While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage in some parts of the world, other areas are seeing the most disastrous impacts of the crisis recede. Business leaders in some places are cautiously able to raise their heads and look to the future with a level of optimism. So how should a business plan the journey ahead? The most important aspect to any business change is that it is developed with the end in mind.
A method I use that performs well across all sectors is the Business Change Storyboard. I have used it many times with clients such as city councils, facilities management companies, utilities, retailers, banks, and insurance companies. The storyboard captures the information needed to chart a way ahead. It describes each change component and explains how they relate to each other:
This approach enables organisations to make informed decisions prior to and during the change journey. The desired outcome will require multiple initiatives. These are stated on the one storyboard and the relationship between them captured along with the relative impact of each quantified. Undertaking this level of analysis helps explain the relationship between a desired outcome and the initiatives needed to deliver it. The relative impact of each initiative is easily measured, providing answers to the following questions:
- What problems are we solving?
- How do we plan to solve them?
- What is the likely outcome if a problem isn’t solved?
- When in the change journey can we realise benefits?
- Is it possible to use these benefits to fund further initiatives?
When using this approach, all aspects of the business should be considered, such as organisation, governance, processes, and technology, as solving most business problems involves a mix of these components.
The 6 change components
It is important that a logical approach is used when completing the storyboard; ie, the change initiatives are directly linked to solving identified issues and the quantitative benefits are the result of resolving the associated impact. The following aspects contribute to delivering the desired future state.
Setting the vision: What should your business, function, or process look and feel like in the future? Briefly describe the desired state in 18–24 months. Think about what you would like to be able to do differently, eg, new markets, simplified delivery model with fewer handoffs, or be faster to market with a more flexible and agile product launch capability. The key is to imagine you are sitting at your desk at some point in the future and to describe how you would like it to be, without constraints.
Not there today: Define why your business, function, or process is not operating in line with the future vision today. List each specific reason why the desired state does not exist today, along with the impact on current operations or results. This could be a long list, so try to be specific and look for cause and effect in each of the statements.
What needs to change? What needs to be changed to deliver this future state? Identify specific change initiatives that would help mitigate one or more of the reasons stated above, eg, change governance and control, move or consolidate process activities, resolve data quality issues, or automate parts of the process.
There may be ongoing or planned initiatives, outside the scope of your work, which may impact the outcome you plan to deliver. These should be identified and managed as dependencies or risks within your change programme.
How will change be enabled? Specify the key enablers of the initiatives described above. Examples could be to reorganise parts of the process/functions, introduce or update a system, move locations, or outsource tasks. It is useful at this stage to identify which initiatives and outcomes will be affected if a change enabler is not implemented. An example could be forgoing the benefit of maintaining sales and margin if the capability to approve price changes and manage discounts is not implemented.
Quantify the outcomes: What benefits will be realised? These outcomes should relate directly to the initiatives, such as increased sales, cash flow improvement, or lower capital holding requirements.
Measure progress: It is important that progress is assessed by quantitative outcomes. These should be clearly defined and provide a framework to measure progress and success against. Continued measurement during the change journey is essential, as it provides a focus on delivering the outcomes and the information needed to take corrective action if required.
Socialising the plan and getting buy-in
The information captured in the template should provide the building blocks of a multi-phased delivery plan as well as the basis of an “elevator pitch”. It should provide simple answers to questions such as “Why are we doing this?”, “What's changing and when?”, “What benefits will be realised?”, and “When will my team or division need to engage in the change or see benefit from it?”
This is a facilitated methodology for problem-solving. It helps an organisation deliver its future vision through implementing a set of defined initiatives and outcomes. It can be employed at any level in an organisation. When directed at the corporate level, change initiatives can be cascaded to divisions, from divisions to functions, from functions to processes, and from processes to roles and responsibilities.
The Business Change Storyboard provides a simple but effective approach to capture and assemble the information organisations need to make informed decisions prior to and during the business change journey.
— Mark Gault, ACMA, CGMA, is a UK-based business architect at Gault & Co. Ltd. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Oliver Rowe, an FM magazine senior editor, at Oliver.Rowe@aicpa-cima.com.