JEM Retail Consultants providing services in buying and merchandising, Programme Management, IT services and Logistics & Warehousing.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Difficult Decisions when Building a Team to Support Change Management

If your existing management team are fully occupied running the business then how can you second them into programme or project management positions?

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a senior Head of Business Transformation for a well known retailer. They are about to embark on a major change programme and his issue is that the existing management team are fully occupied with business as usual and consequently there is no possibility of them having the bandwidth to participate in the projects that will be required, even assuming that they have the requisite skills and experience.

His question: does he second people from the BAU team and back-fill them in the short term; or should he deliver the change programme using contractors or interim managers?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. It is also one that many organisations in the same circumstances will face and getting it right will be critical not only to the success of the change programme but also to benefits realisation and, I would suggest, retention of key employees.

There is no doubt that involving people from BAU will increase their commitment to the success of the change programme. It is also a unique opportunity to learn about new systems and processes before they become business critical. So involving the existing team is a priority.

On the other hand, they are the only people who understand how the current processes work and are therefore essential to business continuity. Bringing people in to temporarily replace them will involve a time consuming and ultimately throw away level of resource training people to use systems that now have a finite lifespan.

There is also the issue that BAU people are not used to project type work and gaining and being confident of those skills may add to the project critical path.

The answer may be to combine the two approaches. This would involve bringing external people into key programme and project roles to benefit from their expertise, but it would also necessitate being prepared to restructure some of the BAU roles and bringing in additional resource to allow BAU managers to be released to the programme, potentially on a part-time basis to act as subject matter experts for example.

There is no one right answer to this dilemma, but it is a fact that there is a natural resistance to change in most organisations. Involving your BAU team is a key way to break this down and ensure their motivation.

Written by Mike Gamble: JEM Retail Consultants

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