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Employing Thoughtful Change Management

We’ve all seen it play out. An enterprise-wide technology is chosen to solve a business problem. The IT team is tasked with implementing it. They do so with technical excellence – on time even – but people still fight it. Six months later, everyone has gone back to business as usual and is only using part of the technology, or worse, working around it.

Thinking of successful enterprise-wide technology implementations – ones that transform organizational processes with employees adopting and appreciating the technology and its role in their day-to-day – there’s a constant we see:

Consideration and employment of change management as part of the implementation.

Regardless of technology or size/industry of the organization, implementations incorporating change management into their plan fair far better than those where action was taken without consideration of the people and processes in place. Putting people first gives technology the opportunity to take hold in a more productive manner as well as helping to ensure that the solution implemented is the best one. Incorporating the people who will be using the technology into the solutioning, communication, and training leads to adoption, not just implementation.

If you have been considering implementing a new technology in your organization, whether it’s an ERP, CRM, Microsoft Office 365, or building your own application, we recommend starting with a few considerations to incorporate change management into your overall project plan.

What is the underlying motivator to implement the technology?

What does success look like on the other side of migration for you?

What is the desired outcome for the organization, the stakeholders, the end users?

Not only is it imperative for you to thoroughly understand what success will look like, but it is equally important that the entire organization understands the “why” – why the change is set to occur – in addition to the desired outcome. The people involved in the project are just as important, if not more important, as what technology you choose. It is human nature to be a bit resistant of change, and the more that everyone understands the “why”, the more likely they are to maximize the new solution once it is in place. This requires understanding and aligning to the “why” at every level of the organization and consistently communicating it as well.

What are the key components to the change management plan?

While the options for activities to be included in change management are countless, there are two themes to incorporate: Intentional Engagement and Communication.

1. Intentional Engagement

What’s intentional engagement? It’s taking a deliberate look at who the various stakeholders and end users are and involving them throughout the implementation.

Organizations achieve a deeper level of success when they have a cross-functional team that includes end users and subject matter experts from across the organization, as well as a Project Manager, or, likely, a project management team. This teamwork ensures that the project is managed tightly, while across the organization, there is some degree of input and “buy-in” to the changes occurring, which ultimately will result in greater adoption. All of these stakeholders gaining alignment, while sometimes difficult at first, will certainly serve your organization well in the long run.

2. Communication

One false perception is that every employee places the same level of importance on organizational communication and digests information in the same way. It’s easy to forget that while an email update may stick with you, a video may be more impactful to a colleague. Or, an in-person gathering to another. When thinking through how to incorporate communication in your change management plan, considering how employees and teams best receive and share information is important. Then, incorporate multiple avenues for communication to ensure that every employee is effectively reached.

Repetition is another critical component of effective communication – and adoption – success. Consistent and repeated messaging across every level of the team from the executive sponsor through every team member is required for retention. Many studies show that it takes seven repetitions for a person to retain information. Sticking to your key messages and repeating them long after it feels like overkill will drive greater success.

The more engagement and communication that key stakeholders have with your employees the better; the more that end users are invited to weigh-in, the more likely they are to buy-in to the changes ahead. Incorporating the right people – likely a bigger group than you first realize – in the process, versus simply making change happen, is critical to overall success of a technology implementation.

Learn more

With a thorough Change Management plan that includes both intentional engagement and communication, technology adoption and implementation success are far more likely. If you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out.