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Here’s the Key to a
Successful Digital Journey

Originally aired on 11/9/2022

67 Minute Watch Time

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Transcript

Andrew Harris:

Well hello everybody, and thank you for being with us today, thank you very much for investing an hour of your day to be with us today, we hope that this is going to be a great session for everyone online today. By way of introduction, my name is Andrew Harris, I have the privilege of being the Vice President of Sales for InEight for Asia Pacific and Japan, and get the ability to work with many amazing customers and partners around the region. And today we’re joined by a panel of highly experienced industry specialists in the field of project management, organizational change management, and human-centric change management, and we’re here today to really discuss how that underpins successful organizational transformation. So hopefully a jam-packed hour for everybody over the course of this session.

A couple of reminders before we get started, let us know that you’re here by using the chat to say hello to the team online, and any of the other attendees might be peers, might be competitors, or just industry specialists. You can also use this feature to chat with other participants, speakers, or leave any comments that you might like, as well as post any questions throughout the session, and we’ll be sure to address them either during the session itself, if it comes up as a link topic, or at the end of the webinar.

So the focus for today’s session is really centered around InEight’s second annual Global Projects Capital Outlook report. The report draws really from industry insights and research that we have gathered through a research program that included over 300 of the world’s largest capital project owners and construction industry professionals across the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific. It’s really filled with a lot of great insights about the health of our industry and its confidence in the power of digital transformation and what it can help us achieve as a general group. You can actually find the link for that in the chat thread, Rose will be posting that, as well as a bunch of other really great articles and links that you might find useful, so keep an eye on the chat thread for some additional posts.

So to kick us off, some key findings from our research, and really just a few statistics for everybody. 96% of the respondents were actually optimistic about their business’ growth prospects for the upcoming year, looking at a rolling 12 month look ahead, and most owners and contractors that we surveyed stated that technology, maturity, and investment is really highly valued, yet their change management practices left, in some cases, quite a bit of room for improvement. We saw that digital technologies, about 57% of respondents really looked at that, enabling accurate data collection, analytics and insights offer a lot of really great opportunities for growth.

However, almost 93% of respondents then also said that their experience of change management left room for improvement, signaling a need for a more sophisticated human-centric approach to not only technology transformation, but general organizational transformation. And whilst a lot of our focus today is around that technology aspect, what we’ll cover is really a framework with which people can adopt organizational change.

So of particular concern to our respondents, and this is some nice threads, were things around uneven or sporadic implementation practices. Every project was approached differently, results may have varied, so really being able to drive consistency was a key. Identifying process and data integration issues when you’re spanning business processes and organizational departments, poor or inconsistent communication, a big topic I think for today, and any technical and system limitations that may have been uncovered along the way. And these really form the top frustration of our customers, and really what are those challenges that that’s inhibiting the adoption and growth?

So today’s panel, we’ll discuss some of these findings, and as we ask our panelists that question, why a human-centric approach is critical to successful digital transformation? I’m reading a book at the moment, James Kerr’s book called Legacy, which is actually about the success and the rebuild of the All Blacks rugby union team, and he quotes Will Hogg from Kinetic Management Consultancy, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Though every organization thinks they have unique problems, many change issues are centered around one thing, the ability or inability to convert a vision into action.” So with that in mind, let me get the panelists introduced to you, we’re actually going to get them to introduce themselves, and we’ll start with Anna. Welcome today, Anna.

 

Anna Ayoub:

Hi Andrew, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here today, and hi everyone. My name is Anna Ayoub, and I head up the organizational change management function at Fusion5, and that underpins process mapping, of course change management, and training. I’ve been in this sphere of change for about 15 years and am so excited to be able to share my learnings over the past 15 years with you today.

 

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic, thanks Anna. And Martin, over to yourself.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Thank you, thank you Andrew, and hello everyone. Yeah, thanks for this opportunity to speak on some of the learnings from digital transformation and bringing end users on the journey of change and system implementation. My name is Martin Coetzee, I’m the Global Head of IT for DRA Global. My career started many years ago back in Johannesburg, South Africa, and since then I’ve worked with various mining and minerals organizations across the globe, and I’ve been based here at DRA Global in Perth for the last four years. I’m a registered professional CIO, and have a couple of computer science and informatics degrees, and I’m really looking forward to this discussion. This is such a topical thing and an absolute key differentiator in ensuring successes in your project, so looking forward to sharing some thoughts and some experiences with the panel. Thank you.

 

Andrew Harris:

Thanks Martin, great to have you on board today. And lastly, Baris, please, over to you.

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Yes, thank you, thank you Andrew, it’s great to be here with the panelists, and hi everyone that’s watching. My name is Baris Ozdemir, I am the Director of Client Solutions at InEight APAC, and my journey to here is something that really has driven my passion in change management. Academically I’m a building engineer, I soon found myself on a construction site and I was one of those end users that really was finding it challenging using technology, and I knew that there was a better way to do things. As a result I gained experience in construction, and then I went and joined InEight, which is one of the best things that I’ve done in my life, and now I work with organizations globally in helping them make their vision a reality in the implementation of the InEight platform.

 

Andrew Harris:

Well welcome, welcome everybody, great to have everyone on board today. Let’s get really stuck into the meat of why we’re here today, which is to really talk through some of these themes. So since we actually commissioned the report, I think the world has changed again, with interest rates increasing globally, supply change shortages and disruptions, energy transition challenges, and a fair bit of global economic unrest, we still find opportunity and uncertainty in creating optimism for our customers. So Baris, from your experience in working across multiple sectors, both owners and contractors, what do you see as the factors that are influencing the market and really driving that need for organizations to change and invest in technology?

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Yeah, definitely. There is a saying that when there is uncertainty, there is opportunity, and what we are seeing right now with our clients is they’re taking the opportunity to really look at their business, and every aspect of their business, from their people to their processes to their technologies, and assessing how best to use them. That’s generally the engagements that we have with our clients, is very much around how can technology help our workforce become more productive and efficient and effective in what they do? What’s also really great to see is that our clients are taking a very pragmatic approach to digital transformation and change management. We are seeing that they are really taking their people and putting them in the center of all of this, and trying to understand how best to transform their organization with their people in mind, which technology will support.

 

Andrew Harris:

I think that’s an important distinction there, that technology’s a supporting aspect of a broader organizational change. And whilst we’ve got a lot of experience in the actual capital project sector itself, maybe Anna, across other regions and other industries, what are you seeing as well?

 

Anna Ayoub:

I think across other industries we’re seeing very similar trends, and the piece that I like, Baris, that you speak about is technology being the support mechanism in transforming organizations. The piece that I have seen continuously over the years is that if an organization is taking a technology-led approach, there’s a very high chance of failure. If we’re taking a people-centric approach around this is the culture, this is where we’re going, this is the organizational vision, that’s where we’re going to see a lot higher success rates.

 

Andrew Harris:

And that’s really important, Anna, and I think as we go through this we’ll be linking things to the vision, and the why and the objectives. I guess Martin, I’d love to draw you into the conversation as well, around really preparing for change, what are those right ingredients? We’ve got some statistics from McKinsey & Company saying that across a range of industry, 70% of digital transformations are perceived to fail. So from your background, how do you see ourselves starting to prepare the organization for change?

 

Martin Coetsee:

Yeah Andrew, I don’t think that the value of good change management can be overstated. It’s absolutely critical, and it’s super important if you want to achieve success. I’ll go as far as this and say, I think if you have an excellent product that does everything that you could wish for, it ticks all the boxes, it’s got all the bells and whistles, and you don’t have proper end user support on that product, your implementation will fail. And conversely, if you have a subpar product that does not have all the bells and whistles, and it doesn’t do everything that the business wants or need, you could almost get away with it if you have a user group that really embraces it and absolutely loves what they do and is invested in it.

So for me, in my experience, that change management is just super, super important if you want to get something across the line. If you go look at some of the Gartner research, that tells you that if you have a collaborative change management process, if you really involve those people from day one and take them on the journey, you’re going to increase your success rate by 24%. That’s a quarter of your efforts that’ll improve if you take people on the journey. So again, as I said, super, super important.

I think in terms of some of the things we can highlight that helps people go on the journey is it really helps if you tell people how they are personally going to benefit from the project, so they have to understand what’s in it for me, and I’d even extend that as far as their own personal development. So when an end user learns a new system, that’s something new that goes on their CV, that’s a new learning for them, and you, as a PM, or the change agent, need to articulate that upfront and say, “You’re actually learning something new here, and this is a new skill set that you’re getting.” And that’s one of the things that you could do to let people see the real value of what’s in it for them.

I guess some of the other important factors are you really need to have sponsorship from the top. Super important. You got to have that leadership that embraces the change, and that really shows people, visibly show the users under them that this is important to the organization and the difference it’s going to make. If you have that sponsorship, people will embrace it so much better.

Having said that, I’ll just add one more note on to that. Inside of these change groups, or project management groups, what you’ll find is that there are key people, there are SMEs, they’re respected folks inside of that expert group that actually owns a lot of the respect and a lot of the go how and the say how of how things run in that department. And as a good change agent, and a good PM, you need to identify those folks, so that when you have that offstage talk at the water cooler, you can actually still have the same positive message that you were giving in the formal meeting still being put forward by those SMEs. And so I think there’s a sponsorship from the top, but there’s also those internal SMEs that you really need to consider.

I guess those are a few specific points people should consider in that journey there. Andrew?

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, there’s some really nice threads in there, Martin, and one of them that just stuck out to me, well there’s those two key ones really, one was around that what’s in it for me? So it’s actually being able to link the contribution to the individual’s personal development, and increasing, effectively, their market value, by continuing to enable them and learn new attributes and new ways to do their job. And that, I guess the real groundswell of transformation and change is almost in the conversations that are outside of the structured rooms, it is that groundswell of support in the corridors when the vendor or the management team’s not in the room, that’s where I think, as you just outlined, you can really make or break the transformation itself, and then the longevity of the transformation and realized value. I’m wondering, Anna, from your experience, and then maybe Baris, whether you’ve seen that, those visible attributes of that taking place?

 

Anna Ayoub:

Oh, absolutely, and I think it can really set the project apart, or it can really derail it if those SMEs or the change champions are not on board. And I’ve seen that numerous times, where we didn’t bring individuals on the journey and they had the opportunity to derail the project.

A few years ago I worked in an organization that was implementing a brand new ERP, so impacting the entire organization, and predominantly finance and operations. There was one person who was seen as a key individual, and that individual kept saying, “Yes, yes, it’s an amazing idea, yes, it’s going to make all the difference.” In the cooler rooms, unfortunately, the conversation was very different, and luckily we caught onto that and were able to make that difference. If we didn’t, there was a very high chance the project would be derailed, and at times what happens is it doesn’t go live, so all the money gets spent, everything gets built, doesn’t go live, goes live, nobody uses it. Fusion5, unfortunately, had one customer a few years ago where they spent over $1.5 million on a project and at the end they just said, “No, we just stopped paying for licenses and we’re not going to use it going forward.”

And I think onto what Martin was saying, to me there are five critical elements of change management. The first one is a compelling story for change. So what is it that we are trying to achieve? Why are we trying to achieve it? And what’s in it for me? Around the what, it cannot be a technical speak introduction of a system. End users do not care about your system in most cases, what they care about is, well what does that mean in my terms? What does it mean for me in my role? Will my role be redundant? There’s a huge fear that people’s roles will be impacted, and based on the current economy that Andrew was talking about, that’s probably number one.

For some people, they like a towards state, and other people prefer an away state. And what I mean by that is some people want to see a vision, this is really exciting, this is going to transform the way we work, it’s going to set us apart, we’ll be number one company. Other people don’t care about that, what they want to know is are there any away responses that I need to be worried about? Will it impact my job? Will it actually impact our customers? What are the negative things that might come across? So that’s the compelling story for change, the what, the why, and the benefit.

The second part is understanding the stakeholders and the impact on them. There are numerous examples I can give you, but one that’s probably the biggest shame in my career is where we had a project and we forgot to identify the union as being our key stakeholder, and actually not a key stakeholder, just an area that we needed to inform about the change. And unfortunately when the project went live, two days later we had a call from a union and we had to cancel it, put the project on hold, go to the rollback plan, start again, and until the union had the final sign off, for three months the project was on hold. What it meant was huge overspend, very disappointed staff, a lot of rework. So make sure you identify, who are your stakeholders? Even those who you think may not be impacted, still think about them and write them down, and then complete an impact assessment and see, what are the things that are going to impact each of your stakeholders. And even if they don’t, what do they need to know about?

And that leads me to my third point, is the change plan. How do we create change plan that brings people on the journey? To Andrew’s point. So what are the communications engagement activities that you need to take people on the journey with? And that will include your sponsors, it will include your change champions that Martin referred to, and it’s a really good way to make sure that you don’t leave it to the end. Because most of the time when I get phone calls it’s in testing phase, and that’s very late in the game. We can still help and make a project more successful with change management, but please start at the beginning, don’t leave it to the end.

Beyond that, a change plan consists of training and learning, so how are we going to train our people? What supporting materials are we going to give them, videos, on screen guidance, anything like that? And then post go live support. So how are you going to support your users once the system is live? And to Martin’s point, doesn’t matter what your system is capable of, as long as it’s meeting most, approximately, process needs and people can complete their work. But if we have really good post go live support, that’s key.

So just for those who want to write it down, the change plan consists of communications, engagement, training, and post go live support. And once we’ve got the change plan, it’s the execution and tweaking to that plan based on what you’re hearing, what you’re feeling, what is the things that are coming out from the project that potentially you might need to tweak the plan on? Once you have your plan and you’re executing it, it’s checking the readiness, are you ready to go live? And post go live, do you have the adoption check ins? So how do you know that people are adopting your technology?

So in summary, five critical aspects of what you need to consider in change management, your compelling story for change, stakeholder analysis, change plan, readiness, adoption.

 

Andrew Harris:

That’s great, Anna, thanks for stitching those threads together for us, I think that’s a fantastic trail on from some of Martin’s readiness and approach. I really like the away state and towards state, and I think we all know that change isn’t easy, but we also don’t have to make it as hard as we do, and having a lot of those things aligned I think really helps us stand the change test of time. The benefits realization after we’ve gone through the change, and what does that new normal look like? That’s actually what we’re all working towards, because the implementation is just really a step in adoption and utilization, because that’s where an organization will get the return on whatever change they’re undertaking.

And I think as you talked about all of those different aspects of an organization, and external influences as well, the word that springs to mind for me is around courage and perseverance. So how do you stay the course and drive that conviction as you go through that change process? And in our prep I think you had quite a neat story around that, which if you’re open to share I think that’s a really nice way to really frame up the energy and the courage to go forth with the change.

 

Anna Ayoub:

Thanks Andrew, and I think what I would add to that is authenticity, because if people don’t see you being your authentic self, and the leaders in the organization actually believing in the message, they’ll see right through that. I’m currently doing some study in neuroscience, and I will forget the exact statistic, but our body actually senses someone being dishonest, or not believing in their message, physically. So we physically get a reaction, I believe it’s in four seconds, but it could be way shorter than that. So if someone’s saying something, we don’t believe them, that’s going to really come across. So whatever your compelling story is, you better believe it, otherwise your people will never come on the journey.

And in terms of my story, and I think one of my ex-colleagues is on the call today, she will have a huge smile on her face now. But we worked at Commonwealth Bank together, I was there for 11 years, and the commencement of that empire, you can really say, in early 2000s. We were number four in the top four customer satisfaction, way behind all the other tiny little banks that were providing really good customer service, and our CEO at the time came out and said, “We are going to be number one in customer satisfaction.” The number of laughs in the cooler rooms that he would’ve heard were unbelievable, 52,000 staff, probably about half that staff did not believe that statement.

The transformation journey that we went on for a few years after that, and all our KPIs, all our messaging, so the entire change management process that I mentioned to you just a little while ago, was followed to a T. The authenticity, the courage, the vision, were all there, and we all bought into it the amount of passion that came along with most staff, that we ended up feeling like we have yellow blood. And I remember telling this story to this panel and they were all smiling, because to this day I still feel like I am part of CommBank, even though I left quite a few years ago, but that’s just the starting journey of where I really felt connected to an organization, and I was so passionate about it.

And even though I was in the back office, in HR, way behind anyone seeing me, but I was really devoted to giving that customer satisfaction to all of our internal staff, and then allowing them to be able to give our customers the number one customer service. And I know with all the challenges that the banking environment has had for probably 10 years now, you may not see it, but I truly believe that all the people I talk to who are my colleagues from CommBank, they’re still really passionate about delivering great customer satisfaction.

 

Andrew Harris:

That’s a wonderful story, yeah.

 

Anna Ayoub:

Thanks Andrew, and I guess the reason I’m telling you this story is to understand that it all was underpinned by technology, but as a staff member I did not care about technology, I only cared about what it is that we do as a world within us to achieve being number one, and we hit that target, and we remained number one for a few years to come.

 

Andrew Harris:

That’s great, that’s a really great story, and I think Martin, I’d love to get some perspective from your side of things in terms of DRA, and you guys are on a fantastic digital journey where I’ve seen a lot of conviction and sponsorship, et cetera, but also a real focus on celebrating the small wins along the way so you can really drive positive momentum in that transformation, so I’d just love to hear from you.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Yeah, sure Andrew. Before I jump into that, I want to go back to Anna and say, you called out an implementation that you’re not super proud of and that didn’t go so well. I’ll say this much, when I interview project managers and change agents, one of the first questions I’ll ask them, have you ever failed in a project? And it’s only if the answer is yes that the candidate will probably go through, because you learn so much through that process that’s just absolutely invaluable. So anybody that feels that they’ve failed in a project, take it as learnings, and you’re probably stronger for it. So yeah, I wanted to share that with you.

Look, in terms of DRA’s journey, Andrew, we’ve taken a pretty holistic approach, and we’ve looked at the different layers inside of our business, and then motivated for digital transformation against each of those layers. So really looking at the front office piece where we consider the customer and the digital offerings that goes out to our revenue base, then in our mid-office section we really looked at how do we digitally transform that core revenue contributors, so talking about the projects delivery business in DRA, and the operations and maintenance business, and you guys are pretty closely tied with some of the digital transformation initiatives in that area. And then lastly in the back office we said, what is the motivation for digitization in the back office? So why do we want to digitally transform finance, HR, marketing, and all these back office systems?

And so having taken a three layered approach, looking at the different motivations in each of those, we came up with a set of principles that said, what is our ideal transformation principles? So what is it that we want to try and achieve? We want to have one set of the truth, only one source of the truth, one data set that cuts across the entire organization, we don’t want bespoke applications. And so we put together a whole set of principles, and every time we do a product selection, or we embark on a project, we go and check those principles and make sure they’re aligned, and that just gives us that big picture guidance towards digital transformation and taking the organization on that.

Focusing on what’s the topic here today, which is just really human-centric side of things, for me the key success areas have been around that one-on-one connection, and I think, Anna, you’ve probably spoken about this enough, but I want to emphasize it again, when you deal with people on a on-to-one basis on these projects you have to make a connection with them, you’ve got to understand where they’re coming from and have empathy with them, understand their perspectives and challenges. And it’s only once you realize that you get them and their challenges that you can start to take them on the journey. If you’re coming with your message and trying to force it on them, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success. You’ve got to understand what is the disruption in their world, and how can you help them through this journey?

Some of the other key success factors that we considered in DRA is, in terms of the change agent, it is every change manager or consultant’s job just to coordinate all of these things, and what you want to have is people that have got really good experience, and all the things that Anna have called out, this is where you need someone that can coordinate and think about all these effort. You need someone with super high EQ, someone that really has a good structure that they can fall back on, and someone that’s not going to force a change that doesn’t work.

And so maybe that brings me to another point that I’ll raise, and again, maybe talking about failed implementations, there’s nothing wrong with having the courage to call out when stuff goes wrong, and a business case had made since six months ago may not make sense today. And as the sponsor, as the PM, as the change agent, you got to understand it all the time and be courageous and say, hang on, but this is no longer working for our business. Do those check backs all the time, and if you need to pull the plug, pull the plug. The earlier that you do that, the more you’re going to save your organization from funding. And sometimes it doesn’t need to be black or white, you don’t need to either go ahead or pull the plug, you can do something in the middle where you say, let’s just pause the project, let’s think about where we are today, pause it for now and then re-look at the business case going forward.

I think the last point I might raise that hopefully helps the people listening in is I think it’s really important that the business understands the disruption that they’re in for. And I think InEight is particularly good at that, and not all providers are, so I think it’s fairly in your cap there. But if managers don’t understand the disruption that they’re in for, they will look at the system as a silver bullet that’s going to solve something for them. They throw it over the fence and they wait for the problem to be solved. That is never, ever going to work.

The system is there to automate your processes, but you’ve got to have good processes, you’ve got to have a mature way of thinking about your processes, and only then, together with those stakeholders, you can implement them then you can automate them, the system will work for you. But if the business don’t understand the disruption that they’re in for, they will provide limited resources on the project, you’ll run into problems of people doing two jobs, they’re on the project one day and then doing their day job the next, and one of those two are going to be left behind, you’re going to have frustrated users, and so really, really important that you upfront spec and plan for the internal resource requirements for your project. And I think that’s something that we’ve done pretty well at DRA, and with the help of InEight as well.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, I agree, and thanks for calling that out. I know that’s something that’s near and dear to Baris’s heart, so I’d love to just tease that thread a little bit as well and get Baris involved from picking up that conversation. And there is a question that’s come through from Justin, who actually works at InEight, maybe we can just talk a little bit, whether now or later, around some of those leading indicators when a digital transformation’s not going to plan, and I think, Martin, you just called it out around having that courage to pause, but the question is what would be the approach to get it back on track? So if we could explore that a little bit and then circle back to that resource commitment, and understanding the disruption that’s going to happen in an organization without scaring people into paralysis, I think there’s a balancing act there somewhere, I’m not sure anyone’s found that yet.

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Yeah, 100%. I think Andrew, as you know, one of their key change management practices that we follow is with the Prosci ADKAR Assessment. So as we’re going through the implementation, what’s absolutely critical is that you’re taking pulse checks. Generally implementations are very centered around the technology, and when is it provisioned? And those things. But by doing assessments like the ADKAR Assessments you’re able to look at the human side of it. So as an example, you’re doing a pulse check on desire, so the D in ADKAR, and if you are seeing indicators that people do not have a desire to change, then that’s something to address. And then what does it mean when they don’t have a desire to change? It means that you really haven’t found the what’s in it for them, and you haven’t communicated that effectively to them.

Generally what we see when clients engage with InEight, and we assess their requirements and business objectives, is that sometimes you can see one side of that story. Generally businesses want to get insight into their business, understand what’s happening, I want to see my dashboard, those type of things. And then when we get into the implementation and we’re in the process assessment and we’re trying to understand the current state, that’s when you get the SMEs perspective, you get the end users perspective on what they like about the current states, what their capabilities are. And sometimes we see that there hasn’t been earlier work done in the organization, our clients really understanding their organizational capabilities, both from a people perspective, your people are capable of doing something. And generally people, if they are pushed too far outside of their comfort zone of capability, they will resist that change. So it’s important to understand what they are comfortable with, and have a strategic way of increasing their capability through the implementation.

A digital transformation is very much about many elements being transformed, and really, going back to what Martin was saying before, if the people don’t transform, the processes will not be followed and the technology will not be utilized. So it’s absolutely critical to know where you are right now. Sometimes we see our clients not document their current state very well, or communicate that to us effectively, and that, to us, is a bit of a reg flag because we have no way of measuring how good we’re going to do from that baseline. We want to assess, we increase the capability of these individuals by X amounts, we reduced their workload by Y amounts, we were able to meet the business objectives by designing these processes and technologies and increasing capability.

So it’s absolutely critical to know where you currently are, and as you’re designing the future state, be pragmatic about it. So if you are seeing that there’s a drop in desire, or ability, you may want to take a bit of a pause because the organization might be saying something to you and that is, we’re not ready for this amount of change this quickly. Let’s maybe scale this back a little bit and focus on those critical pain points that we have, let’s get that right, let’s build that momentum, and then we can bring this other change while we have that momentum.

 

Andrew Harris:

So having a flexible culture within the combined project team sounds really important, and going back to Martin, your point around courage, to just hit the pause button, and not necessarily to throw everything away, but to just take some emotion out of it and just look, and I guess this draws it back to what’s the vision, and checking your progress against the vision and the why.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Yep, absolutely. And I think, just to add on to what Baris is saying there, if you don’t actually take that time to think through where you are and what is your next steps, then you’re probably not going to succeed. You’ve got to take that moment to pause and go back to the original business case, and that’s a great mechanism, go back to your original business case, go and look at the drivers, go and look at what is the outcomes that you are actually trying to achieve there, and that will give you a nice reset where you can just say, hang on, let’s just step out from the detail and look at why are we doing this again? Let’s go back to the why, and then that’ll give you the way forward again.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic. And I think, as you started to talk about, Baris, around change, how much change people can take on, and in our prep calls we started to talk about the concepts of being change fit and change fatigued, and Martin, you talked about some people just get in and they love change, they love having a new thing every second day, and et cetera, et cetera, and then you’ve got others that can tire quite quickly, or through digital transformations, they are typically longer journey projects, they’re not a two weeks in, two weeks out, they’re multi-month, sometimes multi-year projects. So Anna, how do you think that organizations can start to ready themselves for the fit side and the fatigue side, and the people that you may lose, retain, or attract along that journey?

 

Anna Ayoub:

Thanks Andrew. So I think what I want to give you an example of is exercise. So imagine that you want to run a marathon, which any project is a marathon, you will not get there in an hour, and you train, train, train, but you only focus on training yourself to run, you don’t look at your diet, you don’t look at going to the gym and doing some weights and really building that muscle. Not that I do marathon, anyway, that just is an example. And over time you will start to get injured, you will start to not enjoy it as much, and potentially have an opportunity to give up. So that’s what projects to me, that focus on technology alone, look like.

The aspect around change fatigue is pretty much like training for a marathon without looking at all aspects of your life. And going back to a technology implementation, it’s really around how do we ensure that we can see that every single aspect, every single project that you have going on in the organization, and make a call to understand, well, is this too much for our organization? If we’re impacting our sales team, our operation team, or our delivery team, so maybe your builders on site are getting 10 different changes in the same month, is that actually sustainable? And to Andrew’s point around potentially making a call around people, and are you prepared to lose some people, or do you really need to keep them on board?

We had an organization quite recently who were acquiring numerous small businesses every few months, and they expected all of them to come in and operate exactly like the head office, except the head office was so uncoordinated and they didn’t have the as is processes, there were no standard operating procedures, that those individuals coming into the head office started to resign. So we want to ensure that whatever you do, you have the clarity, and you also understand the impact on your people. And if the impacts are too high it’s considering, well what’s most important for us this time? So if our organization’s vision is to achieve customer satisfaction, well what does that mean? All these 100 project, which ones are actually going to help us achieve the customer satisfaction? So really being clear around what your vision is really important.

And there are some tools available out there that can really help you map out your impacts from all the projects, so as a heat map you can see, well this is the area of my business, so all of my builders, or builders in this particular area are really being impacted and the rest are okay. So understanding which areas, who, and then making decisions based on data and not just gut feel, yes, we’re change or we’re change exhausted.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, that’s great. And I guess Baris and Martin, examples from yourselves around where you’ve seen that happen and those attributes.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Yeah, anyone that’s lived through assorted projects will certainly resonate with everything you’re saying there, Anna. I have a slightly different spin on something I want to share with you guys. So we talk about change fatigue and organizations just going through so much change, and people just cannot absorb it. And yes, some folks will take it on easier than others, it just depends on their personalities and where they are in their lives, and all that. I’ve seen a different dynamic play out where we went through several mergers and acquisitions over the last few years, and with a merger and acquisition, obviously there’s big change in the organization. So you’ve got duplicate IT systems, you’ve got duplicate staff, there’s massive change that goes on in an organization.

And what I found was that when we did the first merger and acquisition, it was a lot of hard work. We lost some people that couldn’t go through the change, it was tough and it was hard work. The second iteration got a little bit easier, and some people said, “Hang on, we picked up a skill here, we’re going to push this through,” and some of the other folks said, “Hang on, another change, we can’t deal with this.” And by the third acquisition that we did, we realized that there’s a spinoff here, we’ve become change experts. So we’ve gone through the thing so many times now that we know exactly how to merge the tenants, we know exactly how to put systems together, we know how to do integrations, we know when to cut our losses, and we’ve just become these change experts.

And so on that point I’ll say that you cannot overestimate the value of having someone that’s got good change management experience on your team. If you’re lucky enough to have that internally, fantastic, use those people that have gone through those big changes and have that experience. But if you don’t, then go out to the market and find yourself, those skills are out there, the companies that do this professionally, companies like Anna’s, and that, that can help you with that. So having that experience for just change management in your organization, and bringing those change experts, is just going to make all the difference. Baris, does that resonate with you as well?

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think one of the key things for us when we initiate a project is to ensure that we’ve got the right people on the team. And it’s important to appreciate that things change, constantly, whether we like it or not, and a lot of the times what we find is that when clients look to implement InEight, they’ll also be implementing something else. So they might be changing their ERP, or HR system, there’s something else that’s changing. And generally if you’re looking at an implementation of a solution in isolation, and you’re not looking at it holistically, that’s where you have a scenario where change fatigue will happen, because you’re asking people that have a full-time job to be involved in something, and then all of a sudden they’re getting more questions from this other implementation that’s happening, and now they’re working 12 hours a day, and they’re getting tired, and they don’t know what their job is today because it just changed yesterday, so it’s important to take a holistic look at it.

And I’ll tell you, one of the key things that is important is that you can really see organizations that are very good at change, and I must say, Martin, DRA was, you could tell that you have done this before. I remember reviewing your artifacts and looking at how well it was structured and documented, and your operating procedures, and I was genuinely impressed because to us that showed us that you knew exactly how to do work and run your business, and you had a very strategic way of enhancing the capabilities of your business. So that’s really important, to take a holistic approach, and make sure that you understand what, as an organization, you’re capable of doing.

If you have not done a digital transformation before and you’ve not had those failures, you don’t have well-defined processes and operating procedures, then take a bit more of a pragmatic and slower approach to the change, because you will tire your people out. But if you’ve done it before, you have the right people to be able to do that transformation, then go full steam ahead, because your organization is able to handle that. So I see a question in the chat around what level of resources you need in order to be able to do that, and genuinely it changes from client to client, and it very much comes back to what I just said around your maturity as an organization in change management and digital transformation.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, thanks, great offers there. So believe it or not we’ve only got eight minutes left in the session, I think we could probably talk for another two hours on this topic, and then some. So with that in mind, I’d love to probably take just two things, we want to get some closing statements from each of the panel members, but thinking about, we’ve done that implementation, and now the hard yards of actually adopting the solution, and I think Martin and Anna had some really good bullet points in terms of how to really reinforce the decision and really drive that adoption. So wondering whether we can just touch on that before we swing around for some closing thoughts.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Go ahead Anna.

 

Anna Ayoub:

Thanks, Martin. So from my side, adoption is key. We see so many customers get a solution, and then a year later the amount of licenses that get dropped off because it’s just not being utilized. So adoption, to me, is about the measurements, and being very clear in terms of what does your measure of success look like? So is it 100% of your staff utilizing the system? How many times? Is it daily? Is it monthly? What is it that they’re supposed to be doing in it? And then assessing what’s reality versus what your measures of success look like.

Determining why the measures of success are not being achieved, is it because people need more training? Is it because they need hands on support? Is it because your system is not doing what it’s meant to be doing and people are doing work arounds? Or there was a comment made on LinkedIn yesterday on one of our chats around people saying, well the old system needs to be shut down. That’s great if you have that capacity to do that, sometimes we can’t shut down the old system. Or people used to do it in Excel, which is even scarier because you can’t shut down Excel. So it’s around leadership, and it’s around standing up and saying, okay, this is the expectation, and then measuring every time that expectation is being achieved.

 

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic. Martin?

 

Martin Coetsee:

Look, I probably don’t have too much to add onto that, I think it’s such a comprehensive view. Maybe one sentence of comfort for those PMs and change agent really struggling with their projects, keep this in mind, people that don’t want the system today will love it tomorrow. And what I mean with that, and I’ve seen this in action, you come with your new system and your new ERP and you implement, and everyone despises you for ruining their lives, and then they get used to it, and it becomes part of their day to day and that’s the way they operate every day for several years, and then they, without knowing it, learn to absolutely love it. And then when you come with a new system again, they will absolutely despise you for trying to remove their beloved system.

So don’t feel disheartened by what you may be facing today, and people saying, “Why are we getting this new system?” Give them the wise, use all the tips that Anna’s working through, but be a little bit patient as well. People just need to digest and work through the change, and as I said, the system they hate today may be the one they absolutely adore tomorrow.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, great insight. And I think a couple of things that I loved about some of the points that we talked about earlier was around rewarding some of those behaviors, celebrating the journey and those milestones achieved along the way. Now I don’t think the platform cuts itself off right on the hour, but let’s kick off maybe around the grounds in terms of a bit of a closing summary around best practice. So maybe Baris, I’ll start with you, head to Martin, and we’ll close out with Anna.

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Yeah look, I think my closing statement would be, and I’ll address one of the questions that’s come up as well around leaning on the vendor too much during an implementation. And one thing that I always say to our clients, and we try to communicate this as early on as possible, is that there is a trend of ownership that happens, and as implementation professionals the things that we’re really looking out for is how engaged is the client and how quickly are they taking that ownership? Because the reality is the organization is going through the digital transformation, generally it’s not the vendor, like InEight, that’s going through that transformation. So when we see indications, and again, kudos to DRA on this, just the amount of people they put onto it, and the commitment that they made, you could just see that they took ownership very, very early on. So I would say that the sooner our clients take ownership and realize that it is their transformation, and they’re able to take a pragmatic approach to it, the higher the probability of success.

 

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic. Martin?

 

Martin Coetsee:

It’s been a fantastic session, and thanks so much for everyone on the call listening in, and for the panel members. I think this must be the first webinar or online meeting I’ve gone to where nobody was on mute while they were talking, so really great there. Waiting for someone to say you’re on mute, that didn’t happen.

Look, my closing comment should be maybe the following, I’d say first and foremost make a real connection with your users. Really understand what’s in there for them, make that connection, and keep that going throughout the projects. Second, include your users as early as possible, don’t try and design the silver bullet up front and then bring it to them to accept, bring them in the design process right up front and make them part of that journey, they should own the product as much as you do. Get visible support from your SMEs. Yes, the senior leadership has their spots and they’ve got to do their job at the top, but you’ve got to get those respected SMEs in the business and to work with you. And maybe my last piece, and this is probably the most important piece for me, is show authentic leadership, make sure that you truly believe in the business case that you’re putting forward. I’ll close on that, Andrew. Thanks so much everyone.

 

Andrew Harris:

Awesome, thanks Martin. Anna?

 

Anna Ayoub:

So for me there are two parts. The role of the change manager is to be backstage. They are not your communication person, they are not going to be the face of this project. This is a leader’s responsibility. And the second part is the measure of success of change management when we go live and it’s quiet. So it’s very little annoyances coming from your people, not as many questions as you would expect. Unsuccessful change management leads to chaos. So please, please, please plan change at the beginning of your project, it will make a huge difference.

 

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic, thanks Anna. And look, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this topic. It’s so important for all of us, whether we’re leaders in our own businesses, whether we’re selling things to the market, this topic is so key, and it affects us all differently. The keys for me were really the why, where are we going and why are we going there? Because the brand on the box doesn’t really matter when it comes to the software. And going back to really that impact of the individual and how do we help them understand how this is going to benefit them for the long term, so we really get that buy-in.

So a big thank you to all of you guys, both who attended the webinar and to the panelists. It’s not just the hour that we’re here today, but there’s been many hours of preparation and thought and engagement back into your respective businesses to bring this insight to life for the community that’s on the call today. So for everyone online, thank you very much for joining, the webinar will be available for download from the InEight.com website /webinars, and I’m sure we’ll see Martin and Anna and Baris on more sessions in the future. So it’s farewell from us for today, and a big thank you to the panelists for joining me today, much appreciated. Thank you guys.

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Thank you.

 

Martin Coetsee:

Thank you. Bye.

 

Baris Ozdemir:

Be well.

 

Anna Ayoub:

Thank you.

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