Three key tips for implementing customer transformation

by Marty Nicholas

by Genevieve Marsh

It’s no secret that organisations tend to be more focused on the design stage of a transformation project. This initial phase is energising, because it’s the starting point for imagining the future state and ‘what could be’. However, without disciplined follow through and a sound implementation approach, things become increasingly difficult when it comes time to actually implement changes. Here are three tips, drawn from our observations of other organisations who are doing well, which are proven to help keep you on track.

While transformation leaders can typically identify the ideal future state and a high-level roadmap for successful implementation, in reality it gets tricky when it comes to defining the activities, resources and capabilities required to get there.
 
Fortunately, thanks to first-mover organisations who have forged the path and navigated many of the common operationalisation challenges, we now have a better grasp on what successful transformation looks like. Best practice examples are emerging of how you can get critical results early and build momentum and capability, while staying aligned to the original intent of the transformation.

“Typically, organisations trip up because they have been more focused on the initial stages of transformation.”


To ensure that your organisation is set up for success, it is crucial to consider the transformation as a holistic, end-to-end journey. Typically, organisations trip up because they have been more focused on the initial stages, emphasising the design phase to ensure that they have a detailed plan for reaching their desired future state. However, when focusing too heavily on these initial phases, organisations later realise that they either run out of steam or are underprepared for the vital stages of package design, implementation, and embedding.

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Getting the first two steps of a transformation project right is crucial in setting up for success. Firstly, ‘baselining and current state assessment’ is extremely important for an organisation beginning transformation needing to understand their current state. The next step; ‘high-level future state design and roadmap’ is important in order to create a clear vision of the future state, and then outline the key milestones needed to achieve it. A high-level future state design includes addressing the current state gaps with conceptual solutions, in order to have a more realistic view of what the change project is working towards. The roadmap then serves to outline the steps needed to achieve this future state.
 
Although not immediately recognisable as crucial steps, it is during these crucial final three stages of transformation – where implementation comes to life – that organisations begin to realise the true value of their change agenda. These stages are also typically the most difficult within which to maintain leadership momentum, focus, and employee buy-in, and are therefore even more important to execute correctly. 
 
The third step, is to identify the quick wins in your change agenda and organise them into change packages. Tangible, ongoing improvement through delivering a better customer and employee experience will not only allow the transformation to retain momentum, but will also deliver financial value and help the project to become self-sustainable. To do this, all key shifts must be packaged and sequenced into logical workstreams around people, process, and technology. Implementation at this stage will then focus on the ‘doing’, by rolling out change packages in the most efficient order. Organisations should then focus on embedding, looking at transformation not as an end goal, but as a state of continuous improvement, as this mindset empowers businesses to consistently improve.
 
The key to a successful end-to-end transformation is to ensure that enterprises can operationalise and execute on their design. As a result, the ability to translate design into implementation and operationalise customer-centric change is emerging as a key competitive advantage. The following three tips outline how to successfully delve into implementation, and assist you with realising benefits faster. 

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TIP ONE: Approach implementation in an agile, packaged way
Often, businesses struggle with implementation because they approach it from the opposing extremes of either agile or waterfall project methodologies. Agile lacks a strategic, future-focused vision, and waterfall offers an extremely long-term view of the future state that fails to account for a dynamic journey. We instead recommend to our clients that they take a grounded and moderate approach across an 18 to 24-month timeframe. This allows organisations to find a sweet spot between both methodologies; benefiting from both the dynamic approach of agile, and the strategic, detailed design of waterfall. To bring this to life, the first step is to define packages of people, process, and technology across a logically sequenced roadmap, and execute these packages through agile sprints.
 
TIP TWO: Ensure appropriate support throughout transformation
The next element that we have observed across successful transformation projects is to ensure that the project has appropriate leadership and capability support. This means first ensuring that change is business-owned and governed and resisting the urge to drive simple technology changes without the necessary business ownership. The next is to ensure that resourcing is based on capability and capacity gaps for maximum efficiency, assigning transformation responsibilities to future leaders who can build a future state skills and mindset. Finally, investing in change leadership cannot be underestimated as leadership is needed to drive a shared purpose.
 
TIP THREE: Remain engaged with transformation journey
Keeping the journey on course by tracking and managing the project is the final step for implementing transformation successfully. The most effective way for remaining engaged with the desired outcomes is to design dashboards that track lead and lag indicators of the project, linking to measures of both customer and employee success. To ensure proper embedding, you will need to empower employees to have ownership of the change agenda. Setting up a continuous feedback loop with management is one way to foster a culture of continuous improvement.
 
Do these tips address the issues that you have faced while navigating your implementation phase? We’re confident that using the above approach will equip you with a more practical way to successfully delve into the implementation side of your transformation project, and help you realise value faster.

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