dFakto asked Guido Dauchy, former Head of Transformation at BNP Paribas Fortis, to share his experiences of working with dFakto on the transformation plans at BNP Paribas Fortis. BNP Paribas Fortis is a long-term client of dFakto and we have been fortunate to work with them even before the transformation plans of 2012 were announced. In short, dFakto has been instrumental in keeping senior executives abreast of what was really going on with the programme, and this on an almost daily basis. For as Guido explains, every company needs as much help as they can get.

Starting in June 2012, the “Simple & Efficient” initiative launched with two objectives:

Simplify the Group, particularly after several successful integrations and several years of growth
Improve efficiency, in light of an accelerated regulatory pressure and an uncertain economic environment
The reality is most transformation projects are not successful; indeed the probability of delivering as expected is low (~30%). When you look at the numbers in detail, about 70% of failures are due to poor execution rather than poor strategy.

In Guido’s opinion, two aspects contribute to this: the first is a lack of commitment to deliver by the management, and secondly the fact that plans are outlined at a level of detail that is too high and too strategic, and therefore not actionable. He recommends ensuring that governance meetings are fed with “valuable, fresh, frequent & qualitative insights” from the field, and that actuals and forecasts are monitored on a frequent basis. This ensures that there is an automatic measurement of strategic gaps ‘to date’ and ‘at completion’, with as a consequence an ability to follow the evolution of these gaps and converge them.

In 2012, BNP Paribas launched the Simple & Efficient transformation project: the aim was to generate some 2 billion € of savings by 2016. Now, five years later, not only has the programme more than reached its initial objective, but has exceeded the target by creating savings of 3.3 billion €, an increase of 65% over the initial objective. What happened? How did this happen?

with Guido Dauchy, former Head of Transformation at BNP Paribas Fortis, 20th April 2017

Four key success factors

Four key success factors were identified: an evolving governance, a centralised budget, a simple transversal methodology and a dedicated resources team.

It is important to have governance that can evolve. At BNP Paribas, the governance changed according to the phase and stage of the programme. Initially, the executive committee oversaw the planning of the work, while the heads of different business units worked on the plan. The former gave support to the latter who then had the responsibility of monitoring what actually happened in the field. This ensured that the top management has the right information in the right format as soon as possible, and as directly as possible.

The fact is, however, it’s not always easy in big organisations to have the right information at the right time. This is why there is the need for an incentive. This is where the centralised budget came to play an essential role because by funding specific projects, you trigger the feedback you need for those projects. We speak here of a certain kind of mutual agreement between the steering committee and the heads of business units.

Note though it’s important to remember that top management should not be made to play the role of the police, and that their role is making sure that whatever projects have been promised are also executed. Furthermore, it was important that reporting be as simple as possible: with only the details that are relevant, and including whether or not the business unit was sure to reach the objectives of the overall programme.

A third condition to ensure success in any transformation is using the right methodology. The reality is that in big organisations, you don’t have the time to convince people to be part of something. You therefore have to create a dynamic to make sure that the organisation starts to work within the thinking of the programme from the very beginning. In the case of BNP Paribas, this methodology was based on 3 phases. Initially, of course, the overall goal had to be defined. Once this was agreed to, the 1st phase was a top-down overview plan that included all the potential savings for each business, function and territory. The goal of this phase was to decide what kind of initiatives could be taken to reach the overall objectives, in other words, pinpoint the savings that could be delivered and at what cost. Ideally this phase should last only about 6 to 8 weeks. The recommendation is not to take too much time. Make it easy for those that are doing the job and because transformation is not the normal job of the people, give them the support they need.  The 2nd phase consisted of implementing the ideas from phase 1. More people are involved in this phase, indeed it’s where you bring people in who are capable of turning the initiatives into projects.

At BNP Paribas, it required 12 weeks to translate everything into project programmes. The reality is that you have to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing and when you’re doing it, otherwise the initiatives simply won’t move forward. Also you shouldn’t allow initiatives outside the scope of the plan. Finally the last phase is the implementation phase. This phase is longer compared to phase 1 & 2.  It’s in phase 3 that you’ll make the changes in the governance.

The last key success factor we identified in the BNP Paribas case is the necessity of having a dedicated team. The beating heart of the programme, they are the people who bring everything together: managing the programme, giving information to the governance, and presenting possible solutions. They were also the people that made sure that decisions were acted upon on the ground.

These 4 factors at BNP Paribas helped the company exceed the initial objectives of 2 billion € of savings, to reach 3.3 billion €. Now projects that exceed their initial objectives represent only a small percentage compared to the ones who only reach their objectives (and even smaller compared to the ones who fail). So how did the programme overreach its objectives?

3 ways to exceed objectives

The first one is the extension capability. It refers to the dynamics created once the phases 1 & 2 of the methodology have started. During these phases, you see lots of question being raised, and many people starting to communicate with each other, indeed all begin to be more and more convinced of the real purpose of the programme. The result is they begin to think in another way. Their mindset changes to be in line with the dynamics of the programme. At that moment it’s important to start a new wave of phase 1 & 2 to generate (more) new ideas and solutions. As a result, people will come up with better and more valuable ideas.

Now if a project fails to deliver for whatever reason, the loss needs to be compensated by a new project or extra effort in another project in order to respect the initial commitment. When we talk about compensation we mean launching another project or improving another project. This compensation capability implies that all parties are fully transparent on the progress of their projects, identifying at the earliest possible moment any potential problems so that it allows them to quickly respond to it and limit the risk of “non-achievement” of the objectives. With transparency and non-judgemental communications it’s possible to admit that a project will deliver less than expected. And experience showed us that people always find compensation elsewhere because they don’t want to show failure before the executive committee!

A transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It occurs in a world that is changing and disruptive. This is why a dedicated team is essential. In this way you can be certain of continuous transformation within the company, as if you don’t adapt, you’ll disappear.

At dFakto, the way we see transformation involving different things. First, we encourage pro-active management. We believe that if you can identify issues before they have an impact, it’s easier to resolve them (hence the real value of supplying valuable, fresh, frequent & qualitative insights). When people realise they won’t succeed on their part of the programme, they will report it, and by doing so avoid negative figures in the results. Furthermore, if you can identify what’s wrong as early as possible there is a strong incentive to finding ways to solve the problems, and deliver.

In short, as Guido says,

“We have a more organic approach to transformation. We see it as a living organism. It’s something reactive: you can do something, or you can do something different. We used to plan, execute, and then give feedback. Today, we don’t have this ‘only’ linear approach to transformation. We see it, thanks to dFakto data, as something much more cyclical, and that includes a higher reporting frequency, and consequently a high-planning frequency.”


Transformation has become a necessity in business rather than a nice to have, indeed those businesses not thinking about it in one form or another, are really just sticking their heads in the sand.

Research by the consulting company McKinsey confirms that only 26% of executives say their companies’ transformations have been very or completely successful at both improving performance and equipping the organization to sustain improvements over time. According to the research, no single action explained the difference in success rate; however one thing was clear: the more change actions an organization undertook, the higher the likelihood that they would succeed in their transformation. The research also suggested that practices include communicating effectively, leading actively, empowering employees, and creating an environment of continuous improvement were contributing factors.

16 years of transformation experience

Over the last 16 years, dFakto has gained a lot of experience about what makes a successful transformation and is happy to share some insights. A good plan is obviously a good place to start of course, and our business consultants, who’ve seen a few transformation initiatives in their lifetime, are well placed to give an opinion on the quality of the plan.

It’s usually pretty easy to spot the companies and organisations that are the most likely to succeed, as they all tend to have a clearer view on their future. Realistic answers to a couple of pertinent questions quickly tend to sort out the men from the boys, as it were.

What is the objective of your transformation? How long have you given for it to happen? – Have you got a team dedicated to the project or are they combining other functions? – Are they experienced? – Who is the sponsor of this transformation? – What level are they at? Board of Directors? Management? Head of department? – What funds have been devoted? Is this Capex or Opex? – How will progress be monitored? – How will management be informed of the progress?

It is on these last 2 questions that dFakto is particularly able to advise and help. Too often the focus is just on the ‘actual’ expenditure, thereby only looking backwards, when an eye on both current and future investments is required. It’s a tough nut to crack, and is especially so as the ‘target’ is a moving one … companies tend to start out by thinking they need to be at place A but quickly have to be planning ahead as to how they can arrive at places B and C. There is no doubt that the issue is even tougher when the company in question has no idea as to their progression and how they are doing.

Numbers are not enough

Experience has taught us at dFakto that the numbers are not quite enough, and that a combination of qualitative and quantitative data is required to know where you are, how you are progressing and how much still has to be completed. Of course, financial expenditure and planned investment information is collected and verified, but so too is how people feel about how they are progressing.

The raw data to be collected can be made available in many different forms including project management software, text files, information on websites, SAP databases etc. Once sourced, it is checked, and presented in such a way that the CEO and/or the board can quickly and easily get answers to their questions. This dashboard can be updated in just a few clicks as the numbers are automatically and directly sourced from the client’s system. Consolidation is made quickly meaning that it is easy to play the ‘what if’ game, as in what would be the impact of adding this or that plan for example.

The naked truth

dFakto gives management the reassurance that the data they are looking at is reliable and has been cross-checked, and that the data being presented is the same as that being used all around the company… in other words, “one single version of the truth” with no trickery, no reworking or manipulation of the figures.

The automation of this data collection across the organisation means that the PMO and team can spend more time thinking about the issues and much less time simply organising the collect and verification of data. It means more time can be invested anticipating the next moves in the plan, and on the change management required.

A bonus is that there is no agenda behind the figures as they are what they are, and accepted as such: facts and figures. The happy by-product of this is any discussions for change are non-confrontational making it easier to identify, discuss and rectify the bottlenecks in the transformation.

Change and transformation is painful by definition, but it’s a lot easier than having to make big decisions in a hurry. All the more reason why it’s nice to know where you’re at, where you are going and when you should get there.

Obviously, this doesn’t meant that your plan should be as static as figures can be. Linearity can be the reason for its failure. When implementing a transformation plan, a special attention should be paid to the “non-linearity” of it.

Any transformation plan must allow some flexibility to be able to be quickly modified in order to reduce the damages if one does note that a bad idea is being implemented. On the other hand if one does notice that the plan overdelivers, the plan should be flexible enough to overcome initial expectations. This “non-linear” approach has many consequences: ideas can be tested out and resources can be allocated much faster if needed.

In conclusion

With continuous improvement now becoming a core competency of managers in business today, it is obviously important they stay on top of what is happening in their organization. With dFakto’s help they can understand what’s happening and make the necessary transformations thereby ensuring their business is sustainable and fighting fit for the future.

You want to learn more about Transformation?

dFakto is organizing a workshop with the goal to review and discuss the main issues that need to be tackled when it comes to Transformation. For more info please contact JOANA SCHMITZ jsc@dfakto.com or +32(0)

First of all, we would like to state that we are very proud that our “T360 solution” has functionalities that are completely in line with the expectations and trends for 2017! A point that recently got validated twice, first in Forbes and afterward by Alexandra Levit, currently a writer for the NY Times mentioning dFakto’s achievements in VR and 3D-printing on QuickBase as the number 1 trend in project Management Developments for 2017.

3D Printing and Virtual Reality for project management?

Many projects today take place in the cloud and via distributed teams, which can make it difficult for team members to feel fully immersed in their work experiences. Virtual reality and 3D printing technology reinvigorate the project lifecycle so that tasks and collaboration efforts resonate more strongly.

As stated by our CEO Thibaut de Vylder during the interview for the article in forbes: “We created a UX experience in project management that allows people to update their project status in 30 seconds or less each month just by focusing on what’s most important.”

The virtual reality experience provides full immersion with an app that allows Project Managers to see progress charts in a personal theatre style. Focus your eyes on a particular chart, and it grows. You can dive into elaborations the same way. The 3D printing component, similarly, facilitates the sense of touch. It creates something you can put on your desk, unlike a digital report that you can’t see once you close it.

What we believe

We definitively believe that these technologies reduce the information gap by providing the information and insights the way that people expect it. Not only do future data-driven platforms need to be open, modular and techno-agnostic but they also need to deliver value to the stakeholders.

We strongly believe that the following principles are the key to success driven results.

  • Open: to any useful technology that provides value.
  • Modular: the considered technology must integrate smoothly and can be replaced on demand.
  • Techno-agnostic: no religion. Just cost effectiveness!

Take a look here if you want to know more about T360.