Complementary Disciplines: Communication and Benefits

15 May 2019

Successfully leading business change requires great communication skills. But you also need an inspiring message. What better message is there than the actual benefits of change?

Understanding the benefits of change.

We’ve all been there – we can agree what’s wrong with the organisation (costs too high, sales to low, customer satisfaction in the doldrums, staff not committed), and one person knows exactly how to fix it, but another thinks their way is better and the first is rubbish. Or perhaps we can’t even agree what’s wrong with the organisation. To save on arguing, perhaps we need facts.

Working out how much it will cost is the easy bit (although you still need to factor in risk).  But working out the benefits (what you get back for your investment), is often a bit of a dark art. There are so many factors at play. Some things, like increasing sales, depend on what the competition is doing, and what mood our customers are in. Other things, like our staff commitment to the change, depend on emotions and culture.

Which solution will bring in the most benefits? Or more to the point, which solution will generate the best VALUE?

Benefits Management (sometimes called benefits realisation management) is a robust way to calculate the likely beneficial outcomes of a project.  Properly applied, it quantifies the consequences of the project, the consequences of those consequences, and so on as far as reliable estimates can be made.  With your understanding of your business, and an understanding of measurement, analysis and consequences, we can compare the return on investment of different solutions, and help you pick the right solution.

So that’s the easy bit done.

Making a change – communicating benefits.

Once you’ve made a decision, you want it to happen. That means getting people enthusiastic and bought in (change that doesn’t get engagement will fail – expensively).  

In the process above, we’ve identified what your return on investment is.  We’d do this stakeholder group by stakeholder group:

  • what the customer is going to get out of it,
  • what management get,
  • what employees in the customer support centre get,
  • what administration and receptionists get.    

It isn’t all about money – in fact for many stakeholders, money is the last thing on their mind.  They’re more likely to be worried about the quality of service, or losing their job, or moving to a new team, or not being able to keep up with the technology.  The communications need to be honest, and explain to each person (or at least to each group of stakeholders) what is the advantage to them and what are the downsides.

Honesty is vitally important.  So is integrity. Integrity means that board directors, senior managers, senior staff affected all buy into the change. And they not only buy in, but show that they have bought in.  If staff are being asked to save money on paperclips, then managers will have to stop expensing fancy lunches. If salespeople are working late to bring in more business, then directors had better put in the hours too.

But the key thing is to keep communicating.

The analysis of benefits will turn up a lot of information.  It gives you a lot to go on. You can be honest with the dis-benefits (what people will in reality lose, like time to make a cup of coffee whilst their very slow PC boots, because we’ve replaced it with a fast one).  Then, have a programme for communicating what people will gain. Hugo is a Change Consultant, Benefits Management expert and author of Social Return on Investment (SROI): A powerful tool for the realisation of benefits.