Discussions have been increasingly common about the need for companies to move their processes into a digital environment in order to function at a profitable and efficient level. The concern then becomes how they should make this transformation, because the ‘how’ is just as important as the change itself. In my last post, I began a discussion into the reasons an unbiased third-party can help companies achieve their business transformation goals significantly better than going it alone. In addition to much improved odds (anywhere from 10% to 90%, depending on the project and situation), I discussed the value of objectivity for a successful project. Today, I will conclude this 2-part post with a discussion about the additional value that an unbiased third-party, such as a consultant, can bring to the table. The advantages someone who can provide an objective and well-defined project focus.
We’ve all lived through the fizzle of at least one major business initiative. From rousing kickoff to slow, whimpering death, it’s a scenario that plays out over and over again. The fallout is real and significant. Letting a major project die on the vine deals a serious blow to morale, but when a second or a third initiative meets its end, employees begin to question leadership and look at any future change movements with well-deserved skepticism. I’m not assigning blame here, just pointing out reality as we all know it to be.
Most major initiatives die because they lose momentum. They lose momentum for several reasons. The most common momentum killer is changing priorities; the project priority loses focus as other more pressing issues arise and must be dealt with. Regardless of what’s most pressing, there is always a new, very important project just around the corner; one that will only take a few days, a couple of weeks at most, to complete and get out the door. Surely you can put your transformation project on the back burner for a few days. String a few of these shiny objects together and a few days turns into weeks, then months and, before you know it, the original initiative is dead.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a way to keep the momentum strong, like it was at kickoff, but the company has to be willing to welcome an outsider. The key is to trust that this one person will drive the project and hold everyone involved – from the C-suite to the mail room – accountable for doing their part.
Business transformation is a long-term project and shifting priorities aren’t going to go away. But with the laser focus and guidance from an objective third-party whose only priority is your transformation project, keeping the team engaged becomes much easier.
Engaging a third party means having a project manager who is not beholden to any one person, department or process. They come into your company with a level of objectivity that is critical and cannot be matched by anyone on the inside. In addition, they are experienced in executing business transformation projects and know how to navigate the rough waters that will arise. Just as important, because their job is to make sure your business transformation is a success, they will keep your team focused on the job at hand.
The consulting organization with which you engage will appoint a project manager. This Project Manager’s primary job will be to keep your transformation in focus and on track. Business transformation is a messy business. The project manager will have to lay facts on the table that may be hard to hear. Feathers may be ruffled, but achieving the goals of agility and sustainability require analysis that is deep, honest and objective. That’s a lot to ask of someone, especially if they are from your internal team. An external project manager can also often point out these facts in a manner that could otherwise be perceived as personal if it were done from within the company. This, again, helps to keep the project in focus and not allow it to become sidetracked by potential internal stresses.
While you may know your business transformation is needed, it is also vital to know the project will be done right. Lack of objectivity, and death due to loss of focus, and therefore momentum, are two of the most common reasons in-house transformation projects fail the majority of the time. Most of the other reasons can be solved by avoiding these two. The best way to avoid both is to find and hire a consulting organization that can manage your project.
The challenges you face during a business transformation are worth it if the end result is a successful project. The result can mean a more agile, competitive and sustainable business. Whether it is successful or not depends on how you approach the project.