Business models are not static, they are ever-evolving. Telecommunication companies, for example, are in a constant state of transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of technology and product adoption curves. In the telecommunications industry, companies that once took decades to transform from analog to digital or TDM to IP must now accomplish transformation projects within months or just a few years. Historically, telecommunication transformation programs underestimated both the time and complexity of transformation implementation, resulting in missed milestones, financial underachievement, and organizational stress. Today, the timelines are shorter, and the transformations are more complex, yet the stakes have never been higher. Change is challenging – Change management doesn’t have to be.
Here are 5 tips for ensuring a successful telecommunication transformation initiative:
1. Minimize the Impact of Change with a Strategic Approach and Realistic ROI Expectations
In many organizations, it is the transformation culture itself that requires multidimensional change. Significant changes are best handled strategically with carefully crafted communications. A well-articulated strategy, business purpose, the expected ROI, and a description of success are fundamental to ensuring the success of an upcoming transformation program. Change is most efficiently achieved when senior leadership is visibly leading the charge and continuously articulating the priority status of the project to stakeholders. Every department that will be impacted by a transformation must commit to the project and dedicate the necessary resources. Siloed organizational structures with non-uniform commitments to transformation will only limit or stall progress on such projects. When it comes to major changes in technology, operations, or systems, the goals and budgets of all impacted departments must align with the organization’s goals and have a clear measure of success, or the entire process may be disrupted. As companies begin a journey of digital transformation and move to a more automated workflow, it is important to ensure that all the associated processes performed by individuals today are either replaced or updated to ensure that the digital and process transformations remain consistent. The key to ensuring a successful transformation is consistent cross-functional communication.
2. Deliver Detailed Project Plans and Well Communicated Timelines
Clear business plans with realistic timelines and financial expectations are imperative for successful transformation. Business plans that gloss over technical, marketing, or operational hurdles that impact the transformation may not gain the support needed for implementation. Ultimately, this can cause the plans to derail and the bottom line to suffer. Effective business plans have clearly identified operational, technical, and demand assumptions as well as measures that allow for early identification of changes that are likely to affect the program’s timeline and financial results. Metrics and measures must be sovereign, allowing for fast adaptation as reality strikes. It is essential to ensure that the right metrics are in place, tracked, and well communicated to all stakeholders.
3. Employ an Agile and Active Execution Management Approach to Guide Transformation
While companies are moving toward an agile and lean approach to transformation projects, they often assign dedicated program manage resources to these initiatives. These program managers are more than capable of tracking any departures from the plan. While these resources are often the backbone of any transformation program, it is important to keep in mind that identifying departures from the plan will not always be enough to lead a company through a rapid transformation. Effective companies employ active execution management processes that merge traditional program management functions with executive leadership capabilities to identify and quantify what must happen to keep the transformation process on track. Standardized dashboard reporting and regular communication with project sponsors are essential. All process documentation must be consistently updated to incorporate any changes in methodology for change management to be successfully implemented. Cross-functional communication throughout every level of the organization must be constant and consistent. The Transformation team that is set up as part of the initial project rollout will stay actively engaged for a period of time post-deployment to ensure success before the new process is handed off to the appropriate organizations. Before this handoff occurs, a change management process must be effectively communicated to ensure that the implemented changes continue to benefit the organization. Transformation is not a one-and-done, but a culture shift to allow for continuous improvement.
4. Commit to Results-Oriented Governance
The success of any transformation project is often defined by executive commitment and leadership’s ability to break through organizational blockades. Leadership must be accountable for the governance of the project, including achievement of results, management of risks, and ensuring satisfactory resolution of any compliance issues. The Northridge Group has found that effective and active governance can speed implementation by up to 40%. A regular cadence of senior leadership readouts with a single set of dashboards should be used to reflect activity and progress towards goals. Documented action items and follow-up is key to ensuring success in any multi-organizational transformation program. Guilt-free escalation pathways should be encouraged to prevent problems from festering at working levels when executive intervention is required.
5. Anticipate Challenges to Effective Supply Chain Management
Once a minor component of most transformation projects, today shortages in equipment and even labor have become commonplace and can spoil the best of plans. In fact, The Northridge Group estimates that, since 2020, talent scarcity and supply chain disruption have created 20%-40% pressure on transformation initiatives. Early identification of equipment, skill sets, or simply available resources that are in short supply will allow leadership to track discrepancies versus plan and intervene to maintain momentum.
The Northridge Group partners with clients who are facing major business transformations, such as network renovation, operational redesign, billing/customer migration, or contact center overhaul. We have managed major transformations and network migrations for large and small telecoms, both domestically and abroad. Virtually all of our programs include layers of analytics – not just during the planning phase, but also while measuring achievement during implementation. To learn how we can increase the speed and effectiveness of your transformation program, contact us.