Data-driven ladder

How Rolls-Royce uses behavioural science to manage digital change

PL Staff

Managing change from a people perspective is one of the most critical aspects to get right when rolling out digital transformation projects. Regardless of how sophisticated or cutting edge a new technology tool is, it will fail to make the desired impact if its intended users – whether staff or suppliers – are not engaged.

This challenge was firmly in the mind of David Loseby, who joined Rolls-Royce as Group CPO (Director of procurement) in early 2020. The aerospace engineering company had previously rolled out an earlier digital purchasing system that had to be paused and amended soon after launch as it struggled to gain enough traction amongst users.

With a background in behavioural science, Loseby recognised the need to be mindful of employees’ “cognitive load” – essentially their mental capacity to process new information and adopt new practices – especially as this had come under strain in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and other challenges.

As the procurement function prepared to launch another new digital system from Ivalua, Loseby was determined to take a different approach that would encourage members of staff to learn how to use this effectively and ultimately be more engaged.

How did they do it?

The solution that Loseby and the team devised included a number of key components:

In-instance training
Rather than focusing on slide-based classroom training or webinars, Rolls-Royce chose to build the training into the system itself. Users can access “in-instance” tutorials, developed by third party providers, directly from the pages they need to use, viewing these on a split screen through a service provided by Applearn and Adopt, respectively, at the same time as they are performing their tasks.

Recognition system and accreditation
Loseby and his team worked with Ivalua and external parties including Fluxym, Capgemini and Accenture to build into the platform a points-based system that would allow users to work their way up through the ranks to be recognised as having mastered its tools. Drawing on a similar approach to that used by travel reviews site TripAdvisor, this included the following features:

  • Badges awarded to each user once they have completed a certain number of tasks, such as a request for proposal or updating a pricing table
  • A progression system that allows them to obtain differentiated badges the more of these tasks they complete – including “sourcing officer”, “supplier officer”, “contracts officer” and “analytics officer”, for instance
  • Behavioural “nudges” to encourage users to continue working towards the badges, informing them when they are a few actions short of achieving the next level

Those who successfully master all of the components are able to obtain a formal certification that will be recognised externally by the Ivalua Academy. Staff are encouraged to use these badges in their email signatures, to showcase their success.

Was it a success?

Yes. By making its training relevant and accessible and offering employees the chance to gain recognition and an independent certification, Rolls-Royce was able to boost engagement with its new platform and therefore overcome the challenges it previously faced with managing change during digitalisation. This delivered strong results including:

  • Underspending the original CAPEX and implementation cost budgets
  • Delivering more than 3x the original benefits case in less than one year
  • Gaining recognition for the successful approach at board level

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