Using crises as opportunities

Many companies want to become more efficient through business transformations in times of crisis and secure their future viability. However, there are a few points to consider so that the measures have an effect. 

In business, in particular, issues such as resilience, efficiency, cost savings, and independence from other influencing factors have assumed particular importance. In response to this, companies must now identify intelligent solutions and initiate successful transformations in various business areas in order to adapt to new situations as well as remain relevant and competitive in the future.  

Many companies have already changed their orientation and formulated sustainable plans in the scope of business transformation. At its core, this always involves a fundamental and holistic change of systems, processes, people, and technologies within a company or a business unit.  

Transformations typically encompass many individual projects, each of which focuses on a single process, system, technology, team, or department. The first step, therefore, is to develop a comprehensive strategy. This in turn requires an overarching project portfolio management to control the individual projects.

Four steps from theory to practice

Currently, more and more companies are moving from the strategic level to implementation to positively impact their business. However, the path from theory to practice is not necessarily easy. After all, what changes should companies make at the process level in order to best respond to new or suddenly increased requirements in their environment? How can they reorient themselves while simultaneously combining short-term changes with sustainably developed strategies? And finally, how can these strategies be put into practice? This is where otherwise well-conceived initiatives often fail: They either get bogged down by the daily workflow or do not lead to the desired result.  

Based on learnings and best practices from many successful business transformations, four central starting points can be identified that companies should consider:  


Companies should first identify the specific topics and areas that are top priorities for them. These may be, for example, higher agility or resilience in the areas of supply chains, raw material supply, or resource planning. Possible solutions would then include, for example, closed material cycles, an efficient use of materials and energy, or relocalization. Other reasons for business transformation may include outdated products or services, changes in sources of financing or revenue streams, new regulations, or more intense competition. Experience shows that in any case, approaches for greater sustainability should play a central strategic role, as otherwise companies will not only lose important customers in the long run, but also employees. 


Here, the important thing is to define specific goals for the transformation of the organization and the stages of this transformation. These may include flat hierarchies, fast feedback loops and lean approval processes, but also mergers and acquisitions or carve-outs. Particularly in the case of M&A and carve-outs, it is highly relevant for companies to ask themselves how they can manage and support these major projects and where they can serve as a catalyst for transformation. The methodological approaches COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) for IT governance and management or OKR (Objectives & Key Results) for the definition and realization of measurable goals can be used here. In addition, digital solutions for project management and project portfolio management should be defined in the scope of agile transformation, and the role of the CIO should be clarified.  


Employees and managers require expert guidance and support during the business transformation process. It is therefore essential to make people the focus of the process and to take targeted steps to optimize the employee experience. Citizen development solutions also enable the independent automation of processes. Managers are given the tools they need to deal with the transformation. Corresponding New Work approaches must also take frontline workers in production, in the warehouse, or with direct customer contact into account. For example, a determination should be made of how their day-to-day work can become more efficient through process digitalization and automation. In addition, companies should connect processes and locations using state-of-the-art cloud-based collaboration applications in order to successfully implement a hybrid work culture. 


Companies must not suffice themselves with a mere internal point of view but must also consider the impact of business transformation on their customers. For example, they should determine how customers’ needs are changing. A modern customer journey can help to determine the current expectations of the customer base. This extends all the way to changes in the products and the services offered. Innovations must then be addressed and explained to customers in such a way that they understand them as a factual advantage and added value.    


The success of a business transformation largely depends on the fact that the measures need to be effective at the appropriate points in the company. For this purpose, a customized and targeted strategy is needed, and areas such as organization, work and customers must be thoroughly investigated. With the tried-and-tested know-how of an experienced partner, the transformation can be driven forward in an agile and strategically targeted manner until it takes valuable effect in the concrete business processes. 


Christoph Gudernatsch

Senior Manager | Head of Implementation and PM Strategy

Tihomir Duvnjak

Manager Portfolio, Program & Project Management