How do you define business transformation success? Does it mean your project was on-time and on-budget, or does it mean more than that?
Just because you adhered to a budget and timeline doesn’t mean your project succeeded. If everyone was working toward the same goal during the project and continues to do so, this is more characteristic of a successful project. In other words, organizational alignment both enables and signifies success.
2020 ERP Report
This report summarizes our independent research into organizations' selection and implementation decisions and their project results.
Organizational alignment is a topic we often mention in our blogs. Today, we’ll discuss one key strategy for achieving this alignment: change management communication.
How to Communicate With Employees to Ensure Business Transformation Success
1. Build a Project Team
When it comes to large-scale projects that involve many stakeholders, it’s essential to form a project team. Part of this project team should include an organizational change management team responsible for determining employees’ change readiness and developing a change management plan.
We recommend designating change agents as key influencers within the change management team responsible for executing many of the communication activities of the change management plan.
2. Communicate Early
It’s far easier to obtain employee buy-in when they understand that the project is an opportunity to improve the company and their individual jobs. As such, your change management team and executives should communicate the nature of change long before it happens.
For example, how significant is the change, and how will employees be impacted? Why is the change necessary, and what improvements stand to be gained?
3. Listen to Employees’ Concerns
We have found that both top-down and bottom-up communication help ensure organizational alignment prior to an ERP implementation or business transformation.
Bottom-up communication is especially important because end-users may have insights that senior leaders don’t have. End-users have this insight as they are the ones performing the business processes.
In addition to insights, end-users will also have concerns. These should not be taken lightly, as employees respond much more positively to change when they know their concerns are seriously considered.
Every client we’ve worked with has had several employees who initially resisted change but became supportive of the project once they had the opportunity to communicate their concerns. This communication often took place one-on-one, but sometimes was facilitated through “town hall” meetings.
4. Manage Issue Escalation During the Project
Once the project is underway, bottom-up communication should not stop. In fact, projects without a communication hierarchy can get derailed by an inconsequential problem if end-users don’t understand how to communicate issues and to whom.
For example, let’s say that during a software upgrade for a system at an asset management firm, a calculation error is discovered in a test environment. End-users escalate the issue to the Chief Risk Officer (CRO). However, the CRO is not tech savvy, so he misinterprets the bug as something that affects live operations. He then shuts down trading operations to investigate the issue. This decision could potentially cost a firm millions of dollars.
5. Share Key Information During the Project
Just as bottom-up communication should continue after the project commences, so should top-down communication.
Relevant information to communicate might include details about upcoming milestones or findings from previous milestones. For example, what business benefits did the company realize from the first phase of the project?
Continuous communication about project goals also is essential for maintaining employee engagement. As project challenges arise, buy-in naturally fluctuates, so it’s important to repeat key messaging to convey why the gain is worth the temporary pain.
How do Employees Perceive Change?
Effective communication requires an understanding of employee perceptions. In general, employees perceive change as something negative.
If your change management approach is to succeed, they must put themselves in the shoes of a typical end-user. From this perspective, change may seem like a cost-cutting measure aimed at eliminating staff. Additionally, new responsibilities may seem intimidating and cause you to feel inadequate.
Considering these fears, it’s important to develop a comprehensive change management plan with a strong focus on employee communication. We have found that poor communication only serves to increase employees’ fears.
Panorama’s ERP consultants understand that employee buy-in is essential to business transformation success. We can help your company align employees around common goals by building a communication-savvy change management team.