Toby Mankertz, Principal Advisor in Digital Transformation at Columbus, joins Mark Woodbridge, Customer Success Manager at Microsoft, to discuss the impact of an executive sponsor in change management.
What are the impacts of not having a value statement?
It’s common for organisations to jump to the conclusion that they need new technology such as a new finance system, and it’s very much seen as an IT project to deliver it.
However, this approach results in a lack of engagement without a value statement behind it. Without consulting your employees about why the change is happening and addressing the ‘what’s in it for me’ question a new system will likely raise, you can’t communicate how it’ll resolve their challenges on a personal level and add value.
Additionally, with change, you’re often taking away existing business processes to replace them with new ones. Without any initial alignment with your internal stakeholders about how the introduction of a new system will influence the way they’re currently operating, and the potential value they’ll gain out of it, you’re limiting your chances of the implementation succeeding.
To create alignment, Toby suggests that you should take the project out of the IT department and instead see it as an organisation-wide change. With an effective value statement that addresses all parties involved, you’re able to develop a fresh, positive mindset towards the project.
How can you take the project out of IT whilst retaining the critical functions they bring towards a change project?
It’s not straightforward to do, which is why Columbus engage with all affected stakeholders by leading with business value, instead of addressing the features and functionalities behind a new system.
This allows your people to become outcome focused, aligning behind how the business is going to look and feel different as a result of the change and further understand why it needs to happen.
Columbus carries out various activities to generate stakeholder buy in, including envisioning and Microsoft Catalyst workshops. You can learn more about these here.
How does an executive sponsor influence the success of a project?
An executive sponsor within an organisation is seen as a change ambassador, acting as a point of escalation and offering support towards all stakeholder groups regarding any change. Here, they will be an advocate for:
- Why the change needs to happen, as this process can be disruptive
- What’s going to be different after the project has been completed
Often, executive sponsors will be supported by change agents, who are established and well-respected team members within the organisation. Instead of relying on external contractors or consultants to deliver change, promoting the project through your internal stakeholders is far more impactful and effective, due to the relationships they’ve already developed within your organisation.
Why can change be difficult to deliver?
Change is difficult to carry out as organisations reach an ‘equilibrium’ way of working. If we picture this process a ball moving uphill, a business transformation requires the executive sponsor to explain that it must happen and get people on board.
If there’s only one person or department involved with the change and if they stop believing in it, the progress (or the ball in this case) will return to its original state.
So, by building a coalition of support, this provides an opportunity for the ball (the change) to reach a new level, and the organisation can then re-envision where they want to go next.
How we helped Watson Marlow manage its change management project
Watson Marlow are a global pump manufacturer, who are moving away from selling products such as pumps individually to becoming a solutions provider.
The company reached out to Columbus to implement a Dynamics CRM system to make its global teams more unified, and just one of the key results obtained by working with us is 100% user adoption for its solution.
We did this by focusing on and defining two factors in our Value First approach:
- Processes – how people are going to be using the system to help them do their jobs better, leading to increased efficiency for Watson-Marlow
- People – understanding how they are going to react to the change and taking the time to acknowledge their pains on an individual basis
Although our workshops have been an investment, it’s meant that Watson Marlow were able to identify its executive sponsor and, as a result, drive more efficiency towards the project.