Using simulation to predict and prioritise change benefits

Rebecca Quille, Senior Business Analyst

Rebecca-Quille-square

Using simulation to predict and prioritise change benefits

Rebecca Quille, Senior Business Analyst

The way that we all live and work changed incredibly during 2020. Many industries were turned upside down and as we emerge from the pandemic, how customers and employees are prepared to engage with you is different. For many businesses, the longer-term financial position, and headcount planning, has become much harder to predict.

So that presents a paradoxical challenge: your organisation needs to make changes quickly but committing to a change plan, and resourcing it, feels risky. Predicting outcomes can feel like high stakes.

In this, the latest in our next expert series, we tackle the important topic of simulation and how it can help you design more flexible change plans, and agree clearer goals.

It’s not only what you change, but also how you change……

The only thing that’s certain in life is that things will change. The ‘new normal’ (if that exists) is not going to be a static model. When ongoing flexibility with the skills and bandwidth to react are so important, three things are going to become critical to any change plan; a unified view of the goal; the ability to adapt and be more agile in how you achieve that goal; and the ability to simulate the outcome of different change plans to decide on the best path quickly.

How do you predict which change ideas are most likely to succeed?

Organisations who have successfully changed and pivoted have often been those who were best at imagining scenarios and testing their operating models and change ideas against them. By having multiple plans in place and advance tested, they have been agile in their ability to react when something happens. Of course, that agility comes from their work upfront to simulate the outcomes of different change ideas for different market scenarios. Simulation helps you validate new process designs by quantifying their benefits, before you commit resources to building them. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as you’re going to get to certainty in change management.

The Simulation module in the Signavio suite

You can of course evaluate scenarios manually but using a tool like Signavio will be faster and give you the flexibility to explore the impact on multiple benefits, to really clarify your goals upfront. Is speed more important than customer experience or not? Is safety more important than cost and where’s the trade-off point? The fact that Signavio can illustrate the impact on each of the important metrics will allow you to have more useful conversations with stakeholders.

We use Signavio to map processes collaboratively (and remotely if required). The most powerful part of the tool is this simulation module. If you want to see a demo of what it looks like you can watch our webinar demo here – where we show a very simple simulation of the resource impact that implementing a track and trace system for table bookings has on restaurant staff and customers.

For most process simulations, the focus will be a step-by-step scenario, which allows you to follow a process flow from one element to another. This single case simulation function allows you to see how a new process will work and alerts you to bottlenecks at individual process steps along the way.

Comparing many instances of the same process will yield different results. With this functionality, lots of different process flows will be started; so you can compare and analyse the resulting outcomes. Seeing how a process operates at high volume gives you a better sense of its efficiency, as well as how it interacts with other processes within your organisation. You can set different criteria for each simulation, allowing you to look at best- and worst-case scenarios before they ever actually happen. It’s the road test you need before you embark on the full change journey.

3 Top Tips for Simulating Change Ideas

We’re known for making change happen together with our clients and we use tools like Signavio to help them.

If we have three top tips for simulating change ideas, it would be these:

  1. Prioritise your change ideas based on both business benefits and user stories. You will often have to make choices here – sometimes you find a solution that’s a win-win for everyone, but often there’s a trade-off required between different metrics and across different timeframes.
  2. Keep it simple and focus on the metrics that matter most. You should capture metrics data as you go – as you’re mapping existing processes or designing new ones, note the metrics that are or need to be collected along the way. After a while, it will become clear which are most important to simulate against.
  3. Start simulation as soon as you have a first draft of any process changes so you can sense check early results with stakeholders and then iterate accordingly. One of the most valuable things about simulation is that it allows you to illustrate clearly the knock-on impacts of intended changes that people may not have considered. Which helps you get to that all-important common goal that makes change happen more quickly.

Whatever type of organisational change you need to embark upon, we can help you with the strategy, design and
implementation, or any one of those individual stages.

Share this expert series