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Strong change management is vital for businesses to retain a competitive edge. Stagnating businesses are likely to suffer in the market relative to faster moving competition and those who fail to manage change properly may experience unpredictable results.

While ongoing change of some kind is common among businesses, intentional change within a deliberate framework is both rarer and more useful. To achieve this, a business transformation strategy is required.

Such frameworks for change – set out within a business transformation plan – give leaders the power to direct change for the better.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What a business transformation plan is
  • Why business transformation plans are necessary
  • What a business transformation plan should include
  • How your business transformation should be presented
  • An example of the kinds of change a business transformation plan can help with (increasing sales with microsites)

By the end of this article, you’ll know the answers to all these questions and have taken the first step towards creating a strong business transformation strategy – the foundation of positive change in your organization. Let’s get started.

What is a business transformation plan?

Business transformation plans are documents containing your business transformation strategy. They outline your plans for modifying the way an organization does business. 

Typically, a business transformation plan will set out the type of change that an individual or team within an organization believes is required to enhance the company’s ability to achieve specific business objectives.

Business transformation plans sometimes go by other names depending on the kind of change they’re intended to support. A digital transformation strategy document is one example of a type of business transformation plan.

How a company decides to innovate will depend largely upon whether this is the first time a business has gone about undertaking a formal program for change management. 

Businesses that have never approached change management strategically before are more likely to continue attempting to make changes on the fly. Organizations at early stages of growth are more likely to fall into this category.

On the other hand, those professionals with experience in change management are more likely to decide that a business transformation plan is necessary.

Why prepare a business transformation plan?

There are three main reasons that tend to lead a business to conclude that a business transformation plan is necessary: 

  • Market shifts: Businesses that collate competitor intelligence (CE) maintain an awareness of their competitors’ activities. Through active monitoring, marketing departments can discover emerging trends in the industry that threaten to jeopardize the competitive advantages that the business currently enjoys. Such monitoring can inform a decision to make a change.
  • Opportunities for improvement: Leaders occasionally discover that one or more business processes aren’t delivering satisfactorily. For instance, a business that sends sales proposals as emailed PDFs may discover that too many of these are going unopened. As a result, the head of marketing and pursuits may decide to transform their sales strategy. We’ll come back to this idea later. 
  • Outside input: Many businesses decide to leverage the expertise of outside consultants as they review their processes. When these consultants identify ways processes could be improved, it can spur leadership towards the creation of a business transformation plan. 

What should a business transformation plan include?

Clearly defined goals

When trying to bring about any change, whether in business or in everyday life, it’s helpful to set clear and achievable goals. 

One extremely effective framework businesses and individuals often draw upon to do this is the set of criteria collectively referred to as SMART goals.

You may have heard of this framework. Each letter in the acronym SMART refers to a criteria that most useful and achievable goals share:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable (some prefer ‘attainable’)
  4. Relevant (though other versions render this as ‘responsible’, meaning that the goal has a particular owner accountable for its achievement)
  5. Time-bound

Why bring this up? Because good business transformation plans are intended to guide their organizations to some end result. If the intended aim is hazily defined it’s harder to agree on a strategy to achieve it because it’s unclear precisely what would constitute success.

To use one analogy, it doesn’t matter if you have the most accurate map in the world. If you’re not sure about your destination, you’ll struggle to chart the best route. 

To illustrate how a plan to improve communication with potential clients could be improved with a SMART goal, let’s return to our earlier example about email opening rates. 

Overall, the pursuits team wants more prospects to actually see the sales pitches they’re sending to them. Based on analytics about how many prospects are currently clicking through to view the digital sales proposal microsite, the team may be able to establish a baseline upon which to improve.

With this number in hand, the team can specify that they’d like to increase the click-through-rate (CTR) by 25% (measurable and hopefully achievable as well as relevant to their overall aim) within three months (time-bound).

SpecificYour business transformation plans need to hone in on defined targets for change. For example, the way in which your organization handles sending sales proposals.
MeasureableIf changes are achieved how will you know? Businesses need to offer appropriate yardsticks for assessing the outcome. For example, a 30% increase in sales relative to a previous date.
AchievableIf the transformation cannot be achieved, then those involved in the process are going to struggle. A 400% increase in revenue quarter on quarter might be desirable, but if this isn’t realistic you’re setting your team up for failure – and that won’t motivate anyone.
RelevantMake sure that the transformation aligns with your company’s vision and stated business objectives. If the organization’s sales strategy no longer prioritizes in-person pitches, shouldn’t your plan focus elsewhere?
Time-boundProjects need both a defined owner and a due date. A project without a deadline is likely to languish as competing priorities with firm cut-offs vie for attention.

While a business transformation plan is likely to be far broader than this in scale and ambition, this example illustrates the value of a clear goal. With this definition in hand, the pursuits team will know when they’ve failed or succeeded and have a far easier time developing a strategy. 

For best results, make sure you do the same.

A breakdown of the steps to success

Business transformation plans should contain a description of the current process or workflow which the business is trying to change and the steps towards the planned end state.

Transforming established processes can be hard work. An unclear plan introduces extra work into the process, as team members struggle to interpret instructions and decide what’s required. The business transformation plan should therefore contain a clear plan for how to get from A to B. 

Large projects seem less daunting when they’re broken down into small parts. The process of identifying each step required to reach the objective and any dependencies is the core work of building a business transformation plan. 

While upending your sales team’s workflow overnight might seem tempting, in practice, it’s usually better to take things step by step and arouses less resistance among the team. A set of milestones along the way can make the whole process of transforming mission-critical sales workflows seem much more palatable to everybody involved.

Finally, things tend to work better when there’s a specific point-person in charge of seeing the transformation through from developing the project requirements through to implementation and evaluation.  

A large business building
Just like a large company, a business transformation plan can seem daunting. But by breaking it down into smaller chunks, it can become much easier to understand.

Defined responsibilities and resources

Who’s going to be the internal champion spearheading the move towards microsite-based sales pitching, or whatever your own business transformation is intended to achieve? 

Your project owner – who may or may not be a professional project manager – should have enthusiasm for the project and the authority to see it through to completion. 

And who will the project owner/manager work with? What team members will they need full-time? And who else will they sometimes need to draw upon? 

Non-human resources too, should be specified. It would be tragic if the microsite editing software you were planning to use turned out to be beyond your budget. Check resource availability and, where these need to be acquired, research and specify cost.

With that in mind, make clear what the overall budget will be.

A communication and training plan

Changing business processes, even in small teams, can require a surprising amount of coordination and preparation. 

Project owners need to have a communications plan ready to brief those on the front lines about why this change is being undertaken and how it will be coordinated.

An inclusive approach is needed here so that everybody from the graphics designer to the copywriter understand the importance of their work and feels part of a broader effort to increase the efficiency of the sales unit and the business as a whole. 

The project owner should be prepared to dedicate sufficient time to bringing team members up to speed on any new systems, such as the microsite platform from our example scenario. 

This includes making sure that they know how to carry out all necessary functions, such as building and updating sites independently.

Building on this, helping stakeholders to understand at least the basics of the roles and responsibilities of their colleagues is another important step that can prevent headaches down the road.

Milestones and a due date

Good projects need a completion date by which work should be finished. 

Additionally, milestones are vital for breaking down the larger business transformation into a series of more manageable steps that allow the team to stay oriented and build confidence as they progress.

Returning to our example, a microsite transition plan might consider:

  • The due date: This is the date by which the transformation should have been completed and all sales or pursuits team members should have been brought up to speed on what’s required to successfully pitch using microsites. 
  • Milestones: The first milestone could be the date upon which key templates have been migrated from current systems onto the microsite provider. The second milestone could be when a dual legacy-microsite approach is begun. The final milestone could be the date when all sales proposals now need to be sent out through the microsite system. 

Example: improving sales proposal work with microsites

Business transformation plans are powerful tools for pursuits teams aiming to improve how they work and boost sales. We’ve touched on this above a couple of times, but this section considers the example in more detail.

A business transformation plan focused on the delivery of content produces a sales content strategy

Why the example of improving sales proposals with microsites? 

First, it’s what we know. Zoomforth has helped numerous businesses, large and small (but mostly large) make the switch from PDFs to microsites.

Second, moving from a sales proposal creation and delivery process that pumps out static documents to one delivering impactful and content rich digital proposal microsites requires changes that need to be planned for, making for an excellent illustration of how to develop an effective business transformation plan.

Why is a business transformation plan necessary in this case?

Companies with dedicated sales teams may spend a good part of their workweek interacting with prospects and preparing and sending static documents such as PDFs and Powerpoints for prospective clients. It’s unrealistic to think that team members will be prepared to switch over to a new way of doing things without a proper transition plan in place.

Making the changeover, however, is certainly worthwhile. Relative to static documents, Zoomforth microsites have several noteworthy advantages. These include:

  • You can’t change a PDF once you’ve sent it. But a microsite can be updated continually.
  • Microsites can provide a far more immersive context experience than could be achieved by sending with a static document. How many printed documents allow for embedded video?
  • Fast iteration, at scale. Microsites can be easily cloned and edited. Hence, they’re great for small teams that need to bid on a large number and variety of projects.
  • Easy navigation. A big PDF is read end to end, but a microsite with well designed navigation can make it easy for recipients with different roles to jump to the parts of the sales proposal that are of most of interest to them. 

Notice that while these are advantages, each point involves a different kind of work. For example, the rich content such as video enabled by microsites means that the production process must be adapted to source or create video assets.

As a result, a business transformation plan is necessary to keep track of and manage these various changes.

Make change easier

Whether the transformation is being undertaken to catch-up to competition or to get ahead, a formal plan will ensure the best chance that the transformation will be a successful and long lasting one. 

As we’ve seen, microsite-based sales proposals confer significant advantages relative to static documents. However, the production process can be complex — making the transition to a new workflow isn’t usually as easy as just signing up for a software service.

To make the move towards microsite-based bidding as easy as possible, develop a proper business transformation plan. Start directing change deliberately today.