements accounts for most process failures. They are not in linear order, and they are cyclical in nature:

  1. Develop and Articulate a Vision: Use an important or new service as the context for a process change and what it will look like when complete. Failure often arises because the intended process user does not understand the big picture.
  2. Plan and Provide Resources: Ensure that you and your management staff provide the groundwork and assets required for successful process introduction.
  3. Invest in Training and Development: Avoid the common process introduction approach of 1) giving staff a copy of the process, 2) providing an hour or two of orientation, and 3) assuming the new process will achieve its design goals. Train staff (and managers) in the tasks required of each.
  4. Assess or Monitor Progress: Design uptake and adherence goals for staff and management and include them in the process design. Monitor performance relative to these goals.
  5. Provide Continuous Assistance: Based on your assessment in Step 4, intervene with coaching, guidance, and support as needed. Success is much higher—and better received by staff—when assessment includes constructive assistance.
  6. Create a Context Conducive to Change: Connecting the process to business values sets the stage for shared understanding and a culture of shared accomplishment.

Start now by committing to these six steps for all business transformation projects, process designs, or large-scale changes. Begin with quick-win solutions that address major elements from the above list and encourage a culture that is accountable, supports originality, and rewards involvement. Use tools to promote communication and learning, including informational seminars for staff, including customers, providers, business, and IT at all appropriate levels and staff as appropriate. Show your commitment with assistance as well as linking staff (and management) performance evaluations to process success metrics.

Related Courses:
Collaborative Leadership Skills for Managers
Leadership Skills and Team Development for IT and Technical Professionals
Project Management, Leadership, and Communication

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