Fall 2018 Issue
When companies embark on transformation initiatives, they invest to improve the business. Their leaders have the responsibility to verify that the anticipated impacts are realized. Unfortunately, anecdotal information is often used to describe the outcomes. The lack of data to validate the results shows a void in the planning and implementation of the transformation.
Validating the impacts of an initiative might not be a straightforward task, but it can be done. Designing a validation process begins as early as the business case preparation. Follow these critical five steps:
1. Identify the target benefits
The best place to gather what the target benefits are is from the business case prepared for the initiative. The business case details the savings, new expenses, head count changes, and other impacts attributable to the initiative. In most cases, the benefits are quantified by year, by department and by task. These estimates form the reference target benefits for validation when the implementation of the transformation is complete.
2. Determine what data is needed
This step involves turning the target benefits from the business case into specific data points that need to be recorded. For example, anticipated savings from eliminating manual order processing equates to the reduction in order processing time by the field order clerks in the inspection department and the service reps in the customer support group. To monitor the time savings, you would need to flag the specific types of orders affected and record the time spent. They identify where in the process you need to capture the required data. Collect data on the status quo too, if they are available, to establish the baseline on time spent today.
3. Incorporate needs in the solution design
As you progress with the solution design, incorporate the data needs in the solution so that you have the capability to capture the data. It is the best time to build the capability for proper data capture because you deliberately think through what is relevant. Many ignore this need until the time comes to design reports. At that point your budget may be running out and the time crunch is on. Insufficient effort is devoted to do a proper job. Without the tools and capabilities to extract the data, you fall back on anecdotal information.
4. Implement the process
The project plan ought to include activities for testing and training on reporting. If these affect multiple departments, ensure there is clarity on which subset of data should be used for proper analysis. For instance, the time for the field order clerk’s work needs to be segregated between the maintenance and the new orders. The ability to separate the associated time spent is important because it distinguishes savings versus work that supports growth.
5. Assign accountability
To formalize the monitoring and reporting activities, assign accountability to the team leader or manager responsible for the work activities. This includes ensuring that the data are captured, appropriate filters are applied, and the report reflects thorough data analysis. Further, the person accountable also has the responsibility to follow up with corrective actions. The corrective actions include resolving problems with monitoring and reporting, as well as with the actual performance of the work.
Being able to validate the impacts of a transformation initiative is a crucial part of accountable decision making. Responsible decisions go beyond selecting where to invest the company’s resources. There needs to be a clear mechanism to measure results and validate the return on investment.
Connie Siu is an expert in building best practices for a high-performance business through operational excellence and effective results measurement. For more than 25 years, she has worked in the trenches with business leaders across a broad spectrum of industries. Connie has served on the board for Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society, the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of British Columbia, and the Transportation Committee for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about Connie’s work, visit: cdcsynectics.com