A winning game

The AFL team undertook a detailed procurement and discovery process to help them select the right fit-for-purpose solution and implementation partner. The project was commenced and completed in the same year. And Fusion5 and the new Dynamics 365 ERP delivered what was promised; increased productivity and efficiency within the AFL and the twelve clubs it provides with shared services.

Critically, the new technology supports the exceptional growth the AFL and its clubs have experienced in recent times and allows the organisation to focus more on reporting and analytics rather than managing back-end processes.

Hands holding Australian football up to the sky Hands holding Australian football up to the sky

"Fusion5’s OCM support and guidance throughout the project was invaluable. They ensured that our change management piece was well planned and thought through from the outset. And it gave me the support of an experienced change manager to complement my skills, learn from, bounce ideas off, and validate strategies with.”

AFL Change Manager

Taking the whole team on the DX journey

A successful technology project relies in equal parts on the technology itself, people, processes, and strategy. Numerous studies highlight that technology transformation projects are more likely to fail because of a poor change management strategy rather than technology failures. Companies typically underestimate the impact of the change on their people and processes.

The AFL were determined to achieve a successful transformation. Due to the complexity of a project which included multiple stakeholders using unique systems across 17 entities, it was imperative to minimise the disconnect between its new financial system and people to realise a positive ROI. With this in mind, the AFL decided to invest in OCM as an integral part of the implementation.

As the AFL didn't have available internal resources on hand, they engaged an external change manager for the project's duration. The change manager was contracted to the AFL for three days a week and charged with taking all system users — at head office and club level — on the journey from using disparate systems and processes to working the same way on a single solution.

Although an experienced finance professional and veteran of several technology projects, the AFL transformation was the change manager’s first change management project. To help support her through the project, the AFL asked Fusion5's OCM Practice to provide guided change management support, utilising our experienced resources and proprietary change management methodology and templates.

Leave no-one behind

Fusion5 worked closely with the AFL to ensure project success on two fronts; making sure that Dynamics 365 fulfilled all the AFL’s business requirements and ensuring that every user understood the benefits the system delivered.

Fusion5 supported the change manager throughout the project — from guiding her through best practice gap analysis for every club (Fusion5 sat in on the first two meetings, and the change manager conducted the remainder), to co-creating a 'people' change plan that aligned to the 'technical' implementation plan. With Fusion5’s support and oversight the change manager identified all stakeholders, documented potential roadblocks to change, and planned strategies to smooth the path to digital transformation.

Club challenges

With most of the AFL's clubs running independent financial systems, it was critical to understand and define the needs of each.

"I think OCM was so important to the AFL because its stakeholder group was so broad. It ranged from senior AFL execs to day-to-day club administrators. We split the clubs into three like-with-like groups and ran weekly meetings with each, including the AFL project manager and lead subject matter expert. We reported on the week's progress during each meeting and provided attendees with the opportunity to ask questions."

AFL Change Manager

Throughout the initial stages of the project, Fusion5's OCM resource and the change manager met weekly to review progress. In addition, meetings with the AFL’s key IT and finance stakeholders were held fortnightly. Naturally, as the go-live date approached, the meetings increased in frequency.

As part of the OCM, the change manager ran satisfaction surveys, to which she received consistently positive feedback about the level of support provided to each club. She also maintained a detailed tracking list to measure KPIs (from adoption to implementation progress), identify issues, and offer more help when a club was struggling.

Communications and champions

Players competing for Australian football

The change manager says that despite her expectation of some pushback from certain stakeholders, sharing regular, targeted and strategic OCM communications eased the change process. Following the communications plan, the AFL Project Sponsor communicated with senior executives and the change manager with all other stakeholders, so no one was left out of the information loop.

The change manager also appointed forty carefully selected and trained 'change champions' from across the business, who were embedded within the AFL to help deflect the day-to-day queries from an already busy finance team. The change manager encouraged the clubs to follow suit, however their finance teams were generally the change champions due to organisational size.

Whenever any technical issues impacted the clubs (for example, integration), the change manager was careful to communicate directly with the impacted stakeholders to explain what was happening and why, or why not. This proactive approach defused any potential pushback and disappointment.

A positive transition

Such was the change manager’s level of success with engaging the AFL stakeholders using the change plan that, despite the club's initial anxiety about go-live, transitioning users to Dynamics 365 was relatively painless and the uptake positive.

To make sure that the momentum continued after the big day, Fusion5 and the change manager doubled down on OCM activities with a hyper-care support programme for the two weeks post-go-live. This reinforced the use of Dynamics 365 in the AFL, and made sure that people didn't backslide and revert to old, familiar manual processes.

Meeting and exceeding expectations

"Fusion5’s OCM support and guidance throughout the project was invaluable. They ensured that our change management piece was well planned and thought through from the outset. And it gave me the support of an experienced change manager to complement my skills, learn from, bounce ideas off, and validate strategies with.”

The change manager says the Fusion5 team were very approachable and great to work with. “They had a great attitude and were easily accessible throughout the project. They actively listened to feedback and rectified any issues quickly and collaboratively.

“The decision to use Fusion5 for OCM paid off, offering a well-seasoned implementation approach backed by significant OCM expertise to support our internal capabilities. The project went incredibly well, particularly considering the tight delivery timeframes. Our in-house project team worked closely with Fusion5, ensuring that any issues were identified early on, communicated to stakeholders, and remedied promptly.

“I’d recommend Fusion5’s OCM service to others. They helped to ensure the project went smoothly from a people and comms perspective. Embracing OCM made a huge difference to the AFL project. I don’t think it would have gone as well had there not been that focused consideration of the impact on the stakeholders and a plan to communicate with them.”

“Due to the success of the Dynamics 365 implementation and its high level of acceptance, the AFL is committed to using a change manager to support future projects.” And as the AFL take the next step in their DX journey, (implementing Workday Adaptive with Fusion5) there’s already a Fusion5 OCM consultant by their side, ready to smooth the path to success.

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