SSE improves its ability to manage major business transformation

Working with IBM Global Business Services to create a robust change-management capability

Published on 04-Jan-2013

"IBM Global Business Services has helped us to build a coherent framework for managing business change across the complex set of projects that constitute our Supply Transformation programme. The work we have carried out with IBM puts us in a much stronger position to achieve the expected benefits of the Supply Transformation programme." - Chris Adams, Head of Business Change, SSE

Customer:
SSE

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Business Agility Framework, GBS - Core and Invest Framework, Transforming Business

Overview

SSE is one of the largest energy suppliers in the UK, with more than 10 million customer accounts and over 20,000 employees. The company has activities across energy generation, transmission, distribution and supply. In addition to supplying gas and electricity to domestic and business customers throughout the UK, it offers phone and broadband and heating and wiring services.

Business need:
As part of its Supply Transformation programme, SSE needed to change its systems, organisation, skills and working practices – but lacked experience in managing change on this unprecedented scale.

Solution:
In its broader role as programme partner, IBM® Global Business Services® helped SSE to build a sustainable change-management capability that is aligned to business requirements and that provides practical tools and guidance.

Benefits:
Provides a consistent and coherent approach to change-management; enables the business to understand the impact of change; gives advance visibility of coming change, and provides tools to manage it; supports accelerated deployment of change

Case Study

SSE is one of the largest energy suppliers in the UK, with more than 10 million customer accounts and over 20,000 employees. The company has activities across energy generation, transmission, distribution and supply. In addition to supplying gas and electricity to domestic and business customers throughout the UK, it offers phone and broadband and heating and wiring services.

Aiming to be “bolder, broader, and smarter”, SSE has embarked on its Supply Transformation programme, an ambitious multi-year investment and innovation programme of unprecedented scale and complexity. The programme aims to enable smarter ways of supplying and using energy, helping its customers to make more efficient use of resources, and making it easier for them to deal with SSE.

SSE had a clear picture of how its business would look in 2020, and an appreciation of the enormous changes that would be required in its operating model, its employees’ skills and capabilities, its working practices, and its systems architecture. However, it lacked the internal knowledge and experience to plan and manage this degree of business change. In addition to selecting external partners to help with the delivery of the system changes, the energy company therefore also sought a change-management partner with the skills to create a self-sustaining change-management capability within SSE.

Chris Adams, Head of Business Change at SSE, comments, “We selected IBM Global Business Services as our programme partner on the basis of their proven track-record of running and delivering on major change programmes for other businesses. But rather than just getting them to manage the transition on our behalf, we engaged them to help us create a new strategic and sustainable change-management capability within SSE.”

Practical approach
SSE’s goals for the Supply Transformation programme are ambitious and far-reaching. Achieving these goals will depend on the successful execution of dozens of multi-year projects and initiatives, mostly affecting three key parts of SSE: Customer Services and Metering; Industrial and Commercial; and Energy Services, Sales and Marketing.

To enable a smooth, low-risk transition from the “as-is” to the “to-be” state, SSE needed to identify the key challenges it faced, to create a common understanding of the impact of change across the business, and to build within the business both the commitment and the capability to tackle the challenge.

IBM Global Business Services took a pragmatic approach; rather than trying to impose its own, proven change-management standards on the client, the team worked with key SSE stakeholders to determine the most important areas to address, and from this derived the most practical approaches to building the internal change-management capability.

“We were very keen to be involved in the journey, rather than simply having some external standards dictated to us,” says Chris Adams. “The new change-management approach needed to be practical, relevant and easily applicable for our business. IBM took the time to understand our specific challenges and – combined with their deep industry-expertise – turned that understanding into a very practical set of tools, approaches and methods that are now applied across the programme and the wider SSE business.”

Keeping on track
The IBM team worked with the existing business implementation managers within SSE to tailor the IBM “Better Change” methodology to suit the energy provider’s specific requirements. The joint team reviewed the available tools in the light of SSE’s requirements, priorities and capabilities, then developed the final toolkit by applying it during a number of pilot projects. This approach helped to demonstrate the practical value of the change-management function to the wider business. It also enabled the new SSE central change-management team to cut its teeth on real projects and build the experience to operate autonomously.

Says Chris Adams: “The IBM team worked extremely well with our employees, giving us the benefit of their significant skills and experience while also listening to our concerns and opinions. The open and consultative approach taken by IBM was a big success factor for the project as a whole.”

The new change-management team acts as an interface between transformation projects and the parts of the business they affect. “We take a consultative approach, helping the business to understand the impact of the projects and to find the best ways of delivering the required change,” says Chris Adams. “The formal change-management capability is now getting attention from departments such as HR and corporate training, because they see its strategic value and want to adopt its approaches for themselves. The big difference in how we work today is that we have a coherent and consistent approach to change management that is managed centrally. This reduces the risk for the business, and helps us to keep the overall transformation programme on track to deliver the expected benefits.”

Beyond the embedding of change-management skills in SSE and the creation of a sustainable central function, another tangible output from IBM’s work is the STP Change Framework, which is available online to SSE users. Backed by training from IBM change experts, this is a central resource for accessing change-management tools, and for understanding how and in what contexts to use them. The tools include documents, spreadsheets, project plans and a variety of standalone assessment applications.

“IBM has helped us to make change management a core capability within SSE,” says Chris Adams. “All projects now include change-management deliverables for each gate, ensuring that project teams are properly addressing the topic and making valid plans to smooth the transition. Equally, IBM has worked with the business to develop transformation roadmaps and readiness plans that give a clear overview of what will need to be done, and how to prioritise it. The feedback from the business has been excellent: they now have forward visibility, and can make better-informed plans about how to deal with change.”

Delivering the long-term benefits
With IBM’s guidance, SSE has developed a complete change-management framework that is fully integrated into the company’s overall project management methodology. Thanks to the skills-transfer from IBM, SSE is now also able to manage and develop the central change-management function over time, so that it can adapt to future challenges. As the company works through its major Supply Transformation programme, the work carried out by IBM will help it to manage change more effectively and consistently. Ultimately, this should translate into higher success rates, lower costs, reduced risk and faster time-to-value across the entire Supply Transformation programme.

With the centralised change-management capability in place, SSE business leaders now have clear visibility of the likely impact of transformation projects, and access to information and guidance to help them make informed decisions about change management.

“IBM Global Business Services has helped us to build a coherent framework for managing business change across the complex set of projects that constitute our Supply Transformation programme,” says Chris Adams. “The work we have carried out with IBM puts us in a much stronger position to achieve the expected benefits of the Supply Transformation programme.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Service:
GBS S&T: Business and Customer Strategy - Business Strategy, GBS S&T: Organization and People - Organization and Workforce Transformation, GBS S&T: Technology Strategy, GBS Technology Strategy

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. January 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Global Business Services are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.