How can you help subject matter experts to balance the demands of BAU against the demands of their transformation roles?
Most organisations that Quay works with are going through some form of transformation and whilst approaches to transformation differ, what is consistent is that in all cases the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are heavily involved in the process.
Which leads us to the question: How can they balance the demands of a transformation role without compromising the responsibilities of their day job?
The challenge of a ‘matrixed approach’
We call this balancing act a ‘matrixed approach’ to project delivery, where the business-as-usual (BAU) reporting lines and functions remain unchanged, however, a new reporting line and function is added for SME participation in the transformation project.
In summary, they now have two jobs, two bosses, more work and often conflicting priorities.
Our experience – and that of Quay’s clients – is that these SMEs tend to work longer and harder to ensure their day jobs continue unimpeded, whilst also enabling them to provide input into the transformation.
While this increased level of effort is commendable, it is also unsustainable. There is a tangible risk that these SMEs will get burned out and/or that quality will suffer.
Helping SMEs to get the balance right
The reality of SME involvement in transformation projects is that the BAU work still needs to get done. In many cases, there will not be sufficient funding to provide resource backfill and as such, SMEs need to manage both their day and project jobs.
Management needs to acknowledge the dual roles SMEs play and enable them to manage both sets of responsibilities by facilitating different ways of working. For example:
- Looking at where duplication and/or unnecessary effort can be eliminated
- Challenging the necessity of some tasks
- Moving to exception-based task management to free up project time without impacting what the business needs and the quality of what’s provided.
The cost of not actively managing change
Actively challenging BAU past practices, looking at process improvement and supporting staff to work in a different way is as essential as managing the change process within transformation itself.
Without the support of management, staff will naturally work longer hours rather than change the way they function to get the work done. This, of course, can lead to burnout and sub-optimal performance, or in the worst-case scenario, departure from the business.
These negative impacts have a direct bottom-line impact to the business. The cost of burnout and reduced performance affects business as usual work, but the real detriment is delivered to the cost and quality of the transformation itself – a real double whammy.
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