How To Manage A Service Transition Effectively

Service Transformation

Organisations are under constant pressure to save money and, for many, this means outsourcing business services or moving to a shared service model. Such models not only reduce costs but improve agility, resiliency and increase flexibility too. However, how organisations manage the implementation of a new service is critical.

The effect of a service transition to an organisation is much wider than just implementing the service itself. It is important for organisations to consider the impact to processes, people, technology, tools and information as outlined in a recent whitepaper. They also need to understand the main risks during a transition:

  • Operational stability and effectiveness – full or partial interruption and outages, ineffective knowledge transfer, compromised security and data privacy.
  • Financial – longer than expected transition, unplanned costs to services, delay in savings.
  • Lack of control – lack of transparency, lack of understanding of new supplier, schedule slippages, lack of supplier understanding of new environment.
  • Resources – key employees leaving, identification and availability of appropriate skilled resources, employee resistance to change.
  • Culture – skills and knowledge gaps, lack of clear and concise communications, roles and responsibilities not understood, not understanding the benefit of the change, staff feeling threatened by the change.

The biggest challenge to any service transition is changing people’s behaviour to accommodate a new or changed service, and this cannot be reinforced enough. Organisational change is critical to a successful service transition – and that means getting employees on side

Organisations need to recognise the roles and responsibilities that will inevitably be affected, and how to manage them effectively with minimal impact to the business. There could be changes within teams, teams could be divided, or different management practises and ways of working may be rolled out.

Staff may be reluctant to share business information and knowledge due to fear of losing their job and, in some cases, if the people are not properly managed, staff may choose to leave the organisation. This will obviously hinder the knowledge transfer and the transition plan. The effect on retained staff cannot be underestimated. New skills and competencies will require training, education and coaching.

Staff may become demotivated and resistant to the change due to many reasons, such as a lack of understanding. Clear and regular communication during a transition is therefore paramount. Stakeholders must be aware of the implications of the changes and what it means to them.

Fundamentally, the best way to manage people during a service transition is to align the organisation’s culture with the change, and engage individuals to bring them along with the delivery of the new solution. A service transition, much like any other largescale technology implementations, is an organisational transformation at its heart. A service transition needs to be matched with a corresponding organisational change.

How To Transition Successfully

Successful transitions only happen when there is a connection between the solution, contract, business outcome and the ongoing delivery of services. The risk of impacting live operations and losing staff is high, so it is crucial the transition approach includes robust planning, getting the right governance models in place and regular testing.

Every transition is unique with many factors to be considered – processes, organisational and cultural challenges, technologies and tools, information, as well as knowledge transfer procedures and business goals, to name a few. Adopting a full business transformation plan will ensure all elements are considered and planned. A robust transition plan must have input from all parties, including both the new and incumbent suppliers.

Knowing how progress will be measured and how benefits will be realised is also necessary. It is crucial that organisational and cultural elements are understood and embedded at an early stage. The plan should incorporate a phased approach for mobilisation, transition and transformation and should also include pre-mobilisation activities and post-transition activities, allowing for new ways of working.

There must also be clearly defined roles, responsibilities, objectives and escalation paths. Having the appropriate communication channels in place allows for the appropriate level of control during the transition phase and allows for the right level of flexibility. Sponsorship is important and the sponsor should be actively engaged and visibly championing the change. A key success factor is communication. The communications plan, with clear and consistent messaging, will ensure all parties are well informed and understand the business objectives for the transition.

Crucially, service testing and readiness assessments will support the evaluation and decision making on whether to proceed through different stages of a transition. The testing should not only cover functional and technical but also business assurance tests, which will include testing governance models, ensuring reporting is in place, service delivery and service support tests.

The bottom line? Any service transition will have far-reaching implications mandating the need for an effective strategy. A successful and well managed service transition requires the adoption of a complete business transformation plan which fully accounts for the organisational and cultural changes. By following this approach, new business processes will be delivered more seamlessly with a much lower risk to live operations. What’s more, ongoing service levels will be achieved, and staff will be retained, reskilled and willing to fully adopt the new ways of working.

Romy Hughes

Romy is director at Brightman, the business change specialist with expertise in Service Integration and Management (SIAM), business transformation and IT Service Management (ITSM and ITIL).