Welcome to the April 2015 edition of Afiniti’s Business Change newsletter. This month’s feature: Practical tips on benefits management and benefits realisation.
For more conversation on business change, you can join our Change Management, Communications and Learning group on LinkedIn here. For change management tips and our vacancies, you can follow our company page on LinkedIn.
Afiniti is an award-winning business change consultancy that delivers change with a people focus, producing sustainable changes in behaviour, mind-sets and working practices.
We welcomed Mark Wheeler to the team. Mark supports our PPM practice and brings capabilities in Business Process Improvement and change management. His industry expertise includes oil and gas and he has worked to deliver many large scale, complex change programmes.
We are currently recruiting for a permanent change communications consultant. Find out more here.
This month’s in depth article: Practical tips on delivering change and benefits management
Managing benefits using change management principles will show the current state clearly and the reason for the change, through to how the change will be managed and delivered to achieve business goals.
Identifying, tracking and ultimately realising benefits needs a range of tools and techniques. Here are some that will help you drive benefits realisation:
What does success look like? Soft benefits are always important but to justify the change and demonstrate business benefit, the trick here is to be as quantitative as possible. For instance, if you are implementing new technology, you might want figures to show how many people are using the system in what way. Most crucial – Does everyone agree on what success looks like?
- During Discovery, we tend to ask stakeholder groups what success means to them. We can make these conversations edgier by challenging them to actually quantify it (both hard and soft achievements).
- Gather and compare suggestions across stakeholder groups and use this input in a session with Programme leaders, to agree key achievements and their measures. This informs the change/comms approach and is communicated back across the Programme community. You will likely find that key stakeholder groups may have quite different and diverse views on what ‘success’ means. We find this useful for showing people early on what a journey is actually ahead.
Outline how you’ll measure success right from the start. Knowing the current state then comparing it to the desired state will help you measure progress throughout and benefit derived, after the project/programme finishes.
- Consider a storyboard to help people talk consistently about change describing ‘how things are now,’ outlining the risks of doing nothing. This keeps the reasons for the change, the current state and the future benefits in people’s minds.
- Illustrate the case for change with infographics which compare the business’ activity with what the competition’s doing. This can make the drivers for the change and the benefit sought really clear and imperative.
- Communicate the milestones for success across the stakeholder community through the programme newsletter for example, showing how each project is progressing against these milestones, with thermometer graphics or other visual indicators.
Roles and responsibilities – Identify the benefit owner and the other roles for people during change. Key tip – clearly defining people’s roles at the outset will save time and reduce risk later on.
- We’d normally produce a ‘who’s who’ of change for a Programme, if the client hasn’t got one already.
- The process of photographing and interviewing each member of the team can take a bit of time, but it will pay off.
- Collect each person’s take on their role, the difference they think they’re making to the Programme and their personal aspirations for change.
- For team members, it is a nice way for each person to get respect for their role/contribution – the spotlight shines on the quiet achievers as well as the natural leaders.
Through this work you will build rapport with the people whose help you’ll be needing throughout the programme.
Identify your enablers and your blockers to seeing through change.
The Champions/Loose Cannons/Bystanders is matrix useful for this (click here – K Thompson et al 1999). Invest resource in the Champions, even though it’s counter intuitive. It makes sense if time is limited because when you find true ‘Champions’, it can be more powerful to equip them and get them talking, than to spend time chipping away at the ‘bystanders’ directly.
How will you actively report on progress towards benefits realisation?
- A dashboard style update is the most no nonsense approach, hosted online so people know it’s up to date.
- Make it a regular corner of a weekly/monthly update.Then always back that up with a team session where project leaders can tell the stories behind the results.
Example: we produced a monthly chat show-style webcast for the first 12 months of a programme involving a new operating model. The leadership talked through results across the new Industry Sectors. The results had been posted online ahead of the show and they weren’t always good news. The webcast format allowed people to email in questions and comments which the leadership could respond to live.
Who will the change affect? Change management practices are vital in understanding how employees will be affected. Employee adoption is often a direct measure of the benefit of change. This should be among the Change Team’s first three questions. Once you understand how change will manifest for each job role, you’re on the road to knowing exactly who to talk to and how.
‘Change Journeys’ can be tailored to a Project and audience on a programme with any ‘journey’ graphic automatically populated by info from a database. This is one of the reasons why creative treatment is so important; it brings change to life and demonstrates the benefits, and progress towards them, during the programme. Crucially, tailored comms addressing different stakeholder needs in this way will address the important ‘what’s in it for me’ question.
You will spot that effective change management focuses on identifying the benefits and the impact of change at the outset, and then on tracking, monitoring and keeping the business drivers and goals top priority throughout a programme, to make sure the business gets the most from change.
Five key tips for minimising the impact of upheaval on the business and the people remaining.
Consultant Jon Reeve looks at how to avoid silos when delivering system and process change to people.
Afiniti regularly blogs on the topic of change management with practical tips for benefits realisation and delivering change with a people focus. Subscribe here:
Preparing for change. Free online change readiness assessment
Engaging and Communicating with your audience – Communications reference guide