10 essentials when delivering global change & transformation programmes

Delivering change and transformation on a multi-national or global scale is very different to a single country implementation. Factors such as time zones, language, culture, and local buy in, can be significantly challenging when delivering transformational change. Here are the top 10 tips from our consultants leading such change initiatives. 



  1. Align central and local change leadership


Programmes implementing change across diverse business units depend on committed and capable leadership: 


  • Choose the right sponsor, who is committed to the change and provides the right advocacy. 
  • Central leadership should provide the vision for the change and transformation programme along with the key objectives, business case and articulate the benefits for both the central and local organisation. They should manage the plan, and overall budget and establish the ways of working, providing support and enablement to the whole team. 
  • Local leadership should ensure close integration to the central team. They should provide the local knowledge and context where implementations will require a regional slant such as legal and tax reporting etc. They should also be responsible for coordinating local implementation and ensure that the business case adequately supports local objectives and manage the local benefits realisation. 


If this dynamic is not effective it leads to stress, conflict, and resistance which will be amplified across national and cultural boundaries. Planning early for key people spending face-to-face time, fostering local understanding and ownership of the change is essential. 



  1. Invest in building a global team


Delivering and implementing business change effectively is all about people. More specifically, it is about teams of people working together, efficiently and with shared objectives. 


For a global change and transformation programme you need a global and inclusive team: 


  • Ensure there is an effective global kick-off and that all regions are invited. Be clear on their involvement and the phased timing. Ensure communications are in place to keep the ‘lagging’ regions/implementations engaged in the programme. 
  • Identify key events and activities where you really need the team working and pulling together. 
  • Ensure that plans and budgets allow for bringing the teams together (virtual and/or physical). 
  • Careful planning in creating a single focused team will pay huge dividends overall. Ensure the right governance and control is established from the beginning. 



  1. Get the right people in the right place


There is a right place for everyone. Consider where the deployment team needs to be based and their alignment to the in-country teams. 


Think about where teams need to be: 


  1. Where is the best place to deploy the central team? Is there a need for this team to re-locate as implementations progress? 
  2. For efficiency co-locate functional teams such as Finance or HR teams, where possible. 
  3. Identify the right SMEs and Process Owners, always considering the backfill requirements right up front. 
  4. Locate key coordinating roles where time differences are manageable. 


Getting this right reduces regional, language and cultural issues, as well as cost, and stress. 



  1. Be clear on the deployment approach


One feature of a global change and transformation programme approach that is often overlooked is the style of deployment.  


At one extreme is the pull model: The solution is created centrally, and each country deploys the product in a time that suits their business. 


The other extreme is a push model: The programme gains the mandate to tell the countries when and if they must take the new product.  


When deciding which approach to take you should consider customer impact, deployment time scales and cost, the product itself and impact on relationships with in-scope countries, as well as local legal or regulatory requirements (such as legal reporting requirements). 


Working more towards a “pull” model with a few larger countries and a “push” model with the many smaller countries might be a good hybrid model.  



  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate


Effective sponsors and programme managers know that as well as keeping key stakeholders informed and aligned, there are many other stakeholders that need varying degrees of understanding about: 


  • The programme: Why it is being done, what it is doing and how it is doing it. 
  • The status of the programme: What are the key risks, what are the upcoming milestones, what is the deployment status? 


For an effective global programme communication strategy, you should consider: 


  • The fact that deployment is not being done at the same time to all, so what people need to know at any point in time will be different. 
  • Language for the programme may be standard across the organisation, but not across the impacted countries. 
  • One style of communication may not fit all cultural nuances. 
  • Time-zone differences may make communication more challenging. 


Getting the global programme communication right just makes everything else so much easier. 


  • Build the right change capability via a ‘change network’ across the organisation with local ‘change champions’ who understand the business and culture, are well respected and can deliver change messages effectively. 



  1. Make the sequence work for all


The sequence of implementation can sometimes be a given. However, where it is not, there are a couple of competing options that you might want to think through: 


  • Big countries (markets) first: The 80:20 rule allows you to prioritise the larger countries first and then deal with the longer tail of smaller ones. This potentially gets the bigger benefits delivered earlier and allows the programme to develop the solutions and approaches that will be used later, for the smaller countries. 
  • Smaller countries (markets) first: Depending on your risk appetite, an alternative approach is to trial the implementation on one or two smaller countries, testing and improving the way that it is done, in preparation for the larger, more complex implementations later.  


The right choice will depend on many factors, but the key ones are complexity of change and risks associated with the change and transformation programme. Both approaches have their merit and if you are fortunate enough to have a choice, exploring variations on these options is an especially useful exercise. 



  1. Build flexibility into the plans


Many stakeholders would like an end-to-end plan for the entire programme up front. 


Seldom this is practical but a good planning approach for large programmes is to ‘hard lock’ the next quarter and ‘soft lock’ the remaining plan allowing a necessary level of flexibility. This approach works particularly well for global programmes because it allows for the inevitable challenges with local culture, approaches and legislation that will arise during programme execution. 


Therefore, focusing on the next quarter and making the larger, more complex countries the anchor points in your plan allows you to maintain the required flexibility and respond to changes, risks, and issues in a timely manner. 



  1. Make the solution appropriate for all


Every country is different and has its pre-established ways of working. Changing those to fit a global solution can be challenging. Here are some of the common differences that can trip you up: 


  • Plug-and-play: When deploying organisation-wide standardisation, care must be taken to ensure the solution itself is ‘plug-and-play’ so that subsequent changes are manageable and containable – and local differences in implementation modules (such as tax or reporting) can be effectively managed when delivered to BAU. 
  • Performance: Technical infrastructures still vary significantly across the globe. You might be wise to anticipate performance challenges with issues such as authentication and cloud-based IT solutions, infrastructure, latency. 
  • Regulations: Whilst there has been a lot of regulatory harmonisations in recent years, the rules and protocols still vary a lot. 


Early engagement with these aspects of any solution is vital if delays and costs are to be minimised. 



  1. Balance the requirements


When capturing the requirements for the new solution there are two competing levers in play: 


  • Keeping the complexity of the solution manageable, and thereby reducing cost and schedule pressures resulting in the central programme team pushing hard for a common set of capabilities across the in-scope countries. 
  • Or local leadership pushing hard for local variances to be considered, and thereby keeping implementation as simple as possible, but potentially complicating the solution, increasing cost and time to deploy. It may also increase the cost of later changes to the solution or BAU run costs. 


Choosing the right mix of common, standardised requirements versus local deviations is a balancing act. Finding the right balance is the remit of the Design Authority with a strong lead and global representation. 



  1. Get the right support – supplier and partners


The involvement of suppliers and partners is more complex when you ask them to support global delivery and deployment. 


Whilst the bulk of external involvement may be in designing and building the central solution, the need for local support means early involvement of in-country procurement teams. To be effective they need a clear understanding of the different areas where support is required. There may not always be a need for a one-size-fits all model; splitting suppliers by regions or functions is fine, so long as you manage and drive the integrated solution and plan from the centre. 



Do you need change expertise? 


At Project One, our team of senior change experts have been there and done it and can help you deliver your change and transformation successfully, avoiding pitfalls along the way. If you’d like to know more, or just need a sounding board, please get in touch by emailing – the team@projectone.com  

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