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Should you change the way you manage change?

Posted: 3rd September 2020

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging commercial year. As many business leaders now face a period of significant change, we hear from Craig Mackay, CEO of Edinburgh-based software company Sharktower, as he explains why and how data could be the game-changer for how you manage change.

 

In the April/May issue of the Business Comment magazine, I wrote about how businesses can use data to respond to consumer demand and commercial competition. Obviously, Summer 2020 has thrown us all a major curveball, but as we move towards the end of a challenging year, I’ve been reflecting on change management, and how innovative leaders can deliver the continual, pivotal change that businesses need to survive and grow.

Firstly, all management is change management. Even ‘safe hands’ leadership calls for development and progress. And as we regroup and re-focus on the future, change management will evolve from a project-based discipline to one that is advising on business outcomes.

Now is the time for those who normally deliver the change to finally begin to drive it.

And if competition and consumer demand are driving that change, data is the fuel.

Back in 2017, contributors from EY and Harvard Business School wrote an article stating that Data Can Do for Change Management What It Did for Marketing.

In it, the writers explain: ‘The combination of predictive analytics, large data sets, and the processing power of today’s computers is starting to transform change management. Just as the discipline of marketing has transformed from soft to hard science in the past 20 years, so too will the practice of change.’

Three years on, and that future has arrived, and real-time, predictive data is available to those who are managing change projects every day. But before the data can make an impact, business leaders need to explore technology that not only supports the day-to-day, but also makes data-driven decisions feel like ‘business as usual’.

That means you need:

Real data (not anecdotal feedback)

Manual reporting will never support business agility. Not only are the hours spent collating data a repetitive drain on time and effort, the resulting data can only ever be out of date. For confident decision-making, you need immediate, automated access to real-time delivery data.

Powerful tools and insights

Data’s great if you’re able to quickly interpret what the hell it means. Sure, a bunch of stats and figures might be good enough for those running a single project (pretty rare these days), but when you’re overseeing multiple complex projects, you need technology that can analyse the data and make it actionable.

Sharktower’s ‘Explainable AI’ turns abstract data into actionable recommendations

Platforms that have augmented intelligence and predictive models built in are the key to unlocking the value from your data, so you can mitigate risk before it happens and make informed recommendations about how to respond.

Scalability

The problem with old-school tools like Excel isn’t just that their laborious, they’re also not scalable. Every time a project is created or updated, it feels like re-inventing the wheel, not to mention that those spreadsheets aren’t talking to each other (and some poor person has to spend their time cutting and pasting instead of doing what you pay them for).

A robust project management platform brings all your project and portfolio data together in one place, where you can view the bigger picture, including cross-project dependencies and resourcing issues.

It gives you the visibility you can never get when the data’s tucked away in 50 different spreadsheets.

Tech that works for everyone

Augmented intelligence doesn’t replace people – it’s designed to empower and enable them, at every level of the business. So the platform can’t just be clever; it has to user-friendly and accessible to everyone.

From day one, I was determined that Sharktower would offer each of our clients ‘unlimited users, forever’, and that still stands. Only then can it help you build a more collaborative, cohesive culture – especially when teams have different skills and now, more than ever, are working remotely.

Does having access to all of this make change easy? Definitely not. For various reasons, big transformation projects have always suffered high failure rates. But harnessing the data you already have is the most positive, proactive step you can take to regain visibility and control, and give your teams the tools they need to deliver the future.

So what’s the best way to be ready for change? Start embracing it now.

 

Want to know more?

If you’d like to talk about how Sharktower can help support innovation and change in your business, please feel free to email me directly at craig.mackay@sharktower.com

You can read more about the problems Sharktower solves for business in this article, written by our Product Knowledge Lead. Six problems Intelligent Project Management Software Solves

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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