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The Importance of Change Management in a Document Management Implementation

Implementing change across an entire organization is never easy. That’s especially true when rolling out a new document management solution. Successful implementation means taking a thoughtful, multi-faceted approach that addresses the people, processes, and technology involved.

If your new document management solution is going to be a success, it’s critical to have buy-in from your entire organization—from the C-suite to the front-line staff. Understanding their needs, concerns, and tolerance for change is key to making the solution work. With the right approach to managing change, your end users won’t just accept the implementation—they’ll be supportive and enthusiastic about adopting it.

Why do document management solutions fail?
The biggest reason document management solutions fail is a lack of communication, so the first step toward creating effective document management habits is communicating clearly and often. Talk with your team early in the process about why the change is happening, what’s coming next, and how they can expect to benefit. Make communication friendly and personal so end users feel like they have a stake in the process.

Failure to communicate early and often about a new document management solution can cause apprehension among your staff. If they don’t understand what’s happening, why, how, and when, they’ll be reluctant to change their habits and adopt the new solution, which can jeopardize the entire process—not to mention the investment by your company.

Why is change management so important?
People are creatures of habit, and tend to avoid change whenever they can. That makes effective change management difficult—but without it, your new solution will struggle to succeed.

Change management has little to do with the documents and everything to do with the end user. Not all of your end users will have an equal tolerance for change. By conducting a discovery phase, you can gauge that tolerance and get an idea of how best to communicate about the solution. It’ll also give your employees a voice in the process, which will create buy-in when it’s time to implement your solution. Just as important, it’ll help you make a plan that’s tailored to end users’ specific needs.  

What are some effective change management tactics?
Find the Right Solution
Make sure the right team is working on your document management solution from the beginning. That means representing every department, getting full buy-in from every team member, and making sure the team has detailed knowledge about individual employee needs.

Keep in mind that the right document management solution will work intuitively with your organization’s setup enabling each employee’s independence in the solution. If you’ve set up the right solution, you’ll be able to show end users how the change directly benefits them and make it more efficient to complete daily responsibilities.

Follow Your Change Management Protocol
Some companies already have a strong change management protocol in place. That makes choosing tactics easier, because you should already have a good feeling about what works for your employees and what doesn’t. But even if you don’t have a proven change management protocol, it’s all about meeting your employees where they are—not telling them where they need to be.

Combine Tactics
Since each employee works differently, choose tactics that work with a multitude of learning styles. You’ll want to account for potential issues such as employees who work remotely or employees who have schedules that don’t permit long training sessions.

Ideally, your change management strategy will include a combination of:

  • Video training/recorded presentations that can be watched (or re-watched) on demand
  • Live presentations (lunch-and-learns, PowerPoints, demos, etc.)
  • Q & A sessions
  • Department-specific meetings
  • Email communication campaigns
  • Collateral materials (informational packets, fliers for bulletin boards, etc.)
  • In-person training as necessary

And when it comes to communication, make sure to:

  • Use familiar examples when talking about how employees’ lives will change
  • Be specific when talking about the “why” behind solution decisions
  • Communicate key talking points to leaders throughout your organization to help them become champions of the solution
  • Be open to feedback from employees at every level of the organization throughout the entire process

Put It All Together
The goal of using all of these tactics is to inspire unity and confidence in the solution, make it easy to understand, and make sure there are no surprises for your employees down the road. Also, if you can get good buy-in from the majority of your staff, they can help train and motivate the whole team.

How can KSMC help my organization manage change and implement a new document management solution?
When choosing a new document management solution, it’s useful to have an objective partner that can help create the lasting change necessary to make the project a success. We understand that organizational change is always difficult, and that implementing new solutions requires a lot more effort than simply training employees. We also know that change is successful when planning, discovery, and implementation all come together to benefit the end user. And we can show you how to effectively use a wide range of training, awareness, and rollout tactics so that nobody in your organization gets left behind.

If your organization needs assistance with a new document management solution and managing the change that comes along with it, we’re here to help. We also offer lots of other business consulting services for many industries that can help your organization reach new levels of success. Contact us today to learn more.


About the Author
Ellen Hooley is the document management team lead at KSM Consulting. In this role, she assists clients with the discovery, implementation, and successful adoption of document management solutions. Connect on LinkedIn.