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Top 3 topics to ensure a successful transformation project roll-out

In this blog, I will share my experiences in the past few decades from various different roll-outs, and discuss my main findings and lessons. In this blog I will also assume that the organization has already decided a big-bang approach, where change is introduced overnight in the whole organization worldwide, is not feasible and a sequenced roll-out is the preferred approach.

One of the integral parts of a company-wide tool, process and role transformation is known as a “roll-out”. It is the actual implementation of the change. A roll-out is normally prepared at the corporate or group level and is designed to be used in the same way in various locations with minimum local adaptations. In this blog, I will share my experiences in the past few decades from various different roll-outs, and discuss my main findings and lessons. In this blog I will also assume that the organization has already decided a big-bang approach, where change is introduced overnight in the whole organization worldwide, is not feasible and a sequenced roll-out is the preferred approach. The comparison and decision making between a big-bang and roll-out deserves its own blog.

The roll-out’s main success is in three main categories: roll-out approach and planning, change management, and finally, the roll-out execution itself.

Roll-out approach and planning

In the very early stage of the project, it is recommended to conduct a high-level pre-study and to agree on a roll-out approach with the project steering group. The approach should include at a minimum, how much risk can be accepted and management’s timeline requirements. Roll-out always introduces some risk into the daily operations. These risks need to be considered carefully. Would it be possible to start with the main volume sites that cause possible major risks? Conversely, would it also most likely enable major benefits, or should a lower risk approach be considered. This could also include starting with smaller sites, but it would result in fewer benefits. Timeline requirements have a major impact on the roll-out approach. Could the roll-out be done with one team or if time is critical, more roll-out teams who run parallel to each other could be used. However, this would also increase the deployment costs. It is useful to remember that if a roll-out includes an IT solution, then the roll-out approach would also impact the IT development roadmap to ensure that the first roll-outs will have the required available IT solutions.

When the basic approach has been agreed upon, the actual roll-out planning can begin. There are various other topics to consider related to the detail planning. One important consideration is the availability of roll-out resources. Based on the resources and competencies, there might only be one roll-out team consisting of the core project team members. If the roll-out takes too much time with only one team, then additional roll-out teams are necessary. One of the best ways to get the parallel teams competence ramp-up done, is to have a pilot roll-out. Wherein this situation, the project team supports additional roll-out teams during the pilot. After a successful pilot, the core project team only provides background support.

The change magnitude and target site volumes/number of employees have a major impact on detail planning. In many cases, the change impact and magnitude can vary between target sites. It is recommended to start with a relatively easy pilot site. In this way, the project can get an “early win” and also feedback from the pilot deployment. As a result, the deployment can be adjusted and improved upon for the next target sites. However, the pilot should not be started with an unchallenging site. This would prevent you from getting any valuable feedback. It might cause you to run into a wall at full speed with the next major site.

If a roll-out includes any IT tool changes, the IT tool development and tool maturity will impact the roll-out plans. With an agile and modular approach, it could be possible that the roll-out can start at an early stage of tool development. The main benefit of this approach is that you start to receive the benefits earlier and the change magnitude can be much lower during each release. After the initial module deployments, it can be easier to add more modules when the users already have access to new tools or features and they have existing tool support in place. The actual training can easily be arranged virtually, when sessions can be kept shorter due to the modularity.

Change Management

Change management cannot be highlighted enough in a successful roll-out, because even if the project has developed best in class tools, processes and roles, it is possible that the change will not be implemented successfully to target organizations due to unsuccessful change management. Therefore, what activities should be considered to ensure roll-out success?

The most crucial factor is to successfully manage buy-in and clear communication to their own organization about the coming roll-out. During the roll-out execution phase, it is much too late to start change management activities in the target organization. Communication should also not be only top down but should also include a feedback loop. In many cases, the target organization has several already ongoing corporate level projects. It is good to get feedback, when there is actually enough capacity for your particular project roll-out in the target organization. In an ideal case, when change management has been done properly, the target organization and its staff are eagerly already waiting the roll-out to start and to get changes implemented.

This means in practice that communication about the coming change to the target organization must start early. In many cases, the project has been working on a global/corporate level and the communication has been done accordingly. However, the roll-out needs much more specific communication to each team or even on an individual level. The actual changes to individual roles and responsibilities and the workload must be outlined. It is beneficial to clarify these changes during the early phases of the roll-out. This is especially crucial with roles, where the workload might even increase after the change. As a result, you might expect some direct change resistance. This must be overcome with proper resources and training plans.

Training is another vital component of roll-out change management activity. Pre-work is important before the actual training sessions. This will help to identify the right people and ensure that they really participate in training sessions. The management must establish the correct priorities, such as training over customer visits. The selection of the right set-up for training is also important to take into account the number of trainees, in-class training versus virtual training, time-zones and language differences, among other considerations.

Roll-out execution

The actual roll-out can consist of a series of mini projects in different locations or teams. To enable efficient and smooth roll-out execution, it is recommended that a standardized roll-out package be created and distributed to the local deployment teams. This ensures that the change is happening in the same way in different locations and reduces the amount of necessary localization work. The roll-out package should include a standard roll-out task list with standard milestones and a schedule, communication and training materials, risk plans and, if needed, a cutover plan. It is also recommended that first a pilot roll-out be done with one location/team to identify any changes needed to the roll-out package and methodology. Only after a successful pilot, it is possible to start the roll-out at full speed.

Please remember that there are always some local requirements, which should be analyzed by the global team. A decision should be made on whether those local requirements will actually be implemented and incorporated into the global template. With the local requirements, it is also important to establish proper use phase support and metrics. When use phase related metrics are in place and followed, it is possible to identify possible corrective actions, ensure that change has really been implemented and determine whether the targeted benefits have actually been achieved. If the use phase support process is not implemented there is the risk that the roll-out team will not be able to move to the next location. because they need to support earlier locations and teams. This can quickly cause a delay in the roll-out after just a few initial deployments.

I hope that with these key considerations, you can get your change rolled out successfully and if you need any help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  

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