The outcome of your organizational change management efforts hinges significantly on your timing. So, how is timing important to change management? Well, if you wait too long, the shock of the change overshadows any benefits that new technology and processes provide. Approach it earlier, however, and you give employees more time to mentally process the changes.
How is Timing Important to Change Management?
Employees need to understand the purpose of the ERP project or business transformation as well as the important role they play. In other words, what will be expected of them throughout the project and after implementation?
As you can imagine, communicating this information only a few times does not make it stick, so we recommend giving employees plenty of time to process organizational changes before implementation begins. This way, they feel involved and know that their input matters.
4 Reasons to Begin Change Management Efforts Early
1. You’ll Have Time to Assess Business Readiness
Before beginning any business transformation, it’s essential to conduct a business readiness assessment. This single step can help you determine if your organization has the expertise, resources and culture necessary to support and sustain a major shift.
If you begin change management too late, you might find yourself scrambling and looking for ways to save time. Guess what gets cut? Your business readiness assessment.
A few of the key questions you can ask to assess business readiness include:
- Do we have a clearly defined enterprise strategy?
- Does our project align with this strategy?
- What is the scope of change?
- Do we have the support and buy-in of our executive team?
- Is our culture generally accepting of change?
- Do we have the resources and expertise to develop and execute a change management plan?
Though the specific questions you use might be unique to your project, most have one goal – they’re meant to determine if you’re ready to embrace change as an organization and handle every aspect of change management.
Note that certain organizational attributes, such as cultural issues, are considered high-risk, and may be a sign that your organization is not ready to begin an ERP project or business transformation.
If this is the case, don’t fret. You’ve started the change management process early, so you have plenty of time to focus on change management activities that can prepare your employees before the project starts. While it’s human nature to eagerly pursue innovation, postponing the kickoff of a new initiative to focus on your people could be in the best interest of your company.
Change Management Success Story
The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.
2. You Can Avoid Change Fatigue
One of the most common sources of change resistance is change fatigue – this is the sense of apathy or resignation that employees feel when an organization enacts multiple changes in a short period of time without proper planning or communication. Feelings of fatigue are especially common when changes are sprung on employees without warning.
While implementing multiple changes at once may be unavoidable, you can minimize change fatigue by at least giving employees time to prepare for upcoming changes, so they don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed.
3. You’ll Drive Buy-in
What happens when you wait until the month before go-live to inform employees that there are major changes coming that will affect the way they do their job? You’ll likely encounter pushback and resistance. This is why it’s important to develop a communication plan as early as possible.
Only 30% of organizations surveyed in our 2020 ERP Report stated that they began communicating with employees before ERP selection. It’s unfortunate that more organizations don’t communicate early because all of the organizations that communicated with employees before selection indicated that they considered their project a success.
Soliciting executive and employee buy-in early reduces change resistance and gives you the momentum you need to execute ERP selection and pre-implementation activities in a timely manner.
While initial buy-in is important, you need a supportive, involved workforce for all phases of your project. For example, before implementation, you will need employee involvement in business process reengineering efforts. In addition, after go-live, a supportive workforce is essential as they will be more likely to effectively use new ERP software, which ensures you achieve expected ERP business benefits.
4. The Technical Implementation Can Distract from Change Management Efforts
If you’re planning to implement new technology, such as an ERP system, your project team will eventually be focused on hands-on technical activities to migrate data and deploy the new system. This is not the ideal time to try to develop a change management plan.
While you may have a dedicated change management team that can solely focus on the human aspect of change, this team will need the support of other project team members to truly develop and execute an effective plan. However, these team members may be tempted to mostly focus on technical activities during ERP implementation – unless you set expectations.
When you begin change management before ERP implementation, you have plenty of time to integrate it into your overall project plan so team members know what people-focused activities will be essential during implementation and how they can support these efforts.
Do You Have Enough Time to Prepare Employees for Change?
If you begin change management early, you’re not rushing to try to fit in organizational assessments, focus groups, training, communication and other essential activities into a few short months. Effective change management takes time, so be sure to build this into your project plan.
If you’re wondering, “How is timing important to change management?”, then we’d love to connect and explain in greater detail. Request a free consultation below to meet with one of our organizational change management consultants.