Holistic transformation of the finance organization

Targeted change management as a success factor

A successful international energy company headquartered in Switzerland was faced with the challenge of redesigning its finance organization within a short time frame and adapting it to current challenges – while keeping the employees fully on board. To ensure that the transformation was successful, the company opted for a targeted change management strategy, which Horváth supported with a proven approach.


For many CFOs, redesigning the finance organization is a top priority to support the company's strategic business goals. This was also the case for the CFO of an energy company, who found himself confronted with both an uncertain political situation and general economic instability, not least due to the energy crisis. The CFO reacted quickly and adapted both the financial strategy and the finance organization. 

A preliminary analysis (figures, data, facts) of the finance organization revealed that optimization of the finance processes was necessary to increase the quality of its reporting and planning processes. The organizational structures, roles and responsibilities also needed to be adjusted accordingly. For this reason, a holistic transformation program was initiated with the support of Horváth. This included organizational and behavioral change goals, which were to achieve via structured change management. But what does all this mean in specific terms? 

The top priority was to achieve the transformation goals without "losing" employees along the way. The first step, therefore, was to assess with the employees and divisional managers what had caused previous attempts to make changes to the strategy and vision, culture, processes and structures to fail. Consequently, and with input from Horváth, the decision was taken that, regarding the goals of the upcoming reorganization, one area of focus should be the management team (focus: change leadership). Similarly, the team also decided to support behavioral changes through "co-creation" and a "bottom-up approach". In addition, an "Integrated Change Office" would be established for the transformation. 


The main challenge lay in ensuring that, despite the upcoming changes, the management team would be perceived as a visible leadership coalition ("walk the talk"). Therefore, the decision maker had to pursue a common shared transformation vision and strategy (“one voice”) to be seen as authentic representatives of the transformation goal. Thus, the first step was to develop a common understanding of the financial vision and strategy and the corresponding change story. The vision and the change story formed the "guiding star" for the remainder of the process – in terms of developing the approach, defining the milestones for the reorganization, and as the basis for all further activities.

To build a leadership coalition, an INSIGHTS MDI personality test and a team SWOT analysis were conducted, and a value wheel with corresponding activities was developed. This enabled the members of the management team to get to know each other better and both understand and categorize their colleagues' motivations and viewpoints. They also developed an actual and target state for their teams and defined the corresponding leadership values. Further activities and concrete measures were then derived, the goal being to transfer them into the employees' daily work routines by “walking the talk”. The Change Leadership sessions, which encouraged individuals to reflect on their own leadership style and professional development needs, also proved their worth. They helped to ensure that the managers coached and supported their employees during the transformation as change leaders, while also focusing on their own professional development in line with the vision, strategy and change goals. 


Besides the executives, the directly affected target groups were also involved in formulating the change goals and the change story, and in the analysis of the stakeholders and the impact of the changes. In addition, to ensure the employees' commitment, the relevant teams were directly involved in defining the corresponding change measures. This "co-creation" approach fostered inherent change, which resulted, for example, in the establishment of a Finance Community on the initiative of the employees. This community contributed in a "bottom-up" manner to the development and anchoring of the new finance organization and the corresponding cultural changes. The Finance Community employees have already succeeded in proactively implementing various initiatives. For example, the quarterly town hall meeting, at which members of the management team answer employees' questions, was relaunched. Regular "lessons learned" were set up in various project and management teams, and walk-in sessions were introduced with the HR business partner, giving employees the opportunity to discuss any concerns in person.


A central component of Horváth's approach to transformation is not only the inclusion of the affected individuals, but also the integration of project and change management to allow holistic control of the transformation project. Via this approach, behavioral changes and corresponding measures are aligned with the structural, procedural, and technical changes. Likewise, challenges and risks are identified ahead of time and the achievement of objectives is proactively measured and managed from both a professional and behavioral perspective.

The Integrated Change Office was a core element of the project architecture and was directly attached to the project management team. This ensured close collaboration, coordination and effective management of the respective financial / functional and behavioral topics. Hence, the reorganization targets were defined jointly with the CFO and his finance management team. Consequently, the project plan was also set up accordingly and the behavioral change measures were integrated into the functional reorganization activities. Among other things, this made it possible to holistically manage the achievement of project milestones and the occurrence of risks. The achievement of the milestones and change targets was measured on an ongoing basis for example by conducting pulse checks. The Finance Community for example then used the results to derive measures / initiatives to anchor the new finance organization. This also fostered the described inherent change.


We would be delighted to support you in transforming your finance organization in line with the Horváth People & Organization approach – and to discuss with you the significance of various success factors and challenges for the future of your organization. Feel free to reach out to us and tell us about your ideas.

Muri, L. / Thommen, N.