Tackling change management in shared services
Finance shared services
One of the most common issues I hear from shared services leaders who have undergone standardisation or transformation projects, is that they didn’t anticipate how difficult managing change would be. Dealing with people who don’t want to change their ways is difficult. The challenge of getting everyone on-board and changing the way they work is often not fully understood until after the change has taken place.
The responsibility for managing the change is often loaded onto the Shared Services Director, who is already likely to be extremely busy – and probably doesn’t have the time to give the change management process the time and attention it deserves. Also, even the most experienced finance professionals might not have the right experience and training needed to deal with the people issues involved in change management.
Here are some of the key success factors I’ve heard from shared services leaders who have undergone significant change in their organisation, and what they wish they knew before.
Communicate the reason for the change and why it’s necessary for the business. You will probably need to have different communication initiatives for different departments, and will need to tell people more than once. You’ll need to introduce people to the idea, explain it clearly, train people to work in new ways and keep them updated and reminded of progress.
Engage people. While the decision for the change likely comes from the top, it is essential to involve those affected by change. If you don’t fully understand how it affects people, you won’t know how to encourage them to change.
Get support from senior management. When change gets difficult and people are reluctant to adopt new way of working, firm support from senior management will help you stick to your message, and will keep anyone from trying to go over your head or undermining you.
Set targets and milestones so you can continually assess progress. If things aren’t going to plan, you’ll need to spot them early and address the issues keeping you from progressing.
Motivate the team. Install incentives and KPIs that will help people adopt to new ways of working.
Be aware of ripple effects. Particularly when change may lead to a reduction in headcount, prepare yourself to be aware of how will this may impact your business.
Ask for help. The decision to undergo a standardisation or transformation project is an investment in the business. It should help you save costs and improve the service you provide. As the cost of getting it wrong is probably quite high, look to talk to people who have done this before, or look into consultants to help.
Susie West’s recent blog and article on what makes a good P2P process owner are good reads for anyone about to undergo a standardisation process. Have you got any other tips for success in effectively managing change?