With the constantly accelerating pace of company digital transformation, management controllers and operational managers are regularly seeing challenges to their comfort zone, which changes every time a new technology, accompanied by the new practices it imposes, is introduced. This is why, in addition to solutions, processes, methodologies and reorganization programs, it is crucially important to include change management in performance management projects, if the selected objectives are to be achieved.
Performance management is a central focus for every organization, and all the more so recently, in view of the challenges posed to so many business models, which have had to quickly adapt to the current crisis.
The uncertain environment in which we find ourselves, and, as demonstrated by the survey on the future of management control, published at the end of 2020 by Grant Thornton and Micropole, which questioned 300 managers from all business sectors, the steering of organizations and management control, are all in the process of significant change, with required skills broadening out to increasingly include data skills.
Thus, 69% of respondents think that there is no narrowing of the gap between data related technical skills and the skills held by management controllers. Even though management controllers are still guardians of the data temple, their role as business partner has yet to be fully defined. 43% of them think that the main axis of transformation is improved integration with operations staff, even though over half of the respondents feel that their role involves a sufficient amount of advice and analysis.
This trend is in fact even stronger, in that 69% of respondents feel that recent events will lead to changes in how strategic and budgetary planning is carried out, with a greater focus on looking at different scenarios. What is more, regarding forecasting, 80% of respondents think they will move increasingly towards rolling forecasts (where frequent re-forecasting enables a company to adapt to a changing context).
The role of management controller cannot function without the ability to use technology to analyze, forecast, simulate and communicate. Even if the market for EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) and BI/data visualization solutions has soared in recent years, MS Excel remains the market leader, with 42% of respondents saying they mainly use this particular software solution. There is also an impact on the way operational managers operate.
Changes to management processes and rules, and the need to implement technological solutions (EPM, BI, Datavisualization) producing useful data, mean not just transforming how things are organized but increasing collaboration within these newly transformed organizations as well. Which is why it is so important to support such transformations in the long term, if the selected objectives are to be achieved.
Thus, the support provided must help accustom managers to a mode of management that:
- focuses more on the relationship between strategic and operational objectives
- is based, on the one hand, on clearly defined management rules that are both understood and respected, and, on the other, on reliable, easily accessible data.
The end purpose is for the support to result in managers integrating strategy into their management and being able to base their work on reliable forecasts, which in turn improve the quality of decision-making.
How, then, can such support be provided effectively?
By using a digital platform based on an artificial intelligence engine.
Using this type of tool makes it possible to increase the effectiveness of change management teams (whilst avoiding information overload), while at the same time increasing employee adoption rates; and all this through a system of customized support.
This can be achieved because the right content is sent to the right person – in this case, the person who needs it, depending on their level of adoption.
Full details of the study (in French) are available for download here.
Olivier Rihouet, Digital Performance Management Partner, Grant Thornton
Victor Hayat, Performance Management Expert, InsideBoard