How to prepare for an organizational transformation

31 August 2021 5 min. read
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With change a constant in economy and society, organizations continuously embark on transformation to gain a competitive advantage or address a significant challenge. But how do you prepare for such (major) change? Alpana Shirgaonkar, a Senior Executive Director at Nexdigm (SKP), outlines some of the key elements that should be considered.

The process of organizational transformation – which can be very demanding on leadership and teams on the work floor – has become even more critical for several industries during the recent pandemic. At a time of unprecedented change, and a new normal emerging from the pandemic, many businesses need to adapt their strategies, operating models and ways of working to future-proof their organization.

Organizational transformation can act as a catalyst by changing behavioral patterns of employees, introducing more robust processes or by introducing a new technology into the organization. If executed well, these forms of transformation improve a company’s lifespan.

Every organization is at different stages in its transformation journey. The degree to which they are entrenched in this process depends on internal and external factors unique to their business venture.

Technology is not a transformation

While there are several parameters to streamline if one has to execute a successful transformation, a key parameter nowadays is technology.

At times, people confuse transformation with the implementation of technology. Organizations often assume buying the latest software will give them profitable results, but they miss the mark because they often fail to prepare in the right manner. Though artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation may facilitate a transformation, it is not the only criteria.

Expecting technology to immediately provide significant results without preparing to invest in understanding deeper problems or training/streamlining employees to the new technology is similar to going to a gym and not knowing how to properly use the equipment.

Any transformation requires knowledge of impact areas, a customized, phased approach, and time to integrate with other systems. Merely purchasing automation software or new technology without full knowledge or preparation for its application often results in inaccurate outputs, excessive time for implementation, and other inconsistencies.

Further reading: Study of 900 digital transformations: Only 30% are successful.

What transformational readiness actually constitutes

When an organization wants to execute a transformation, its leaders must inspect each and every aspect of the new microcosm before going forward with implementation. An overview of the key consideration points before undertaking an organizational transformation:

What transformational readiness actually constitutes

Understanding core problems and their interlinkages: It is necessary to understand the main challenges that the organization is facing before undertaking a transformation. In most cases, the transformation can substantially help. However, without understanding the main challenge, the kind of transformation may not be accurately identified.

Project Plan: Before you begin your transformation journey, you need to have a comprehensive project plan that covers priority processes, people training, investment, and identify the roles and responsibilities of the leadership team spearheading this change.

Budget: Procure a firm commitment from the organization on the budget. You need a clear-cut budget for process transformation which covers the cost of the new tools and technology, customization costs, new compliance requirements, trainings, and other contingencies.

Vendor Selection: A trustworthy vendor is essential when opting for any form of transformation. You need to assess the vendor's approach, existing client base, and ability to understand your unique organizational needs.

Allocating resources: You need to identify champions from your team who will support the transformation process. Ideally, these should be members of the leadership team or organizational influencers. This will help create a ripple effect throughout the organization when the identified influencers begin to exhibit changed behavior, adopt more efficient processes, or imbibe new technologies into their daily routine.

Tool selection: Once you have identified the processes than need to be transformed, you have identified the opportunity to deploy a technology to help make the process efficient. It is essential to have a clear idea of what you are looking for, your unique business-specific nuances, non-negotiable features, etc. The selection of the right tool is half the battle won.

Upskilling: While business transformations will result in freeing up the bandwidth of your human resources in the long-run, it is essential that these resources are made aware of the requirement and correct usage.

Upskilling must be accounted into the transformation process before expecting significant returns. The increased competency also allays fears of unemployment while simultaneously building a better functional team.

Implementation partner: One of the biggest challenges in organizational transformation is the rarity of in-house experts who can oversee the whole process with assurance. This person/team must have a holistic understanding of the technology, the lay of the land, as well as the distinct business requirements of your organization.

They are also expected to work collaboratively with your team. It is preferable to join forces with an experienced partner who knows the intricacies of business transformation.