Business Transformation: A real world example
At risual we have the concepts of Cloud, Business and Digital transformation. Cloud transformation is concerned with transforming a client’s IT infrastructure. We ensure the client has access to modern IT and is operating it using modern practices. Business transformation focusses on the internal workings of an organisation. It looks at the business processes and systems (both IT and non-IT systems) to ensure they are efficient and optimised. Digital transformation is more focused on providing digital services to our client’s customers, through improved use of data and digital solutions.
In this blog, I am going to outline how we have used business transformation internally within risual. This will help readers understand more about this piece in the transformation puzzle.
risual is a long-standing Microsoft partner with a rich history of technical excellence; consequently, we are known for our technical blogs. However, this blog is more business focussed so it highlights the benefits of business transformation. Also, whilst modern IT is important and plays a part, it is not the measure of success. Success for this project was not about deploying more technology.
Business transformation looks at the internal business processes and systems within an organisation. It is concerned with the way that employees go about their day-to-day work. Business transformation ensures that processes are being done efficiently and effectively, whilst making use of appropriate tools. We wanted to evaluate our Project Management Office (PMO) processes to understand how this function was operating. We wanted to see if any improvements could be made.
People working within the team felt that some tasks were repetitive and took a long time to complete. Other tasks were being done outside of strategic business systems. Information was copied from systems into spreadsheets etc and then put back into those systems. Additionally, PMO needed to take on additional governance responsibilities. At the time, these could not be done without increasing the number of people in the team. We needed to understand if there were efficiencies that we could gain to improve how tasks were completed and to make space for additional work.
We started by understanding what PMO was doing day-today. This proved to be quite eye-opening. Whilst the high-level tasks were well understood by those outside of PMO, the detail of what people needed to do was quite surprising. Processes that have evolved over time often look cumbersome when viewed with fresh eyes and dedicated time! We mapped out all the processes that PMO performed. We ensured we had documented processes and procedures so that they could be fully understood. This allowed the team to get assistance from the wider risual consulting team. It allowed us to look at what was being done and suggest more efficient ways to achieve the right outcome.
It is important to highlight that the people working in PMO were seeking to make improvements. They knew which parts of their job were difficult or time-consuming. They already knew where the issues were. However, they were focussed on the day-job so did not have the time in their day to make improvements. This is a common problem in almost every job and one that I am sure we all can relate to. This is where a project team with dedicated time can be used to kick-start the transformation process.
As with most business functions, our PMO work their magic as part of a larger business process. At a very high and simplistic level, our Sales team process opportunities through to a successful order. This is where PMO pick things up to take the order through project delivery. After delivery, PMO hand over to Finance for invoicing. We found that, to make improvements in PMO, we needed to make changes to the inputs they received from our Sales team. Additionally, we could see where improvements could be made inside of PMO to make things better in the information that was given to Finance. We sought feedback from across our business where people had interaction with PMO. We wanted to understand what worked well or caused frustration. The different perspectives on the PMO processes were important to provide a rounded view.
What started out as a desire to improve PMO, quickly expanded to include other areas. However, this was encouraged since our clients and our business overall would benefit.
Many of the improvements that we could see related to data. We were not using much of the data that we were holding. This was often because it was unstructured data held in documents or spreadsheets etc. Examples are project weekly reports, task lists and RAID logs. This data was difficult to access and quickly went out of date. Sometimes it was because data was not being captured and processed in the right way. Again, these issues are very common in most businesses.
Our solution used the same systems we always had, but in a more strategic way. This allowed us to find better ways to treat data. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do as a business. Therefore, we wanted to keep our client data in one place. Dynamics 365 has been the obvious place for many years. We wanted to use the various applications at our disposal. We just needed to use more of what we already had in Dynamics 365.
With the data repository sorted, we needed to find ways to input data and combine the various pieces of information. This way, it could be presented to people in PMO and to other Project Management teams. The Power Platform was incredibly useful here. Using no-code or low-code solutions, we could create applications to use to input data rather than using Word/Excel. There were no significant changes to what was done by these users. However, using more modern tools allowed us to use the data more effectively. With data input directly into Dynamics 365, dashboards from Power BI allowed PMO to make business decisions using clear, timely data.
With data stored more appropriately, we could automatically flow data between systems as needed. Previously we needed people to manually move data between systems or trigger processes after something had changed. Now, automation would do this for us. This included creating alerting to say that things had been done. Again, the Power Platform helped us here.
Through this work, we used the original documented processes to identify ways that we could automate. We took the approach that we wanted to automate as much as possible because we felt this would bring the most benefits such as:
- Removing the need for people working in PMO to be involved in some processes (the processes became fully automated)
- Reducing the time that people working in PMO needed to be involved in some processes (the processes became partially automated)
- Identifying processes that could not be automated which highlighted them as requiring people to perform them.
- Data quality and accuracy was improved since checks were built into processes. Even processes which could not be automated were improved with cleaner data.
- Throughput of work in PMO could increase since availability of people was not a limiting factor. Also, process automation meant that capacity for concurrent work could increase.
- The reduced workload (created by automating or partially automating processes) meant that additional work could be taken on by PMO which otherwise would have been impossible without increasing the headcount.
Finally, the new processes were mapped and documented so that they could be continuously evaluated and updated. With technology improving frequently, PMO will review their processes periodically to make sure that further process improvements can be made.
The efficient use of modern technology was important in realising the benefits of our business transformation for PMO. However, the culture within the PMO team was the biggest contributor to the success of the changes. We were fortunate that our team were open to new ways of working. They were able to contribute thoughts and ideas about how to improve. The management team encouraged and provided support, but the changes needed to be adopted by those who run the processes every day. These people also need to understand the benefits that business transformation can bring. They need to know what is in it for them, their employer, and their clients/customers/citizens etc. Achieving this level of knowledge, understanding and trust requires purposeful action and a structured change methodology. This people change process is critical to the success of a project of this type.
We needed to use the skills of some technical consultants, but many tasks were completed by people in PMO who learned new skills and then applied them appropriately. We initially needed to create some time to get things underway on the project. However, once the initial, heavy-lifting tasks were completed, transformation became smaller but more frequent. These changes could be done by the PMO team in their normal working day. We expect this constant transformation and improvement to our processes to continue.
Given that our team in PMO were able to find ways to make their processes easier and more efficient to run, they could get satisfaction from the result. Our people in PMO made a positive contribution to their own jobs which is exciting. Additionally, by freeing up time through automating some more mundane tasks, time became available for more interesting work which required their project management and governance skills. The PMO job became more interesting with more challenging tasks which is driving personal development. This is an excellent example of the positive impact of business transformation.
Our success criteria
Business transformation is not about technology. It is about caring for your colleagues in the job that they do. If there is a way to constantly improve their job and remove any tasks that do not require a person to complete them, you can find time for much more interesting and value-adding tasks to be completed.
An engaged team running efficient processes was the true measure of success of our business transformation in PMO. Having this continual improvement process culture within PMO and our wider organisation will ensure that we can sustain implementing improvements indefinitely.
My colleague Lauren recently published a blog relating to some of the work that is done in PMO and the improvements they have made: Project Governance Reporting Improvements – Risual
In this post, Abby explains some more about business transformation and what it is all about: Business Transformation.. What, How and Why? – Risual
If you want to discuss more about what transformation could mean for your organisation, feel free to contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org