Fortune 50+ organizations are quickly adopting OneStream Software, the leading Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution. The impact of this platform now extends beyond the “finance only” audiences of traditional close and consolidation tools. OneStream supports modern Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A), resulting in organizational change management needs that reach far beyond finance.
Organizational change management is all about the “people” who are touched by the project directly and indirectly. It is different than information technology change management, which focuses on controlling the “system” development. Elevating your organizational change management needs is a critical success factor for all projects, no matter the size of the project. Effective organizational change management requires understanding the business impacts, identifying all stakeholders early, and establishing cohesive training and communications strategies and plans.
Although effective organizational change management helps prevent transition issues, organizational change management is a commonly neglected and/or an under-invested area by the project sponsor. Underinvesting routinely leads to project delays, budget overruns, and user adoption issues. Often critical stakeholders are not identified and communicated with until the testing phase, which means the finance project sponsors miss the opportunity to understand and communicate the CPM project’s cross-organizational impacts. This leads to rework because critical business requirements are overlooked, are missing, and are only discovered late into the project’s lifecycle.
At Finit, we assist our clients with thinking through their needs and developing a strategy for organizational change management. We aim to go beyond the build, beyond minimal training, beyond basic communications activities, to explore and plan for all potential needs.
Our approach enables us to offer a range of support and assistance:
Light: Providing tools and template
Advisory: Assisting with the development of project-specific methods
Full: Providing workstream leads across our 4 framework areas
We help create a strategy that addresses the needs across the organization and define a timeline for each phase of the system development lifecycle.
Finit’s Organizational Change Management framework includes 4 key areas:
- Business readiness
- User engagement
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Having an executive alignment strategy, with a clear method for monitoring business readiness through KPIs, is essential – especially for projects that will be introducing methods that are new or different from how things have traditionally been done. For organizations looking to transform how they close and plan today, it’s important to identify the level of impact this change will have on your stakeholder groups, finance, accounting, commercial, sales, human resources, R&D, manufacturing locations, field operations, warehouses etc. It is equally important to engage leaders from each of these organizations early in the project lifecycle by engaging them as project steering committee leaders. Giving a voice to these critical user groups early helps ensure everyone is aligned on the approach and takes ownership of outcomes. Once onboarded and engaged in the project’s vision, executives for each stakeholder group are responsible – throughout the program lifecycle – for ensuring the end-state business process integration, business acceptance, and the business readiness of the design meet their requirements.
Questions to consider are:
- What CPM insights are missing from what finance provides today?
- How significant of a change will it be for your organization to move to OneStream? How will working in OneStream be different from how your organization currently meets your CPM needs?
- Are you utilizing the opportunity with OneStream to rethink how you do things today? Or, will you simply be doing a “lift and shift” from your current platform to a modern platform?
- In addition to finance leaders within your organization, what executives need to be involved in requirements gathering and design reviews?
We often find that OneStream changes how people do their jobs, and it can have far-reaching effects. With OneStream, data is in a single platform supported by standard global processes, versus multiple legacy solutions supported by decentralized processes and teams.
Consider your users.
- Do you understand the degree and type of impacts your OneStream solution will have on how they do their work?
- What is your strategy for planning and conducting user engagement activities?
- Will you create a change management network to assist in creating two-way communications to understand “what’s changing” across the organization?
Consider HR impact and testing.
- Who will be developing new organizational reporting lines, job descriptions, and role competencies?
- Do these changes impact job grades and pay levels? For example, some of our clients are taking this opportunity to create reporting and FP&A centers of excellence or shared service platforms.
Another often-overlooked component of user engagement is to take the time to architect the testing efforts to align with new or changing roles and responsibilities. Aligning with your human resources leaders as you define your user engagement strategy is necessary to understand the details of how changes in roles, responsibilities, and organizational alignment will be handled.
Consider user engagement beyond go-live.
User engagement does not end when the system goes live. Our clients who take monitoring their user engagement and user experience seriously find that the time needed for new process and system stabilization and adoption are significantly decreased.
Communications is an often under resourced area. Our clients who define their communications strategy early in the design phase do well with resourcing a team that meet the demands of the entire project lifecycle, and beyond.
- What communications forums exist within your organization today to leverage as communication channels?
- What is the culture of your organization, are video and/or written updates common?
- Will your project be leveraging a project portal to keep the team and extended users up to date?
- How will two-way communication be fostered from the project executives down through the workstream leads and team members?
- Will you leverage a professional corporate communication team or will your project leaders plan and author cohesive project messaging?
- What is the best timing or cadence for communications?
- Who will take ownership of ensuring communication happens throughout the project? Who will take the lead on addressing questions and concerns?
Once the strategy is defined, the leaders of the communications team will easily be able to develop detailed communications plans and channels with the correct cadence throughout the project phases. Using a finance team member to lead communications efforts can work. However, the more complex, transformative, and organizationally far-reaching the project is, the more imperative it is to engage a communications professional for this role.
On the surface, training seems simple, especially with Finit’s train-the-trainer approach. This includes step-by-step instructions and admin materials for operating OneStream in accordance with how it is designed by the project team. However, a successful go-live takes into consideration the training of all users. Depending on the project’s size – and with the FP&A, reporting, and dashboarding capabilities in OneStream, “all users” can extend far beyond the average core team size of 3 to 10 key users.
Consider the following items.
- Will your OneStream app be used by non-finance users? (e.g. Sales, Commercial, HR) Will this be the first time for this user group to engage with a CPM application?
- Based on the make-up of your planned user community, what is your organization’s approach to training? Is there an internal training team who are skilled in creating curriculum based on different users’ needs, roles, expectations? Or, is this an area of competency for your core project team?
- Does your core team have the skill set to deliver engaging training sessions?
- Will you create additional materials beyond what Finit provides? Our clients who do this well often include assets such as embedded videos, quick reference cards, materials translated in multiple languages, and an additional group of users beyond the core team to provide reporting support and expertise.
- What metrics will your organization use to measure training effectiveness?
Organizational change management talent and advice
Generally, finance and IT professionals do not possess the grey areas of these softer, “it’s all about the people” skills. We are inherently skilled in understanding the black and white financial business data and results-reporting forecast, actuals, and understanding variances. Clients who are successful with organizational change management select their leads carefully and engage assistance from corporate teams who are outside of finance, or they will engage external resources for assistance in key roles.
Don’t make the mistake of under-resourcing your organizational change management needs. Small projects within a specific finance area can be covered with either a part-time or a full-time resource. However, as the project size and organizational reach grows, clients who manage organizational change management well often have teams that exceed 6 full-time resources and include separate leads for each of the 4 framework areas: business readiness, user engagement, communications, and training.
When you staff your team with internal resources, think through the skillsets that are required.
- For your business readiness lead, consider someone with deep business relationships; one who is an effective listener with the ability to assess, influence, and assist both employees and leadership teams to efficiently move from one mindset, process, and/or environment to another.
- For your user engagement lead, consider someone with deep functional expertise and deep user relationships with effective listening skills, and the ability to motivate others to act, to resolve conflicts and overcome challenges, and to inspire creativity.
- For your communications lead, consider someone who is an effective listener with the ability to articulate thoughts, to express ideas effectively, and who possesses strong oral, written, and visual communication skills.
- For your training lead, consider someone with the ability to identify training needs, create curriculum, produce training content, manage and evaluate competency of resources, create additional training content when and where gaps are identified.
Plan for and define your organizational change management strategy early and include associated costs in your business case to support your CPM investment approval. Carefully select the workstream leads. Be sure your team members possess the needed skills and core competencies.
When you plan your CPM implementation, go beyond the build. Remember that organizational change management is as important as the design and delivery of your OneStream solution. Without it your CPM journey will be more costly.
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