By Sairam Bollapragada
The Focus in transition is a key success factor and if you lose the focus, lots of things may fall off which would be impossible to re-gather to move on. While the statement is simple, the act of holding things together really needs multi-tasking, intense planning and precise execution. If not done meticulously, it can be a huge challenge, if not a nightmare! The following areas of focus need to be kept in mind:
- Change Management
- Client Management
- Risk Management
- Communication Management
- Quality Management
- Issue Management
- Scope Management
- Schedule Management
- Resource Management
- Security Management
- Transition Program Management
- Cutover Management
Apart from that, on the bolt-ons, we have the following areas to look into:
- Vendor Management
- Transition Planning
- Pursuit Handover
- Checklist usage and Tools Management
Change Management is the key ingredient of any transition and all other topics get covered under this one umbrella if we were to put across our experiences. Afterall it is a game of Management of Change (MoC)!
Change being inevitable starts with change in the team and the team members who walk in to support start bringing in changes which come in trickles initially and then the trickle grows. The changes could be people, processes, or technology. However it assumes larger proportion when the Transformation activities are chipped into the plan and then the landscape itself is prone to change due to business needs and compulsions.
Client Management is another area which is very critical and due to collaborative nature of the MoC, every service provider must take the customer along in the journey. Having said that, client actually should be the source of change requests and unless the client plays the game with the objectives clearly defined, the outcomes can be un-satisfactory. However, that little nudge as technology service advisors sometimes becomes mandated to push in the right direction.
Risk – no change and no gain comes without risks and Transition is no exception. Risk Management is key since there are bits and pieces tending to fall all over during this journey as turbulent it may be. The risks can be from availability of teams to platforms to vendor behaviours, etc, etc. It is hence very critical to upfront start dealing with risks through identification by understanding the customer contours. This is where the experience of the transition managers counts. If a person playing the role of transition manager has seen this earlier, he can smell the risks much ahead in the game . However, make no mistakes as all risks are not defined or cannot be. Risks can come in any shape or form or time and hence transition managers need to tread carefully to build sufficient mechanisms to mitigate them upfront. The booby traps during transitions in the form of risks are difficult to gauge upfront – all the time.
Communication is a very critical weapon in the transition kit. If you don’t build/define the communication with stakeholders, the transparency suffers and this is where the client can become most apprehensive. An appropriate communication plan should be included in the Integrated Transition Plan document and relevant stakeholders, mode of governance & communication should be defined.
Quality is driven by mutually defining the set of structured processes for the engagement between client and us. All metrics must be unambiguously defined and reflected in the reports. Afterall, what gets measured gets done!
Issue Management should commence the instant you start identifying the risks for the engagement and this happens much earlier in the pre-sales cycle when you are assessing the landscape to takeover. Risks, not mitigated would eventually become issues which need resolutions and hence being proactive and diligent is critical to optimize the level of issues during the transitions.
Scope is very critical and unless we use base-lining techniques, it will only add to the turbulence during the journey. There could be instances where the elements of transition will change, the number of devices or number of applications, etc but we need to work on lead times. Many times, client would keep changing the scope, be it applications, devices, window of services, L1/L2/L3 definitions as per his perspective, etc – but may still expect the deadlines not to be shifted. This is a real challenge and hence you have to keep impressing the risks of doing a quick and dirty job in view of these changes. If the client confirms the risk appetite, it becomes easier to take up the risks. Hence a risk profiling of the scenario must be documented and submitted as a formal report or deliverable as part of the Change Management Process.
Related to the above, are Schedule and Resource management aspects. The Changes above would have a direct impact on the schedule, deadlines, resource needs in quantity and quality. I have seen the in-flight changes to scope and that, if not handled deftly and diplomatically, can turn into a relationship disaster. Your focus should be on transparency so that you find a natural sympathizer from the client organization (hence you should insist on identification of a Client Transition SPOC). Mobilizing resources is another challenge, even in large organizations. Hence please expect hard negotiations on lead times.
Security Management is more an item for set up and steady state but the seeds are sown during the transition and hence is highly inflammable if the team members don’t understand the impact of NDAs and data privacy. It becomes one of the activity in the transition plan to have a 30 min briefing by the program manager to all team members on the contractual obligations on security and its breaches – more so, the consequences.
It is highly advised to have a TPMO – the Transition Program Management Office – commissioned as part of the start-up. With so many things flying around, in transit, in change, dynamically changing around, one should have a single stop shop to manage that and that Management of Change office is the TPMO where such things are noted, notified, called out, actioned, resolved – driving all towards the destination milestone!! Many times this is given a miss and this is when you cut corners, especially for engagements greater than 40+ FTEs, you will feel the heat in the course of the engagement.
When ready to take over, your set of clients for the commencement of such a change in services, may, also change. They could be the end customers for your clients or your clients themselves. Whoever be the stakeholders, all must be notified of the upcoming changes in the services, from when, what will change (call-in numbers, especially), who will be responsible, improvements if any, change in processes -if any, etc. Hence a the TPMO must establish the Transition Cutover Command Center (TC3) for communication in advance so that service disruption due to non-awareness is vastly optimized.
There are other areas that come into play during this Management of Change:
- We could be in a situation where we need to manage the Vendors on behalf of the client. If there are many such vendors where contract novation happens, it is ideal to set up a multi-vendor council (MVC) as a general practice.
- An Integrated Transition Plan is a blueprint with all planning aspects addressed comprehensively including the mpp for schedule of transition, RACI, etc., that becomes a rulebook establishing who will do what and when. This is another thing that should be used as a deliverable to the client and sign-off obtained.
- When the focus of activity that passes from sales to transition, especially if the transition manager is not involved from a pre-sales stage, may things can drop hence creating a gap between what is committed and what gets delivered. Hence there should be a window for a proper Pursuit Handover activity to the transition manager. What gets handed over to the transition manager is the expectations sold to the client.
- Checklist usage and Tools Management: non-establishment of a transition kit upfront can lead to scampering in between for proper checklists and tools. Usage of many tools, yet struggling to deliver a proper clean report is observed as outcomes of poor planning and casual approach to transition. This can become a nightmare as without appropriate tools, you cannot control the drive to destination.
Net-net, planning and continuous monitoring is key to any transition and Transition manager who is not entrenched into the details, would create a difficult journey for himself and the team with severe impact to the QoS!