Why Change Management is Crucial Before Implementing a New System

Why Change Management is Crucial Before Implementing a New System

In Uncategorized by Roger Lewis

Full article with thanks to: forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2023/04/19/to-successfully-implement-a-new-system-make-change-management-a-priority

In the evolving post-pandemic business landscape, digital transformation is inescapable. Companies across every industry are leveraging technology at the centre of their outlooks and relying on a rapidly growing menu of SaaS and AI solutions to facilitate daily business processes. Spending on digitisation and automation is projected to reach $3.4 trillion U.S. dollars by 2026 (doubling 2022 totals), while tools such as ChatGPT have quickly become household names.

A decision to adopt a new software system generally comes down from the C-suite, and is based on an expectation of increased efficiency, productivity, accuracy or cost savings. In organisations dealing with sensitive financial or medical data, adopting certain digital platforms or processes may be necessary to comply with increasingly strict regulatory environments, as well as evolving global legislation surrounding data management and privacy.

However, as well-intentioned and optimistic as the decision to adopt a SaaS or other digital solution may be (to say nothing of the notorious “honeymoon period” immediately after a B2B software deal is inked), many company leaders fail to develop a process for change management while they sort through the problems that come with a large-scale software rollout. This lack of foresight can throw a wrench in even the best-laid plans.

The ‘Growing Pains’ Of Tech Upgrades

The blunt reality is that, in many cases, the individuals who will be using a new SaaS solution were not involved in the decision to adopt it, which can lead to resistance, frustration and practical difficulties that impede implementation.

Employees may be reluctant to begin using new software or digital tools due to a lack of confidence in their technological aptitude and skill. They may face physical or knowledge barriers that impede use, or be even suspicious that new technology may make certain roles redundant or obsolete.

All of this is intensified for employees who received insufficient coaching or training to familiarise them with the new technology. A 2020 CWJobs survey showed that while organisations worldwide were rapidly increasing investments in digital technology, fewer than 10% of those companies could say they provided sufficient training on the software and tools employees would be expected to use. It’s no surprise, then, that only a quarter of key IT decision-makers reported satisfaction with employees’ ability to use these technologies properly.

Moreover, the process of migrating information from legacy systems to new software platforms can cause an array of logistical problems. Outdated systems that do not integrate well or at all with new digital tools, and previous reliance on non-digital systems (such as pen and paper logbooks and ledgers, Excel spreadsheets, and other non-cloud-based or non-IoT platforms) may all result in a significant upfront labor cost as employees migrate data from one system to another. These employees’ understandable reluctance to engage in tedious processes adds yet another layer of complication to the rollout, even if (as in many cases) the software is designed to ultimately eliminate some of their more onerous tasks.

When company leaders do not take the time to manage a technology rollout, everyone pays the price. Employees have a spate of negative experiences, and companies lose out on the value of the technology they have just purchased.

Meeting Concerns With Empathy

For a software implementation to be truly effective, there has to be a multi-level buy-in at the baseline. Optimally, a decision about adoption should be made in consultation with the employees who will use the new tool. For instance, if a company purchases new payroll software, HR personnel should be involved in choosing the software and should already have an understanding of how it will change their workflow.

However, in many cases, this does not happen. Thus, it is incumbent upon company leaders and managers to work side-by-side with implementation specialists (within the vendor company) to facilitate an effective and empathetic rollout for employees.

This begins with acknowledging their pain points. Employees may express that the old software worked fine; they may not see the need to learn a new system, or to spend the time and effort migrating data and altering processes they have gotten used to. They may share worries about job security or just manifest general resistance to change. All of these concerns should be met with empathy and understanding of the undeniable difficulties that a massive software overhaul entails.

Then, company leaders and implementation specialists must do the work to change employees’ minds. It’s important to note that this does not involve denying or invalidating their concerns. Rather, it entails helping them to see the reasons behind the change: Maybe the previous system was costly and inefficient. Maybe it left the company and its data vulnerable to security breaches or cyberattacks. Maybe it didn’t keep records in a way that complied with industry-specific regulatory requirements. Whatever the reason, giving employees proper context is vital to getting them on board. In some instances, the software company’s marketing team—which often is siloed away from the product’s ultimate end-users—could be helpful in enabling reluctant employees to develop a more positive disposition towards a new system.

Crucially, companies must dedicate time and resources to teaching employees how to use the software and how it will impact and even improve their workflow. Proper training is an important component of an effective rollout. Employees should be given time during the workday to learn the new software, or they should be compensated for training time outside of work hours.

Ideally, once a new digital system is implemented, individual workflows become much more efficient. Maybe employees won’t have to individually log transactions, conversations, or visitors. Maybe complicated forms that previously had to be filled out by hand will now be auto-populated, saving tons of time and effort. These benefits must be highlighted to employees as part of their training.

Maintaining Consistent Communication

Ultimately, establishing a regular pattern of communication between the software provider and a company liaison is key, both to minimise disruption to employee users and facilitate the most successful rollout possible. That’s why it’s important to establish regular check-ins between the provider and the company to discuss the progress of the rollout, any outstanding information or tasks, what skills the employees are mastering, and what’s happening next for everyone.

A mindful and predictable pattern of communication is vital to successful implementation. It helps not only to ensure that the burden of a rollout doesn’t fall too heavily on employees, but also to set expectations and plan for a successful future in which companies gain the full value of their software investment.

Full article with thanks to: forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2023/04/19/to-successfully-implement-a-new-system-make-change-management-a-priority

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