Change is inevitable but not always popular. When initiating any change within your organisation it is usually prudent to expect a certain level of resistance. The introduction of new systems and technology into your business is no different. How you manage the change is crucial to the success of the new system implementation.
When you are investing precious resources into new software systems it makes sense to also invest in the people expected to adopt the new technology. Especially when failing to do so could negatively impact the project’s success, preventing the business from achieving full value from the new systems.
What is change management?
Change management is a structured approach to implementing new processes within an organisation. The objective of change management is to prepare and guide employees to successfully adopt new processes or technology, seeking to drive successful outcomes as individuals adapt to a transitioning work environment.
Organisational change management should be considered as complementary to project management. While project management ensures the design, development and delivery of the project’s purpose, change management guarantees the project’s solution is effectively accepted and used.
Planning for change
Change management requires a company to first identify the groups and people affected by the project, and the ways they will need to change their work practices and activities. Managing change within an organisation involves the development of a detailed plan.
Establish what your business needs are. Identify these, before undertaking research to determine the best solutions for your business. Software projects that are unsuccessful generally result from a poor strategy and inadequate business planning. A further source of strife is the failure to understand commercial drivers and the benefits you expect for your business.
Leading and managing change
Strong leadership is essential to achieving change management objectives. A strong project manager is needed for the implementation phase, ideally someone who is engaged with and willing to guide the implementation project. This person can manage challenges as they arise and keep things progressing efficiently.
Communicating for change
Good teams work together and make sure that every member understands what is expected of them by maintaining effective communication. It will take time for everyone to adjust to a new system. This will happen much sooner if employees are provided with all relevant information early in the process and feel that they are being continuously kept in the loop.
The project manager is the natural point of contact for all types of communication relative to the software implementation and should be responsible for detailing what can be expected. Set a timeline for the implementation and communicate the benefits and efficiencies the project will achieve.
Learning and development
In addition to keeping employees informed prior to new software releases, make sure that all affected employees are provided the necessary tools and training to accomplish a successful software implementation. Just as important is ensuring everything pertaining to the implementation has been properly installed for their use.
Maintaining success after “Go Live”
The importance of ‘Go Live’ shouldn’t be underestimated. Failure to deliver on time can essentially derail a project. Significant goodwill is dependent on timely delivery, particularly when change management activities have been successful and people have invested time and effort into a new software launch.
Even after everything is running smoothly and your employees have adapted to the new systems and processes, it is necessary to continue to manage and monitor to ensure employees are still correctly using the software as it was intended.