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Ensuring effective engagement
The ongoing management of the integration was conducted by a Program Management Office (PMO) which was given responsibility for developing the master plan and other tactical applications of the integration process. 7-Eleven Australia identified 16 workstreams representing its key divisions and operations such as fuel, merchandise management, store conversions as well as finance, IT, HR and others. These workstreams were charged with the responsibility for integrating the ‘equivalent’ function in the acquired business.
The PMO developed and provided the tools and support needed to help these workstreams manage their responsibilities and activities as part of the integration process. Tools included planning templates, risk management models, communication processes and others. The PMO also handled all communication, liaising with both the senior steering committees and the action-oriented workstreams. This model allowed for maximum consultation, feedback and support with all communication
channelled through one working group. The PMO also implemented a framework to map dependencies across workstreams so as to ensure that physical, human and other resources would be available when needed to enable timelines to be met.
A key to effective change management is to overcome resistance and ensure stakeholder and employee engagement. One of the company’s key principles for the integration was “Creating one culture and avoiding an ‘us and them’ attitude.” The establishment of the Joint Steering Committee, featuring representatives across both businesses, meant that the decisionmaking processes were transparent and open.
When a business is acquired employees naturally feel threatened. This acquisition required 105 corporate and 1,750 store employees from Mobil Oil Australia and Strasburger Enterprises to be absorbed into the 7-Eleven team. 7-Eleven Australia itself had 450 employees with all stores owned by franchisees. It developed and offered comparable or alternative positions to new staff, conducted appropriate induction programs, converted employment contracts and working arrangements and expanded its corporate headquarters in Glen Waverley to house the new ‘corporate’ employees.
A key change management objective of 7-Eleven Australia was “clarity of decision-making processes”. During the planning phase the workstreams worked with the PMO to develop detailed integration plans. After approval by the steering committee each workstream leader had responsibility for delivering on the plans within timeframes and cost guidelines. This consultative process engaged key employees and franchisees, as well as potential franchisees from the Mobil/Quix stores and supported two-way communication.
The workstreams were as closely aligned as possible across the two businesses with key staff from each responsible for enacting the integration. The workstreams met weekly and determined issues and risks, reported on milestones and tasks and set down key objectives and decisions to be made. Demand for 7-Eleven franchises had outstripped supply so the acquisition provided hundreds of opportunities for both new and existing franchisees. More than half of the converted stores were taken up by existing franchisees and corporate staff and their family members. A small number of Mobil/Quix operators who previously ran their stores as commission agents, and some corporate Store Managers, took up the offer to become 7-Eleven franchisees and underwent a franchisee training program.
7-Eleven Australia had previous experience in managing acquisition-related change when it took over a number of Burmah and BP outlets in the early 2000s. At first they operated a number of co-branded sites because it believed maintaining the familiar fuel brand provided a more credible fuel offer for customers. However, as a trial they converted a handful of these stores completely to the 7-Eleven brand. The company discovered that after these sites were fully converted that although fuel volumes fell initially, merchandise sales grew significantly and overall profitability was enhanced for franchisees. The company applied these lessons to create synergies with this acquisition.