When you work with a Target Operating Model consultancy, you’ll rightly expect them to set you up for success, whether you’re looking for cost efficiencies, customer growth or improved performance.

The consultants are there to help you move from your current ‘as-is’ position to a future ‘to-be’ state as efficiently as possible, so they will need clarity regarding where you are and where you want to be.

The most successful projects always start with a thorough brief. Your consultants will want to get under the skin of your organisation, so they are clear about how they can advise and support you effectively. They will expect insight into where the organisation currently is in its TOM journey, clarity on who is responsible for what and an understanding of the guiding vision for the transformation.

Different TOM consultancies will have different approaches.

These are the five questions we would always ask in any TOM kick-off meeting, and we’d expect the same from any other professional consultancy.

1. What is your organisation’s strategy?

This question is vital because the Target Operating Model needs to be led by the strategy. Note, we define the Operating Model as how (using people, processes and technology) the business delivers value described by the strategy.

The strategy must be clear from the start of the project – although your consultant will be well-equipped to help you carve out the strategy if support is required.

2. What are the challenges the organisation faces today?

Before you can start planning the future state, you and your consultancy need a shared understanding of the current state.

Explain the structure, business processes, systems, behaviours and culture.

  • What works well?
  • What are the challenges?
  • What are the processes to protect?
  • What are the system’s constraints?
  • How do people interact?

We always recommend taking a data-driven approach to this. 

Give the consultancy access to teams at all levels of the organisation – how do the different groups critique the current state? Involve your people in the journey, and they will be more invested in the change.

The consultancy will also support you in making sure there is a deep understanding from a customer perspective and clarity on what the customers want.

Once there is a clear picture of the as-is, your consultancy can measure the to-be against this and map the changes that need to happen.

3. Who are the critical project stakeholders and what are their accountabilities?

To manage the transformation well, your consultancy needs to know who should be involved and what they are responsible for. Agree and document what the consultancy is accountable for and what your organisation will do. Agreement in advance sets expectations and avoids potential disagreement later.

Help the consultants to understand your stakeholders – explain their power or influence in the organisation. Share details of the informal alliances and fiefdoms that won’t be found in any documents but will cause issues down the line. Which individuals are engaged and on board, and who could derail progress? Allow your consultancy time to consider what actions need to be taken to mitigate this.

4. What are the design principles to which we need to align the design? 

Before your consultant gets into detailed design work, let them know if clearly defined design principles are already in place or if these need to be determined. These principles should articulate the desired end-state, and they will guide and inform the organisation design.

The principles also help to ensure everyone is clear and supportive of every area of the detailed design. You can collectively use the principles as a framework to evaluate alternative structures and how well they meet the design principles, helping with decision making.

5. How do your people feel about the change?

The success of your project depends on the backing of the people. So your consultant will expect to spend time understanding where different people and groups are in the change journey. Any data you can share will only make this faster and more accurate.

Your consultancy will support you in developing a ‘case for change’ and building a compelling narrative to gain support from your stakeholders. Make sure you’re in a position to explain the shared vision and what success will feel like for everyone.

Within the project plan, expect a clear communication plan that addresses the different audiences, and clarifies the messages and communication channels.

Providing your consultancy with clear and comprehensive answers to these questions will put them in a better position to define your target operating model and implement the changes.

Questions like these give clarity to all from the outset, enabling the TOM to work in practice, to be adopted by all, and deliver the desired results.

Prepare your answers in advance to save time and money, and to make sure your project gets off to a great start. 

Charlotte Gatehouse