This is especially important in the context of the Broker Front Office Tool (BFOT) strategies aimed at streamlining attracting, selling to, and servicing indirect channel partners and resellers. This aspect of bringing the Voice of the Customer (VoC) into the transformation of it initiatives into channel-based strategies is even more difficult than evolving change management programs within the four walls of any organization. Bringing change to agents and the indirect channels in the context of the Broker Front Office Tool (BFOT) forces the issue of gross margins, channel training, and pricing applications, three of the highest priorities for any agent, to the forefront of the change management strategies. Literally any channel relationship hinges on these three priorities and the extent to which strategies can be created to accentuate and strengthen a company's ability to deliver on these is the extent of the lasting success of any channel-facing strategy. it' contribution to making these three priorities a reality and sustaining them is where best practices in managing stakeholder interests and prudently managing resources comes into play. Stakeholder interests of indirect channel partners is heavily dependent on gross margins and their own profitability, yet the most successful Broker Front Office Tool (BFOT) and policy management strategies also hinge on making a company relying on these agent-based and channel strategies easier to do business with. At the center of aggressively managing stakeholder interests especially where indirect channels are involved is the need for balancing revenue and margin generation on the one hand, and the necessary applications for better serving their own customers, partners, and sustaining their relationships.
Assessing the Impact of Technology on Decision Making
The change management plan defined for this project assumes that the delivery of applications and their use, maintenance and upgrading for greater functionality is going to be revolutionized over the next five years as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solidifies its leadership position as the dominant software business model. In terms of managing change and ultimately making the Broker Front Office Tool (BFOT) applications more adaptable to how both agents and employees within the organization's jobs are changing. For many organizations there is the requirement of being out in the field, serving channel partners and solidifying relationships, much more aggressively than has been the case in the past. Having thin-client applications that can be accessed from any web browser, at any time, from any location globally is what is driving the growth of Salesforce.com for example.
Exacerbating the speed of technological change that impacts the change management plan defined in this project is the shift in purchasing power happening within many organizations. Now line-of-business executives including sales vice presidents and general managers of many companies hold the balance of power in the purchasing of applications. Further, these same executives often are called upon to deliver greater and greater sales performance and results over the years. The need for having a technology platform that can shift with the needs of line-of-business executives is critical. Implicit is the fact that the one-size-fits-all strategy of implementing enterprise-wide applications is now longer relevant to the line-of-business strategies companies are undertaking. The SaaS business model on the other hand is permeable enough to align applications, services, and modifications to the varying needs of users. The fact that SaaS also aligns better to a process-centric view of change in companies needs to also be considered.
Implicit also in the shift from licensed and often large-scale applications that take significant effort to maintain and upgrade is the continual challenge of re-selling and re-educating users throughout an enterprise. For example the migration from Oracle's 9i platform to Oracle 11 is nearly as significant as a shift between vendors. The shift of versions even on the same vendors' platform can cost a company literally millions of dollars and thousands of hours in lost productivity. The SaaS model as defined throughout this change management program looks to create first an agile, responsive platform that can continually re-align itself to the changing business needs of the organization.
Analyzing the Evolving Role of Ethics
The major ethical issues that are pervasive in the development of this change management plan is the need to keep accountability, honesty, shared ownership, and transparency at the forefront of each phase of the change management process. Starting with accountability, each phase of the change management plan seeks to provide measurements of progress relating to process re-definition and process re-engineering first. Accountability also must pervade the involvement of every member of senior and executive management to ensure there is widespread visibility and trust in the change being advocated. There is also the critical need for transparency at every level of management, both in terms of rewards that can be accrued and the risks associated with the change. Finally there needs to be a complete level of transparency as it relates to senior management's motives for the change in business strategy that is being fostered through it initiatives. At the center of all these efforts to create higher levels of ethics is the role for senior management to move into trusted advisors of change. This, from a formal managerial perspective, is critical.
The other side of leadership and ethics are the ad hoc leaders, or those leaders in an organization others consider their true leaders. The strategies for creating evangelists rests more with infusing ownership first, then giving these evangelists the freedom to re-define processes and in effect "own" them infuses greater credibility and transparency than any other action from senior management. How all this ties into ethics is that at the cornerstone of being honest and trustworthy is handing the control of any strategy to those that will benefit it from it most; the users. For the ethical considerations as they relate to change management, the embracing of accountability, honesty, transparency and shared ownership must start with senior management working very diligently to make it initiatives reflect the needs of users. Further, senior management must allow users to measure performance to their own expectations, being transparent about both the strengths and weaknesses of the it systems supporting strategies
The Agenda (2003) - Chapter 4: Put Processes First. The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do to Dominate the Decade. Accessed from Michael Hammer and Company website on October 2, 2006:
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