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How to support businesses going through change

How to support businesses going through change
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Ben Hawkins

Ben Hawkins

Executive Director

In an increasingly technical and global marketplace, change is the norm, and there is a demand for businesses to become more agile to keep up with the pace. As a result, business transformation is getting smarter.

Research conducted by BIE found that for 94% of nearly 150 business leaders, being more agile was a priority. Business leaders across the board are increasingly looking at new ways of working, and they need to be able to flex and adapt to successfully respond to ever changing customer needs. Consequently, the organisations that traditionally help them to surmount these are having to adapt as well.

Why a traditional model doesn’t always work

Traditionally, the recruitment and consulting industries have adhered to autonomous business models with little to no overlap between them. When it comes to equipping an organisation for business transformation, this leaves a burning hole around delivery and implementation. Without this, how can businesses be successful at meeting changing and variable demands?

The need to involve external organisations in business transformation often lies in a lack of internal capability to deal with change. A BIE survey found that only 42% of business leaders believe they have the internal capability to deliver business transformation. However, in reality this capability itself is often grossly underestimated.

BIE Graphic

Therefore, businesses have sought the help of consultancies to achieve transformation, to help them plan and kick start the programme. Recruitment (interim and search) companies have then been engaged to find the best people to implement the changes.

This begs the questions: who is managing the overall transformation programme? Who is responsible for monitoring progress and reacting to the changing needs that are increasingly inevitable along the transformation journey?

While a clear vision and well-thought out strategy may have been developed, the execution of the programme is without doubt the most challenging part. Often overlooked is the importance of a client side adviser understanding and planning appropriately for the ‘people side’ of the transformation.

The need to focus on delivery and legacy

To be able to flex and adapt to successfully meet challenges, businesses need a bespoke and flexible solution for their transformation. They need to be able to draw on relevant expertise, and different capabilities at different stages of the transformation process. This is the concept on which the client side adviser model is built.

The model combines consulting and recruitment. It’s a ‘hands-on’ model, where an independent Programme Director (a senior interim executive with years of hands-on experience in delivering large-scale transformation programmes) acts as a client side adviser and implementer throughout the entire lifecycle of the project.

The aim is to support businesses in delivering a transformation programme; giving them more control and input over the final outcome, and the confidence and assurance that the right structure, process and governance is in place to keep the programme aligned to the plan.

The new model works with organisations going through change by understanding their business requirements, resourcing a programme team with the relevant skills, applying the necessary levels of governance and managing all third parties to deliver correctly.

Independent consultants are selected from a talent pool of cross-functional experienced interim executives. They are ex-top tier consultancy professionals with a strong background in their discipline. Specialist consultants are drawn on for upfront strategy work and reviews; delivery focused consultants are selected for the process, design and wider IT implementation work; whilst ex-senior executives are selected for the advisory and programme leadership, as well as governance aspects.

How the client side adviser model works

The Programme Director, alongside the programme sponsor and other key stakeholders, develops a transformation roadmap, outlining all the interdependent sub-projects that make up the transformation programme. These sub-projects will likely span across many functional workstreams within the business, led by internal business owners and external transformation leads for each affected business function (e.g. HR, Finance, IT, etc.)

When it comes to execution, the Programme Director takes overall responsibility for ensuring the transformation is delivered smoothly, on-time and within budget, while each sub-project is managed by a blended project team of external and internal talent who can clearly articulate, implement, and embed the change.

Business transformation is a skill-set that many organisations do not have in the volume they require, when they require it, and the need for businesses to be more agile in response to constant change has never been greater. As a result, the client side adviser approach offers a more flexible solution to create a legacy of continuous growth and improvement.

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