When digital transformation projects fail, the technology isn’t usually to blame. Most of the time, the issue is a people problem. If your workforce is not properly prepared to embrace their new way of working, this could be a recipe for disaster.
By understanding the organizational change process and prioritizing organizational change management, you can equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to move confidently in a new direction.
If you want to ensure long-term digital transformation success, read on to learn how to make organizational change management a pillar in your project.
Why is Organizational Change Management Important?
With so many different tasks and deadlines tugging at your attention, why should you emphasize organizational change management (OCM)?
The answer lies in what you expect to receive from your investment in new technology. Do you want your employees to follow the new processes for a few weeks and then revert to their familiar workflows, or are you wanting to instill permanent change?
With OCM, you lay the groundwork for lasting organizational change. When your workforce is completely prepared for what lies ahead, user adoption rates remain high long after the go-live date. This raises the ROI of your new technology and increases your benefits realization.
Whether you’re installing an ERP system or a different type of enterprise software, OCM should be top of mind at every stage of the project. Let’s take a closer look at what it entails.
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3 Phases of a Successful Organizational Change Process
When most companies think of OCM, they focus primarily on communication and training. While these are necessary components to consider, they aren’t the only ones.
Yes, it’s critical to tailor your messaging and make sure all your functional groups are aware of what’s going on in the project (learn all about how to create an effective change management communication plan in this post).
At the same time, end-user training should also be a top priority as your employees need hands-on practice with the new systems before they integrate them into their day-to-day workflows.
However, the full scale of OCM is much more nuanced and involved. There are steps to take before, during, and after organizational changes are rolled out:
1. Preparing for the Change
Ideally, change management should begin before ERP selection. This way, you have time to conduct assessments and help your employees feel involved from the very beginning.
Five ways to prepare for a major organizational change include:
- Ensure executive alignment
- Conduct organizational readiness assessments
- Conduct organizational impact assessments
- Create customized training materials that fit your business processes
- Develop a comprehensive OCM plan
When you perform these steps early in your project, you can help employees understand exactly why the change is needed and what they can expect moving forward. This can help ease any feelings of confusion before they grow into resentment.
The key questions to ask during this first phase include:
- What do we want to achieve with this project?
- Who will need to do their jobs differently as a result of this project?
- What do those job function changes look like?
- What will it take to be successful?
2. Implementing the Change
When you’re in the middle of a digital transformation, it’s important to consider the people side of every step.
In other words, you should be looking for ways to empower your employees to achieve the goals you’ve set for them. This requires thinking ahead and anticipating prospective challenges and roadblocks. Then, working to prevent, remove, or mitigate any issues that you identify.
Key questions to ask at this point include:
- How will we continue to prepare, support, and engage our employees?
- How are we doing with our OCM goals?
3. Fortifying the Change Post-Live
When the post-live stage has arrived, OCM doesn’t stop. This is the time that most employees start to feel uneasy or resentful about the changes.
Up until the actual switchover, most of the talk about the new systems was just talk. Once employees are required to use the software on a daily basis, many of their worries may be confirmed. Some may refuse to use the tools altogether.
Now is the time to measure user adoption. If you established key performance indicators (KPIs) in the earlier OCM stages, track those results from this point onward. Then, periodically review your progress to see where you need to improve.
Questions to ask include:
- Where are we now, and are we on track for the timeline we set for each KPI?
- What do we need from our OCM team to ensure long-lasting change?
- Who will assume ownership of these initiatives and sustain the outcomes?
During this transitory period, it’s essential to ensure you have a culture of change if you don’t already. This is an environment where employees feel free to speak up, share their concerns, and participate in transformative shifts. Employees are encouraged to share new ideas and are rewarded as they acclimate to the new status quo.
Prioritize OCM to Realize Digital Transformation Benefits
If your project team laser focuses on the technical parts of a digital transformation, you could miss the bigger picture.
The end-users at your company ultimately determine your project’s success. If they aren’t on board, then it doesn’t matter how innovative the new system is – even one of the top ERP systems will fail you if end-users don’t fully adopt it.
Managing the organizational change process is a multi-part effort that doesn’t stop when software goes live. Contact our change management consultants below to request a free consultation and learn more.