Transformation Starts with a Situation Analysis

March 26th, 2015 || No Comments

Regardless of industry, the need for transformation often expresses itself through the same, all-too-familiar client and employee pain points. There’s a general sense of increased difficulty in “working with the system.” To pinpoint the root causes, we start with a structured Situation Analysis to review these familiar signs and organize them into patterns that represent the organization’s current state.

You Are Here

Think of the process like walking through a large, unfamiliar airport. You recognize many familiar patterns—people with luggage walking or queuing to go somewhere, airplanes standing by outside the window and taking off or landing in the distance. Even if the signs are in an unfamiliar language (much like the domain knowledge of any company), it doesn’t matter because you’ve been in many other airports. You know that, to get where you’re going, you need to orient yourself.

So you walk to a directory sign and find the “You Are Here” indicator. Doing anything else could be counterproductive. Otherwise, you risk dashing off in the wrong direction and wasting time/resources—and possibly missing the flight. Regardless of the local language (the domain or market), there’s always an “X marks the spot” indicator of where you actually are.

Once you find this spot and take a quick look around, you immediately feel better because you know where you are right now.You’ve pinpointed your current state with respect to the greater framework (of the market, for example). Equipped with this knowledge, you’re ready to start moving toward your “Desired Future State” (e.g., sitting in your seat on the right plane going to the right location on the right schedule).

Identifying “Here”

The Situation Analysis follows a simple structure to interview the stakeholders and review the most representative artifacts of the current processes. This process enables us to identify key issues—starting with the business, then looking at technology—and simultaneously dispel any prevailing urban myths. Using tools like “The 5 Whys,” we peel back layers of pretense and obfuscation that unavoidably pervade organizations in need of transformation.

“The 5 Whys” technique comes from the plaintive question asked by all inquisitive children: “Why?”. By asking “Why?” each time we are given a pat answer, we can distill obstacles into their essence. Consider the following example, which involves billing errors.

Client: We always send about 10% of our Invoices to the wrong place. Then we don’t get paid timely.
Tech-Azur: Why?

Client: Because that’s how often the system has the wrong contact person in the “Bill To” field.
Tech-Azur: Why?

Client: Because sometimes client contacts change jobs or leave, and the system doesn’t get updated.
Tech-Azur: Why?

Client: Because nobody’s really accountable to keep track of staff changes on our clients’ end and update the system.
Tech-Azur: Why?

Client: Because our defined roles and responsibilities haven’t kept up with the changes in our business.
Tech-Azur: Why?

Client: Because until this conversation, nobody really thought about the negative impact of leaving this responsibility undefined. Now we get it.
Tech-Azur: Okay. Thank you for thinking it through with us.

Situation Analysis: Goals and Outcomes

In sum, the Situation Analysis identifies the current state of an organization, as well as the underlying root causes of pain points in the following areas:

  • Client relations
  • Interdepartmental communication and collaboration
  • Financial operations

The analysis prepares leadership teams to tackle organization-wide transformation by providing the following:

  • An objective view of the company’s current state, its organization, resources and capabilities, and the primary root causes that are inhibiting growth and progress.
  • Concrete recommendations (including estimated budgets and timelines) for addressing these root causes through a structured Business Transformation process.

As a result, the executive management team and key stakeholders can make informed decisions about strategy and priorities, as well as commitment of company resources.

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