Ten tips for transformation go-live success

Business transformation success

In this installment of In:site we speak to Simon Brown.

Simon is a veteran of six end-to-end Transformation and Shared Services Programmes (since 1996). Simon often gets asked: what works best, what advice would you give?

There is no single “cut and paste” solution since each company has its own culture, its own spend budget and change readiness agility. There are certainly some common factors if applied with the correct level of dedication and follow-through, which can make a great difference to the speed of implementation and effectiveness of your transformation.

However, Go-Live is that high profile moment when you turn all the thinking, planning, blood, sweat and tears of knowledge transfer, including the processes which you lift and shift or lift and transform, into a new operational model. A model which the customers can see, feel, touch and truly experience. It’s similar to opening a store or restaurant and suddenly your customers are ready to consume your products and services and give you feedback on what they did or didn’t like.

So here are my 10 top tips for Transformation Go-Live Success:

1. Begin with the end in mind

Establish a visual blueprint of your future organisation, your Target Operating Model. Be clear on the deliverables and desired outcomes. As well as the measures of success in terms of operational effectiveness, customer satisfaction and cost efficiency. Define and agree these upfront with your key stakeholders. Plan ahead and get answers to these points before you get sucked into the doing mode.

2. Create a compelling vision to move forward

By working together on the design team and actually articulating the vision by physically drawing a tableau to describe your future state, you are creating something which you can show and share with others to get them involved and engaged. A picture is worth a thousand words: it draws people in, starts a conversation, creates meaning and a dialogue for change. Hopefully, it also provokes a response and creates an emotional reaction. So to gain momentum to move forward we need to create a compelling vision, a good story, something to believe in, to follow and to become part of.

3. Engage your key stakeholders early and enlist business “change champions”
Before you start to implement your new ways of working, be sure to get real supporters from the business on your side. Change champions are leaders and role models. They are well respected by other managers and thus engender + enable peer and cascade credibility to the transformation story. Identify and enlist “change champions” who can talk positively about the benefits of self-service, portal and system technology. This will allow HR business partners to actually spend more time supporting the business agenda and less time as a pair of hands on administration.

4. Align Systems with Processes
Generally, alignment is the key word. Alignment of activities, sub-projects and work-streams are key to the successful implementation + end user digestion of the transformation and changes to the ways of working. Having a clearly coordinated and well-structured Project Management Office with a well-bundled communications plan can really help to present the transformation as one initiative, not a thousand unrelated busy tasks. Just like the air traffic controller the role is to ensure that planes take off and lands safely at the right time in the right place.

Align Process + System
System design and implementation and process design and implementation need to happen in parallel, to be aligned. You can’t implement a system without a clear and consistent set of global processes, and global processes will only work if the system enables the necessary transactions.
Roles and workflows must be defined and aligned. One without the other = an unholy and costly mess and lots of re-work.

Align Portal with People
Think about what is relevant for the end user when designing your intranet portal. Ensure navigation and access to information is simple and easy. Use a search engine with keyword enquiry. The most frequently asked questions that employees normally ask are the ones to ensure you have written good content answers for on the portal. Keep these answers up to date, relevant and fresh and you will save everyone time.

5. Hire an HR Shared Services Team Director and Team Leader EARLY

Sadly, all too often companies make the mistake of leaving it until their new HR Service Centre is up and running before hiring the HR Service Director, and team leaders. It is a mistaken belief that it is costly to hire these roles early. Particularly if they are an additional cost to a headcount not yet saved elsewhere in the organisation.

My counter proposal is to hire these pivotal roles early. Select those who are change agents, good at stakeholder engagement + employee relations, and particularly strong on the delivery of customer service satisfaction: the most important metric there is! Make them part of your pre Go-Live project team, conducting knowledge transfer, engaging early with key stakeholders and hiring the team. If they are involved in this it will build a stronger psychological contract and a vested interest to build the best team, the best processes, lay the best foundations for the new house right from the start. That’s actually cost effective!

6. Be clear on HR roles for the new HR Model

The HR Community will have one question on their mind as you announce your HR Transformation program: What’s in it for me? Behind that question lies their hierarchy of needs: What happens to me, when, what are the opportunities/options for me, and what if there are no opportunities for me? Don’t pretend that these questions can remain unanswered. Don’t leave the elephant in the room unannounced. Don’t lose trust. Acknowledge that their questions are relevant and real. Be honest.

You may not have all the answers yet but do your best to outline the road-map and the 3 routes to be taken:
a – you can be selected for a role in the new model,
b – you can grow your CV in change and project management,
c – there is no clear role yet defined that we can see for you.

However, if you stay and help with knowledge transfer, a fair and respectful package and support will be there for you if ultimately no suitable roles match for you.

7. Change Management is Key

Don’t underestimate change management or the time it takes. Give quality time to this. Behaviours don’t change on paper or after a single slide deck presentation. You are promoting a new concept and at first, it seems just a concept, a rather uncomfortable concept. Until people see how it works for them. There is a change for line managers to become more empowered and empowering as People Managers.

Have the courage to spend time with HR to help them through their personal transition. They need to accept that the change must come from them.

8. Rule of 8: communicate, communicate, communicate

In turbulent change, you can never over communicate.

When the game is changing, the old rules and framework will not be the same anymore, this is where you have to help the team to take it all in and to adjust to the changing environment. People often don’t hear, and sometimes don’t want to hear, the first message of change. They just don’t take it in. So say it again and again and again but with the same core message. Repeat it 8 times or more, nearly everyone will hear it, internalises it and recognises it as their new terms of reference.

9. Think of knowledge transfer as a joint project team

Create a project management team mindset with a clear charter and purpose. It’s about collaboration, it’s not about wanting to let employees in that country down. This approach sets up conditions for success.
Spend time and money doing as much face-to-face/voice-to-voice knowledge transfer and training as you can. It’s about giving and receiving the gift of knowledge and it can actually be a reward for an employee to get the opportunity go to another country to do this.

Steer clear of any connotations of “taking over”, “raiding their brains”, “us and them”. They set an unhealthy atmosphere for the project and must be confronted early if they arise.

10. Go-Live is just the start!

Check that the new roles, systems and processes are working, especially beneath the surface. Ensure that people are trained for their new roles and that they have actually made the behavioural transition from old state model to new state new model and new actions.

Actions are everything. Read verbal and non-verbal signs. Praise adoption and good examples of the new ways of working. Encourage customer feedback on the service and be quick to improve the service where needed. Nip the bad habits in the bud and the signs of old ways of working via firm, constructive feedback with SMART examples.

Take time to positively celebrate Go-Live day with a drink and a cake as a milestone achieved. It marks the end of the beginning; the start of a new life-cycle of continuous operational excellence.

Simon Brown Associates


To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

HR from a global perspective

How many times have you been on the receiving end of a fabulous new ‘global initiative’ created by your US colleagues? It’s rolled out with lots of enthusiastic fanfare only for it to be received badly over here in Europe, as they haven’t taken into consideration cultural implications, the legal framework, consultation with works councils, translation into local languages or all of the above?

Global HR

Frustrating, isn’t it?

I’m certain all senior HR professionals that work in multinational companies parented in the US will be familiar with the stereotype of US leaders imposing global programmes and change initiatives with a one size fits all approach, on the rest of the world. (Incidentally, Donald Trump isn’t doing much to dispel this myth about US culture at the moment!). This can obviously cause a lot of frustration for non-US HR leaders and can result in failed initiatives and disengaged employees that feel their employer doesn’t understand their needs.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of the latest great idea, it is easy to feel that your stateside colleagues are wrong to roll out programmes without understanding the local markets and that they just don’t understand the complexity of employment law outside of the US (or indeed they just enjoy making your job more difficult!).

However, as HR leaders operating in increasingly global markets, it is incumbent upon us to work together with our colleagues not only in the US but across the globe. It’s only by working in this way that we can overcome cultural, technical, legal and process challenges in different jurisdictions to deliver lasting change. I would suggest we need to take a closer look at our role in that rather than directing a few choice words across the pond.

In my experience, US leaders in US parented companies often just can’t comprehend the complexity in other jurisdictions. They are simply are not familiar with the industrial relations framework and employment law landscape outside of their own country. When they learn about it, they are often disbelieving of how complex some jurisdictions can be in relation to the US.

It is absolutely true that some jurisdictions are substantially more complex from an industrial relations and employment law perspective than others. There is a spectrum of employee-centric to employer-centric employment law frameworks in different parts of the world – the US is at one end of that spectrum with it being very employer friendly, with little employment law restrictions (except in the state of California – known as the ‘France of the US’) and therefore it allows US organisations to drive change quickly and at a reasonable financial cost.

The real France, for example, is at the other end of the spectrum where the labour code, derived from a long standing socialist culture is firmly in favour of protecting employees’ rights – any kind of organisational change that will impact employees can take months of negotiation with the works councils and comparatively be much more expensive to implement than it would have been in the US. The UK lies somewhere in the middle on this spectrum with a healthy employment law framework to protect the rights of employees but with enough flexibility to enable organisations to move forward with their plans without debilitating legal hurdles or cost.

So how can we avoid these pitfalls to become more effective at rolling out global initiatives, locally?

If you have a senior team of collaborative HR and business leaders, global organisations are able to celebrate and take the best from each culture. There are some very easy ways to do this; making sure that all geographies and cultures are represented on change teams is an obvious first step; taking the right amount of time to test with a global audience new initiatives before a roll out helps to refine the end product and ensure it can meet the needs of the whole workforce. Frequent, open and honest dialogue in an environment that listens to others perspectives is the key to ensuring all voices are heard and all corners of the globe are represented.

It’s not helpful to US colleagues to continuously hear that they can’t do something because of the ‘law’ in a specific jurisdiction as often that’s simply not true. Due to this non-US HR leaders need to be solutions focussed and explain how something can be achieved within the boundaries of the legal frameworks in different jurisdictions. Never say never – just tell them how it can be done even if it will take time and cost more!

Finally, my advice to any senior HR professional working in a multi-national company is to embrace – as a core part of their role – the need to educate, educate, educate US colleagues to ensure that enough time is planned in advance to manage the legal requirements to consult and the needs of local markets when making any kind of organisational change. Have a ‘summary of employment law outside of the US’ presentation in your back pocket ready to be adapted and shared with your US colleagues when the occasion presents itself.

Working in a global environment can be challenging but it is so rewarding when an organisation takes the right steps to ensure that its people initiatives do meet the needs of a global workforce and HR leaders play a vital and exciting role in making that happen.

This is a guest article, written by Coleen Highfield, who is Vice President of HR (Europe and Africa) at MoneyGram International. You can get in touch with her via LinkedIn by following this link…

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

How do you tailor your CV to a job?

Tailoring your CV

Job hunting can sometimes feel like an odious long-winded task. Everything is questioned, from how you dress at an interview, to why there is a gap on your CV, to why you may have decided to go to university to study Zoology, but are now looking to focus on a career in marketing. Before the stage of being questioned is reached, however, it is always good practice to alter your CV to suit the job role that you’re applying for, as it outlines your passion for the role. But how do you do this efficiently?

1. Is it unique?
To ensure your CV and cover letter is unique for each role you apply for, it is a good idea to have a master copy that you then use as a starting point for each role. If you are applying for two different industries, then have one master copy for each. Alter the order of your sections to suit the role, it allows the recruiter to scan the CV to see that you do have all they are looking for quickly. If you are applying for a role that requires a university degree, then give this section priority and put it towards the top.

2. What words are you using?
Think about the words, especially the adjectives, which are used within the job specification and mirror them in your skills section in your CV. Put it in a different order to ensure it is not too obvious. Try to use some technical jargon that is relevant to the sector you are working for, for example, if you are applying for an HR role, ‘blue-sky thinking’ may be beneficial to use. Using these words envisages experience, as well as understanding of the sector. Also, try to not overload the CV with jargon or “fancy” words, it can cancel out your understanding and can look a little desperate.

3. Have you carried out a search?
Have a look online for job adverts that are similar to the role you applying to, so you can ensure you have an in-depth understanding of what is required in the position you are applying for.

4. Done any research?
Do a little research into the organisation you are applying for. Find out about their reputation and how they present their culture. This would be beneficial when looking at the ‘interests’ section of your CV. If the company has a ‘work hard and play hard’ culture then there would be no qualms in talking about your social interests. Whereas, if the organisation is one that concentrates on remaining professional at all times, you would then only include a select few of your interests that would suit.

5. Be Positive
Try to not be negative in your CV, it can show that you are lacking self-belief or confidence. We all have something we are working on or want to improve, turn that into a positive on your CV. For example, a job seeker may have basic spoken communication skills when applying for a HR Officer role. It can be stated that the job seeker has a basic set of spoken communication skills but with the passion to learn more.

If you think this role is perfect for you, this will show in your CV and cover letter, so ensure you apply for roles that work for you. As well as making sure your CV is concise, intriguing and interesting, the pointers above should help you to get you that dream job or least get you into the right direction. Make sure no exceptions are made, you never know when luck will strike. Good luck jobseekers!

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.