A few weeks ago, Parker Avery blogged about the key distinction between software and solutions. We suggested that despite the proclamations of most technology vendors, software alone will not solve business challenges. Solutions will. This week, we take a different perspective on that same theme as we unwrap what true business transformation entails.

What is Business Transformation?

For many years, companies have touted their execution of “business transformation” as proof that they are nimble and resilient organizations. Leaders point at the transformation of their business as evidence of their unique executive management skills.

Behind many stories about company transformations, the truth is often far more nuanced. “Business transformation” is too often simply a label applied to decisions that are intended to change the trajectory of an organization. For such decisions to stick—for them to be truly and sustainably transformational—the complex art of change management is also required. The Parker Avery Group’s perspective is that rather than viewed as a “bolt on” to transformation, change management must be an integral part of a company’s overall transformation strategy.

Change management is what converts business transformation from a noun into a verb. Transformation by itself is analogous to replacing the transmission in a car. The mere act of replacing the transmission simply results in a new piece of equipment. However, with appropriate change management tactics—in the forms of understanding the audience (in this case the driver), intentional messaging, tailored training, and follow-ups—the driver of that car understands how they can take advantage of new performance features offered by that transmission.

Installation vs. Implementation

As a more concrete business example, the installation of new software is often heralded as the ‘transformation’ required to propel a business closer to its strategic objectives. However, for that software to be truly adopted and integrated into the day-to-day business operations of the business reflects a far more challenging goal than installation. This is not to downplay the importance of proper software installation which entails blueprint, configuration, integration, data cleansing, and many more technical activities. Indeed, those tasks are key to the successful installation of any business application—but they don’t drive true transformation.

The distinction comes when installation of new software is fused with implementation of new business processes, roles, responsibilities, goals, and incentives which are aligned with strategy to enable desired capabilities. True business transformation is driven by change management and requires an array of hard and soft skills that vastly exceed the traditional scope of a new software installation. Effective change management drives user adoption and builds enthusiasm by explaining how the transformation benefits not only the organization, but how the users are a critical part of the overall success. Users and impacted stakeholders are far more adaptable and willing to adopt change when properly engaged throughout the transformation journey.

Business Transformation is Long Term

Traditionally, business transformation was considered as a point-in-time accomplishment: important, usually strategic, but largely short lived. When embraced and heralded by company leaders, change management is the secret sauce that turns transformation into a dynamic, ongoing, and long-term organizational capability.

If you have any questions or thoughts about your own company’s transformation efforts, we would love to hear from you.

Deanna Emsley & Rob Gentry

Contact Parker Avery