These days, citizens expect the public sector to deliver the same value and level of service that their favorite commercial brands offer. To achieve this, government organizations must create a cost-conscious culture of improvement.

Many public sector organizations are implementing enterprise software to improve services and lower costs. However, these benefits often remain elusive, and the reason isn’t what you’d expect.

While technical problems can derail a software implementation, it’s people and process issues that are often the real culprits. This is especially the case when organizations lack an organizational change management (OCM) plan. 

Successful public sector change management looks much like it does in commercial businesses. However, there are unique considerations that the public sector must keep in mind.

2024 Top 10 Government ERP Systems

This independent report reveals what ERP vendors our consultants most frequently consider for public sector clients. These vendors enable states, municipalities, nonprofits, and other public sector entities to be more data-driven.

The Purpose of Change Management in the Public Sector​

There are several reasons that change adoption can be more difficult in the public sector than the private sector:

  • Lack of operational layer or superior oversight to enforce accountability
  • Organizational silos are more common
  • Fewer merit-based rewards and incentives

This is where organizational change management becomes invaluable.

Consider a municipality implementing ERP software. The municipality could develop a change management plan that encompasses customized training, strategic communication, and quarterly assessments. This would help the organization break down silos and hold employees accountable for effectively using the new software.

As a result, the software implementation would be more likely to deliver benefits that streamline operations and optimize the use of taxpayer money. 

In this scenario, and most others, a change management plan is essential. The right approach can help public sector teams . . . 

  • Minimize the learning curve
  • Improve employee retention
  • Decrease the time it takes to realize a return on investment
  • Proactively identify and manage risks

How to Employ Change Management in the Government Sector

1. Assess the Situation​

Government organizations must understand the “people issues” at play before jumping into change management activities. This means assessing the level of change readiness among employees, executives, and other stakeholders.

By understanding employees’ attitudes towards change as well as the organizational culture and current processes, organizations can determine the level of change management their project requires.

Our change management consultants often help government agencies conduct organizational assessments to help them understand what it will take to get their teams ready, willing, and able to embrace change. Then, we help them develop a change management plan with the right training and communication strategies for their unique situation. 

2. Train Employees

Employee training in the public sector should go beyond the transfer of knowledge. Traditional approaches often limit training to a select few, leaving the wider employee base in the dark. 

In fact, most software implementers will only train core project team members. 

It’s important to train employees from all departments impacted by the new software and processes. This ensures that employees across the board, from frontline staff to upper management, are equipped with the skills and knowledge to navigate the new landscape.

3. Communicate Sooner Rather Than Later

Often, employee resistance is rooted in uncertainty. 

How will the new ERP system affect our workflows? What pain points is the new geographic information system (GIS) expected to solve?

Using a formal communication plan, government agencies can keep all stakeholders in the loop regarding project milestones, individual expectations, training schedules, and other key topics.

Transparency and timely communication are the cornerstones of trust during periods of change. Proactive communication ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing rumors and misinformation.

4. Listen to Feedback​

When employees raise concerns, project leaders might cringe, but they should actually be taking notes. These interactions provide a goldmine of information, so project teams should facilitate feedback sharing as much as possible.

After project completion, feedback becomes even more important. It’s a pulse of how well the organization is adopting the changes, whether it be new technology, new processes, or new roles and responsibilities. 

Our ERP project recovery consultants often work with organizations that are ignoring feedback and other success measures. We help them get their project back on track by establishing feedback loops to acknowledge concerns and incorporate insights into continuous improvement efforts. 

Filling in the Gaps in Your Change Management Plan

While your vendor or value added reseller may help you with certain change management activities, there are usually significant gaps in their approach. Our team of organizational change management consultants can fill in these gaps to help you train all impacted employees, communicate project details, and measure results after go live.

Request a free consultation below to learn more.

About the author

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Panorama Consulting Group is an independent, niche consulting firm specializing in business transformation and ERP system implementations for mid- to large-sized private- and public-sector organizations worldwide. One-hundred percent technology agnostic and independent of vendor affiliation, Panorama offers a phased, top-down strategic alignment approach and a bottom-up tactical approach, enabling each client to achieve its unique business transformation objectives by transforming its people, processes, technology, and data.

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