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06 Jul, 2021

How to choose the right tools to support complex transformations

How to choose the right tools to support complex transformations

Organizations are facing a highly dynamic and uncertain moment, with increasingly complex transformations, which makes their management exceptionally challenging. This complexity requires the adoption of tools capable of guaranteeing collaboration between various teams, transparency, and informed decision-making in the transformation journeys. But, what do decision-makers have to consider when choosing the right tools? Should they replace the current tools with new ones? What is the best approach to follow?

A chaotic world is challenging us

The world has always been a complex place, and its uncertainty will not cease to grow; hence, it has been a natural theme of leaders’ discussion, namely the best compasses to navigate turbulent and uncharted waters. This accelerated increase in the level of uncertainty even caused the traditional VUCA acronym, in use since the 80’s, to be replaced. In the article Facing the Age of Chaos, Jamais Cascio, a distinguished fellow of the Institute for the Future, introduced the BANI concept that better describes the current context in which organizations operate and better prepares us to understand our current and forthcoming reality. This acronym means Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible. Brittle because nowadays things look apparently sound and solid, but they are so oriented towards efficiency that a small crack can cause everything around to fall apart. Anxious because any choice we can make might not be the best one. Nonlinear due to the disconnection between cause and effect. And finally, Incomprehensible because it is an extremely difficult, if not impossible, context to understand fully.

Our close work with the leaders of large companies shows us that knowing how to navigate in this environment has been pointed out as their greatest current challenge. But… why did this challenge arise? Because facing this context requires carrying out increasingly complex transformations, in which more and more entities and business areas are involved. Organizations and their people are challenged daily with tight deadlines, new technologies, more partnerships, and a wider range of business units. Therefore, it has become crucial to increase the engagement between teams and provide information in a more centralized and accessible way to quick decision-making. The leaders can efficiently achieve this with the support of the right tools, which will play an essential role in the transformation process.

What do we have to consider when selecting the right tools?

First, we must be aware that there is a compromise between the specificity and comprehensiveness of these tools. On the one hand, some of the areas involved in a transformation will continue to require specific tools. On the other hand, more comprehensive tools (hence less specific) are required to collect and present information from the most diverse areas.

As Dennis Smith and Roger Williams recommend in their Gartner’s article, one of the initial steps of a transformation is to "map existing tool capabilities and processes against your management requirements and evaluate their effectiveness”. This assessment must weigh the contribution of the tool to the organization´s maturation, its capability to support the mix of delivery frameworks, the alignment with specific project use cases, and the ease of adoption. As mentioned earlier, it is also essential to evaluate the tool based on the functionalities that allow greater synergy between teams, how information is stored, and how it supports the decision-making process.

Consequently, there may be the adoption of new tools, discontinuation of others, or their replacement. But often, this decision is also conditioned by factors not directly related to the functionality of the tools, namely:
  • Multi-Year Software Licenses - The company may have subscribed to long-term licenses whose early contract termination would imply a loss of investment.
  • Greater complexity - It would be a transformation within a transformation, given the scope and implications of this change.
  • People training - The adoption of new tools involves training all users on the tools, translating into a greater effort.

Given these constraints, the question that arises is: is it necessary to replace the current tools? We believe that the approach to take is adopting a platform capable of integrating with existing tools and collecting information required for the management layer (a consolidation hub that, not being the master, allows the integration of information). Thus, the answer to the question is "No" if these tools can provide the information to the integrating platform.

So, how can this integration-oriented approach help leaders manage complex transformations?

As Anthony Henderson states in his Gartner’s article, "If you can’t see the work, you can’t make decisions on what should be done and when”. Thus, to focus on the right decisions, we need to make information available to all involved in a transformation process, which presents itself as a challenge since it is usually dispersed, hindering one to make informed decisions quickly. 

We believe that this integration-oriented approach underlies the operationalization of a process – which we’ve coined Information Distribution within Fluid - that involves the continuous capture, organization, curation, and making available of the information required for all the organization’s management levels, providing everyone the same version of the truth in a timely manner.

While not impacting the ways of working more heavily supported by tools (such as build/ delivery-related activities), by providing the means to consolidate scattered information from such tools efficiently, this approach will improve collaboration, transparency, and quick and informed decision-making, which are decisive factors in the effective management of complex transformations.

What about you? Do you also face these challenges when choosing the right tools to support your transformation journey?

  1. Cascio, J. (2020). Facing the Age of Chaos. Medium.
  2. Smith, D., Williams, R. (2020). Rethink Your Infrastructure Management Tool Selection Strategy. Gartner.
  3. Henderson, A. (2020). 6 Practices for Effective Portfolio Management. Gartner.

André Filipe Morais, UX/UI Expert