How to carry on when your executive sponsor leaves halfway through

Soundar Rangarajan

How to carry on when your executive sponsor leaves halfway through

Soundar Rangarajan, Vice President, Capgemini’s Business Services

Bringing a new sponsor up to speed quickly

Whenever we begin an engagement with a new client, or propose expanding our current service delivery, our teams perform several weeks of due diligence and research. This involves analyzing our client’s current processes and infrastructure, interrogating the specifics of their ideal end-state, speaking with a wide range of stakeholders, and customizing a proven model to their organization’s exact needs. The transition model and the transformation plan we eventually present to our client is one that we are completely confident in.

This next story outlines why that preparation, grounded in years of best-practice experience and extensive research, is so important in building a client’s confidence for big transformations. This team quickly on-boarded new leadership by relying on the quality, the consistency and the conviction of their planning.

Mid-2015, Capgemini was commissioned by a Fortune 500 construction company to help manage the increased workload as a result of a recent acquisition. The opportunity to further improve performance encouraged Capgemini to respond with a comprehensive target operating model. The design was ambitious and proposed a number of incremental steps that would optimize, standardize and consolidate all of the customer’s global finance operations.

“When we first tried to show them the benefits of a global transformation model, we spent a lot of time showing them proof of concepts from other clients of a similar size, and in a similar industry,” says Soundar Rangarajan, Vice President, Capgemini’s Business Services. “They were already quite familiar with outsourcing, and so while they were prepared to sign off the initial investment, we still had to convince them that they also needed to use this window of opportunity to drive a wider transformation.”

Initially apprehensive towards the large-scale digital transformation Capgemini had put forward, the client was eventually convinced of the design’s feasibility after many detailed discussions. The model that the team wanted to implement aimed to digitally transform and automate many of the finance and accounting processes across all of the client’s global operations. On the face of it, it was a large, and rather daunting transformation. But Soundar’s team realized that they needed to attain complete buy-in for this larger vision upfront, instead of trying to recreate the momentum for change later on in the process.

“When an organization is already undergoing change management, as we were, you have an opportunity to also drive through a more holistic transformation at the same time,” explains Soundar. “Otherwise you run the risk of letting 30 operations around the world learn 30 different processes, and then asking them to unlearn those processes again in six months. We had the chance to standardize processes across the business, which would make them easier to automate and assign robotics to later on. We were confident that the plan would pay off.”

Fortuitously, the client was also in the process of assembling their regional and GBS teams while Capgemini was creating their two-anda-half-year transformation roadmap. This gave the Capgemini team the opportunity to consult on the organization of the GBS team and more closely align the progress benchmarks against their transition schedule.

With the modeling complete, Capgemini created an internet-based application that allowed the client to reduce their billing cycle by two days, and the transformation was on track. However, on the cusp of deployment, the plan was unforeseeably waylaid when the head of Global Business Services (GBS), who had signed off on the proposed model, suddenly left. The Capgemini team was suddenly faced with the prospect of no executive sponsorship— hindering their ability to deploy the global design.

The Capgemini team and key stakeholders from within the business had trust in the planning work they had done to date, and were determined to remain on track. A new acting head was assigned— the CFO of one of the client’s biggest business units. “Essentially, our customer’s customer was now our point of contact,” Soundar clarifies.

Over the course of just a few months, they were able to quickly onboard the new head of GBS, and gain an important executive sponsor in the process. In February 2016, the team spent an intense two and a half days getting the new head of GBS up to speed. By April, he was providing the executive sponsorship to help the team drive the transformation throughout his regions. And by July, he was ready to add 25 more projects to the roadmap. What could have been a major setback for the transformation, was quickly addressed by the great work the team had already done in developing the process model and transition roadmap.

“Because we were following a very structured, transparent, and disciplined transformation methodology, we were able to seamlessly proceed with the transition while enabling the new CFO get up to speed with the vision and goals of the program in no time,” added Pooja Malhotra, Senior Director of Global Transitions. “It also helped the client teams focus on the global transformation and move away from regional aspects which helped create a culture of standardization across the organization.“

Thanks to the small steps the team took in adequate planning, effective on-boarding, and the conviction in their own design, the team was able to seamlessly transition the roles from an incumbent service provider and is continuing to deliver value at scale to the client’s business, in line with their original planning.

The results:

  • Simultaneous global transformation of multiple locations
  • Speedy onboarding of a new executive sponsor
  • 25 new projects added to the transformation roadmap after just six months