Insider story – how to tackle a HR transformation project

Wondering how you’re going to tackle that next big transformation project as well as keeping your sanity intact? Wonder no more, in this blog we talked to Peter Cablis from HR consulting firm Evolving HR about managing a large, complex HR transformation project for Jaguar Land Rover. Peter talks about what was involved in the project and shares his key lessons learnt.

Embarking on a mission critical HR transformation project? Keep your cool with these key insights from Peter Cablis, from Jaguar Land Rover.

“The modern world is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous and organisations have had to become like rapid-reaction forces, needing to respond quickly, flex and adapt to suit an ever-changing world. HR professionals have needed to adapt too and have been required to manage multiple change programmes over their careers.

No doubt many of you have learned valuable lessons during the change programmes, but how many of you wished you had gone into the experience armed with the wisdom you were set to gain after the project?

While we can’t send you into the future, we can at least give you some insight into the wisdom we gained from a recent large scale, complex transformation programme involving:

  • Multiple business areas and sites
  • The introduction of new technology & major office refurbishment
  • Ordering and trialling of new equipment
  • The transition of new people into a department and their training
  • A major cultural shift for how HR transacts with the business and how business needs to operate
  • Limited budget and finite time for implementation
  • A culture of low accountability and silo’s

Despite these challenges, the project delivered, on time, to budget and was exactly what the customer wanted. So what were the secrets to this successful programme and what can be learned for future HR change programmes? We share a few of the key insights below (this is not an exhaustive list but serves as a guide):

1. Clearly scope out the project. Have clear timelines, measurements and milestones for each activity and phase of the project.

2. Know the skills and experience you need on the project and select the right people. Ensure they are fully dedicated and clear about their role in delivering the project.

3. Be clear who the key stakeholders are and engage with them right at the start.

4. Ensure everyone on the project is clear on their roles and what they are accountable for.

5. Set up a clear project governance board, with the right operational people from the project and the right key stakeholders. Review weekly/daily each part of the project as it proceeds. Make sure there is a ‘Risk, Actions, Issues and Dependencies’ log. Just as importantly, ensure all members of the project team are kept informed of changes and impacts to the overall project and their areas. Consult regularly with them and don’t be reluctant to refine the project plan if required.

6. Chunk the project down into its component parts, so that it becomes manageable and if required have distinct work streams.

7. Always ‘check in’ with the end users/people most likely to be affected by the change, to see if you have missed anything in the project.

8. Have a clear communication and feedback work stream. Consider how the change may affect the end users and adapt both your style of communication and the method of communication accordingly. Use multiple mediums to reach out to these people, including workshops, feedback groups, presentations, regular bulletins and blogs and intranet. Keep the flow of communication going throughout the project.

Thank you to Peter for sharing his knowledge and if you would like to know how to keep your cool and perhaps your sanity during a big-ticket, high-pressure, HR transformation project please contact Peter at EvolvingHR on

To discuss further, you can email me on

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