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5 mins w/ Jeff Chua

Interviewed on 20 October 2016

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Senior Transformation Specialist, Gordian Global Solutions

Introductory information about subject’s background

I am a transformation specialist with over 15 years’ experience in project management and change management. I have worked across multiple industries including finance, health insurance, automotive and government.

How did you come to perform in a transition management related role?

In one of my previous roles, I worked as a Production Manager for a major bank. In that role, I was asked to lead and stabilise a recently acquired back office function with a view to transitioning the function into the major bank’s back office team.

This piece of work was totally outside of my comfort zone and I made a few mistakes. However, the end result and legacy this project made on the business and the people made me want to do more transition management initiatives.

How is it different or the same to change and project management?

The same project management disciplines is required in transition management. You need to have an agreed scope, project plan and budget. You also need key project artefacts such as a Risk, Issues and Dependencies register and process maps.

Change management is vital. It’s all about the people. You need to understand who the key stakeholders are and the change fitness of the people.

In transition management, communication is vital so a solid stakeholder register and thorough communications plan is imperative.

Don’t forget about the customer. Transitioning or merging teams will usually result in duplicate processes. You need to ensure the transition does not have a negative impact on the customer experience. Always develop processes with the customer in mind.

What makes good transition management when doing mergers?

It’s all about the people. Understand their change fitness - are the people ready for the change? What other changes are happening in their world that will impact the merger?

Understand the culture of the teams - whilst the team may work for the same department/organisation never assume the cultures will be the same. There will be slight nuances in how the team operates, the leadership and their norms

Understand the businesses being impacted – What is the goal? Is the merger aligned to the overall strategy?

Strong governance – Who are the decision makers? Are all decision makers aware of the merger and are on the same page?

What are the potential pitfalls someone might face?

Underestimating the impact the change will have on the people. Always check in with the impacted people. Involve them in the project where possible.

Never assume – always check to make sure your stakeholders are on the same page

Always keep your sponsors and key stakeholders up to date – no surprises.

How do you get in to this type of work? What types of skills help?

Strong understanding of change management and project management

Influencing skills - the ability to influence stakeholders at all levels from those that are being impacted to business owners and sponsors

Strong communication skills – always keep stakeholders informed from the impacted people to the project sponsor.

Being pragmatic and flexible – be prepared for the unexpected

Be a good listener – sometimes the people being impacted have the best and most practical solutions.