Users Tackle Business Transformation in Parallel Teams

Quintiles Transnational CIO Bill Deam engages teams to map and perform business workflows.

What's a good way to ensure acceptance of process transformation?

A method I am using to achieve transformation and acceptance in one go is with two programs running in parallel. One determines the "to-be" process and the other focuses on getting people to want to work the new way. We use this parallel process because the two groups influence and support each other. It does us no good to run with a new idea from the process-defining group if the change-management group finds it impossible to move people from the old process to the new.

Our goal is to reduce by at least 20 percent the time it takes to test and approve new drugs. In my experience, this level of transformation can't be driven by us in IT saying, "Here is a new system that works this way." The people on the front line must determine how to strip out complexity and improve their workflow, and IT supports them.

Think Visually

On the process side, we set up a group of business-user domain experts in a big room with whiteboard-painted walls to work out the end-to-end "to-be" state. The experts outlined the current model on one wall and spent several months with that information all around them for reference as they negotiated the creation of the "to-be" state. They then mapped proposed processes on the opposite wall, drawing connections between new and old.

The function leaders who walk through the mapped-out process to validate the changes love this approach. People want to understand their new roles, not what a new system will look like.

Act Out

At the same time, our second group has been working out what individuals must change to perform the to-be-state processes. They do this by walking through the new processes in labs that mirror the existing environment—from clinical monitors to call-center personnel. This is particularly useful when the domain experts aren't sure about a new process. The experience of the "actors" informs the necessary changes in a way that hypotheticals never could. And if something doesn't work the way the experts expect, that process is sent back to the whiteboard team to have another go.

No matter your method, your mantra should be, "Try, learn, adapt." Take advantage of users and their ideas to ensure a better result and level of acceptance. Everyone wants to be part of a process they helped improve.

Deam is executive VP and CIO at consultancy Quintiles Transnational and a CIO Executive Council advisor. E-mail mentor topics to

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This story, "Users Tackle Business Transformation in Parallel Teams" was originally published by CIO Executive Council.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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