Written by Vincent Govaers
Transforming an organization can feel like pushing a wall that doesn't move an inch. You can lose yourself endlessly in details or stay in a high-level conceptual phase for ages while nothing changes. Neither motivates people working on the project nor delivers tangible results or desired financial impact. So how can you avoid these pitfalls and succeed in your transformation? A use-case-based approach could help your company break down the metaphorical wall and get things moving brick by brick.
Avoid slow and ineffective large transformations.
Before we explain the use-case-based approach, we would like to share some of our learnings about large transformations. Today, we see many organizations betting all their money on one giant transformational programme. These so-called big-bang approaches seem very promising at the start but require huge investments throughout their lifecycle. To avoid costly mistakes, it is good to remember the following:
Keep it small: a transformation is not something that starts one day and ends another. Most companies are continuously transforming. Chopping it into smaller, manageable pieces that can be finished in a foreseeable timeframe, will boost your chances of success. It will enable you to track and feel progress and work from milestone to milestone.
Keep it simple: multiple-year roadmaps describing every detail, are often only successful in textbooks. They take a lot of time to build and manage, often need huge spreadsheets to document a spaghetti of dependencies, and they change a lot during the execution. Keeping things simple will allow you to work on real value-adding activities.
Keep it real: the success of the transformation is not determined by the quality of PowerPoint presentations. Big-bang approaches often remain stuck in a conceptual phase. The project scope is unclear, and milestones are literally years away. Instead of slide decks, use MVPs, prototypes or test runs to show real progress.
In conclusion, you should enable your teams to work on something tangible and rapidly experience the transformation's benefits. Otherwise, they will feel like their contribution is insignificant and get disconnected from the transformational programme.
Create real impact through a use-case-based approach.
A use-case-based approach is one of the most practical ways to transform your business for real. It is not less ambitious compared to the big-bang method. The difference is that a use case-based approach focuses on solving specific problems by keeping things small, simple, and real.
A use case is a real, tangible problem that all stakeholders can understand, has a clear objective and is solvable relatively fast. It should describe who wants to be able to do what. For instance, 'The logistics team wants to lower downtime by 80%' or 'The BI team wants to perform real-time analytics on datasets ABC'. You can make a transformation more practical and effective by identifying use cases. In short, such an approach follows 3 steps:
Identify real problems: Gather insights on issues the organization faces today through workshops and interviews with all layers of the organization. Ensure the business easily understands all problems. For instance: Where do we lose time today? Where do we see more automation potential? Which analyses can't we do today but wish to do in the future? Which offerings are missing? etc.
Cluster and prioritize: Analyze and cluster the identified problems in improvement opportunities. Some pain points might need the same type of tool, other issues can be related to certain business processes or parts of the organization. In terms of prioritization, some problems are urgent to tackle due to upcoming regulations, while others require high investments and effort but are less pressing. It might be wise to complement insights gathered through workshops with expert advice on clustering and prioritizing at this stage.
Roll-out: Define your use cases in detail and start solving problems one by one. Try to create real value rapidly using prototypes, proofs-of-concept, or MVPs. Remember to keep it small at first. This will allow you to test quickly and work effectively towards sustainable, long-term solutions.
Through use cases, you will not only create value more rapidly. Using this approach, the purpose of the transformation will be easily comprehended by the teams. As they are involved right from the first step, you will have a bigger base of support early in the project.
Innovate and grow exponentially by re-investing the value created and knowledge gained
Finally, use cases enable your organization to be more flexible, dynamic and grow faster. You can re-invest value created quickly to solve more issues. On top of that, you will build knowledge much faster as you can test ideas quickly on a small scale. Last but not least, you allow your organization to make mistakes. Usually, things do not work out immediately. By keeping things small, you decrease the cost of failure significantly in your organization which leads to more innovation and motivated teams.
Do you want to learn more about use-case-based approaches or discuss how this could benefit your organization? Reach out to one of our experts firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.