Prior to any typical transformational change, a lot of effort is placed on the planning phase – exactly how do we plan to execute change projects and how do we test on an on-going basis to ensure its success? It is an integral part of any project and should never be underestimated i.e. if a change if unproven to provide a benefit, why would we implement it?
Over the years, a typical waterfall type approach has been used to deliver a change project. The waterfall approach does have its advantage of being deployed when a project is predictable with set milestones, however with more unpredictable transformation projects/start-ups there are some disadvantages. Let’s be honest, we have all been involved in these projects that forever change, disrupt plans and we spend more time focusing on revisiting the plan in long monotonous meetings which drive us insane! The answer? Welcome to the concept of Model Office.
The aim of a Model Office is to test anything and everything related to the new way of working, in a controlled and open environment which importantly reflects the ideal solution as closely as practically possible. Let’s take you through the 4 stages:
Before kick-off, we need a plan! (Planning Stage)
Firstly, we need to identify key participants for the Model Office. The team should consist of a Model Office manager and a few Model Office practitioners. Once the team has been formed, it is key to liaise with the project owners to align the Model Office with key deliverables including dates and critical path milestones, including both technical and propositional elements. It is easy to focus on the technical aspects only but this should not be the case. For example, a new product proposition as an idea can be tested with a focus group, based on a few facts or conceptual PowerPoint’s. The tech maybe dazzling but if the customer/employee journey does not satisfy, there will be no demand for the product/service.
The Model Office must be run in an open area, visible and accessible to all for full transparency of the project – don’t underestimate the importance of this! The environment should also reflect the real-world state as much as possible. Understandably this may be difficult at the start of the journey, however, as time progresses it is always worth reassessing this. It should be as visual and engaging as possible to represent the progress of the project in a Snapshot at any point – thus creating an interest from major stakeholders within the business.
Now a plan is in place, let’s begin some initial testing (Early stage)
When creating a proposition, one large misconception is ‘we can’t test anything yet as there is nothing tangible to test’. In fact, it is the opposite! The best time to test a proposition is right at the beginning when you start building a concept. Yes, at this point a lot of discussions will be held and stored on a whiteboard however, any concept no matter how sure you are of its need should be tested with a target market (rough target market if unsure at this stage). Any insights that you find early will be vital in shaping up a perfect proposition. Based on initial brainstorms led by the proposition team; whether its wire-frames or rough notes on a new business process – business scenario walkthroughs can always be conducted and tested. This can be conducted by making use of props, role play and pieces of paper rather than depending on real systems that have not yet been developed.
Deep dive into our offering (Mid Stage)
The mid stage of the Model Office usually occurs when the first tangible output is available and ready for you to test i.e. Mainframe Technology System. We can utilise the new process produced based on the initial proposition inputs. These processes should be tested as vigorously as possible, based in an environment which should emulate the product/service as closely as possible. As well as conducting the test itself, the results are equally, if not, more important. If there is any unexpected result, this should be fed to the appropriate team to determine whether a change request should be created. The customer and employees are at the centre of this new way of working, and if their journey is affected; highlighted by the test result, we need to ensure that this is acted upon now – it is the whole purpose of this test!
At this point, the Model Office should be functioning at full speed and insights should be flying through all work streams related to the project.
Major tests prior to Launch (Late Stage)
This final phase is where we can look to performing all Business Scenario’s moving towards a position to sign off the product/service. The people factor becomes a large consideration as the Model Office then shift their attention to insuring that the business itself is ready for the new product/service. This includes adequate training, whereby environmental needs are all considered and in place prior to the launch. At the end of this stage, the product/service is effectively ready to launch. The Model Office team at this stage would usually remain to test ‘Day 2’ offerings that could be added to the service as it enters go live and adapts naturally to the real-life environment.
Model Office application in the current Market
This way of working and testing a new product and service is new yet a proven technique that has been used in various sectors. Currently, within Financial and Public Sector especially, there is a push towards robotic process automation or hybrid models, the latter combining the use of digital advances whilst incorporating human interactions/elements i.e. offering remote banking solutions. Creating or adapting processes to create this new way of working is a lengthy and challenging task which needs to be planned, tested and executed very precisely to ensure that the customer has a smooth journey throughout, whilst the business can provide the product/service at minimal cost and high levels of employee satisfaction. The Model Office provides a simple yet effective platform, ensuring that the product/service is fully ready, tested and meets all requirements prior to the launch.
So just how is Model Office transforming the delivery of change?
There are three enablers that allow Model Office to transform how we handle change. The inclusion of all stakeholders involved from the offset by showcasing the Model Office, allows for a complete agile way of working; removing any doubts of misalignments/misconceptions from occurring. Not only is the Model Office there to showcase, but it is also a function to test and communicate results to all departments concerned, allowing for a collaborative environment for all and drives innovation to create the best product/service offering. This methodology really is changing the way we tackle every changing environment of transformation projects.