Changes to business software and underlying business processes will elicit a variety of responses from employees. Many will embrace change, while others will resist. A significant part of change management includes negotiating the internal resistance to business transformation.
Deeana Radley, Business & Technology Writer, Technology Evaluation Centers
TEC were Media Partners at the Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Management Conference Europe 21-24 October 2019, London
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Employees who receive clear and consistent communication, ongoing assurance, and thoughtful guidance during the implementation of new software will be more likely to adopt the new systems and processes. Instead of feeling uncertain and apprehensive about change, personnel will enjoy the benefits and positive impact that new software implementations can provide.
During implementations of new software systems and business processes, consider the following five tips and best practices to reduce the pain of change.
1. Establish Clear Top-Down Communication Channels
Establishing good communication channels begins with your management and leadership team. Support from the top permeates your organization and encourages acceptance of change. Managers often follow the lead of executives, while other staff take their leadership cues from their managers.
An in-house project manager serves as a vital link between stakeholders and other personnel, communicating key details during the software implementation. All employees and stakeholders should remain informed during the change, ensuring that no one is left in the dark. Every employee must clearly understand their personal involvement and responsibilities, including aspects of change which directly affect them and the training they need to make the most out of new systems and processes.
Communication is always essential, but the value of establishing clear dialog channels during times of change becomes even more important because of potential confusion. People need to understand the reasons for change, such as time savings and greater efficiency of key processes. Placing emphasis on these benefits will provide clarity and reduce resistance.
2. Use All Available Resources
Remain aware of all resources available to stakeholders and staff throughout the change process. These resources include additional hardware and software tools, along with product experts working for the software vendor and key members of any external implementation team.
Start by setting time aside for introductory meetings and planning sessions. This should be determined at a broad organizational level and specific departmental and team groups. Cross-department collaboration allows staff members from all areas to point out issues which may require additional attention and extra resources.
Aside from the appointed in-house project manager, each department and group should have someone they can go to who will take the lead and assume responsibility for overseeing the process within that department or group. This leader should focus strictly on how change affects their particular group.
This approach reassures employees when they need help with managing change. If a hiccup occurs, they know who to rely on for help to get issues resolved. Having dedicated resources readily available for support staff will increase confidence before, during, and after the implementation of new software and business processes.
3. Implement a Thoughtful Training Regimen
A thoughtful training plan for employees using new software programs and processes will promote a smooth transition while reducing the amount of pain and conflict generated by change. The training regimen should cover all concepts and technical aspects required for everyone to evolve alongside new system installations. If possible, set time aside for training during hours which conflict as little as possible with current schedules and duties.
How Should Your Employees be Trained?
Determining the appropriate training method for employees will be an important aspect of change management. Different methods of training staff include:
- Traditional presentations in a boardroom setting
- One-on-one training
- Self-directed learning programs
- Training apps which feature gamification
- User-generated training content
- Group training sessions
- On-the-fly training
It’s important to discuss and determine training requirements which match the needs of employees and stakeholders well before the new software is implemented. Develop a schedule that blends the most appropriate training methods and the best times for staff to engage in learning how to thrive through change.
Time considerations should be part of the plan, along with the style of training provided to personnel. Specific goals should be created and met by the training team, including a detailed timeframe which takes the difficulty of the learning curve into account.
Who Will Provide Training—hgyhSoftware Vendor, Implementer, or Internal Staff?
Management needs to determine who will perform training, whether it’s the software vendor, implementation team, or internal staff—or any combination of the three. If your organization chooses to use the implementation provider or the software vendor for the training, ensure that the training matches the needs and processes of your organization.
Each company is unique in terms of business processes, and the training should reflect valuable industry differentiators. Implementing the correct training methodology will address important aspects of your staff’s job functions within the context of key business processes. Outstanding training minimizes risk, reduces change management costs, and improves productivity, especially at the beginning of the rollout.
4. Empower Personnel
At first glance, it may seem obvious to load additional responsibility on managers and supervisors. Instead, you could empower staff to follow up and report individual progress, along with the advancement of peers within their team.
Delegating responsibility to people who aren’t managers or supervisors will make staff members feel more involved and personally invested in the process of change. Empowering personnel is more likely to increase the quality of collaboration between stakeholders, managers, supervisors, and other staff. Potential paths to empowerment include:
- Providing guided opportunities for self-assessment
- Asking your implementation provider for recommended methods of self-empowerment, appropriate to the software and business process changes taking place
- Supplementing standard training with additional learning opportunities, especially for groups facing steep challenges
- Inviting suggestions from staff on how they would like to implement potential empowerment
- Inviting early adopters, and enthusiastic staff to lead training sessions, share tips, draft process-specific documentation, or otherwise help train their colleagues
These potential paths to empowerment will help staff members at all levels, ensuring that their input will be part of the overall change management process. And management and implementation teams will enjoy a more honest and thorough assessment of how the new work is going.
5. Expect Continued Cultural Change after Implementation
After the software implementation phase has taken place, expect the need to reinforce cultural change throughout your organization. Post-implementation, ensure that communication channels remain wide open between stakeholders and employees, facilitated by the project manager. Employees must feel they can raise challenges along with success stories. Regular progress reports for all will help to keep everything on track, comparing progress with the expected milestones outlined in your implementation plan.
Clearly define the difference between the old way of doing things and the new processes in place. Don’t hesitate to remind everyone why the change is important, and how it will help staff and the company as a whole. Provide training, demonstrations, and regular reminders of how these new business processes and tech tools upgrade individual and company performance.
Enlist heads of departments to demonstrate how the software positively impacts the team and improves their workflows. This leadership is critical when some staff members have difficulty envisioning how the new solution will address problems associated with their particular job assignments while increasing overall productivity.
In short, managing change across multiple departments and stakeholders always represents a challenge. Developing an effective flow of communication with a designated internal project manager and key management staff will help secure solid support for change, while also helping your organization avoid unfortunate implementation mistakes.
Deeana Radley is a business and technology writer with over 5 years of industry insight. She has written extensively on technology trends, software solutions and market developments, and particularly enjoys rendering complex topics accessible to beginners.
Copyright Deeana Radley, Business & Technology Writer, Technology Evaluation Centers