How to Create Effective Technology Change Management in Your Business

How to Create Effective Technology Change Management in Your Business

Developing a custom software solution or application for your business is a great first step toward a more efficient and effective operation. However, building it is just step one. Implementing it in your business and teaching employees how to leverage it in their day-to-day tasks is equally as important as the build! McKinsey found that 70% of digital transformations fail. This is due to businesses not making the effort to create a change management process. The key to making this a smooth process is to have a plan for how you’ll implement and train your team so that you get the most out of your custom solution.

What Is Change Management?

Technology change management is the process of adopting, implementing, and controlling the use of new technologies in your organization. It’s getting a group of people or an organization who is used to doing something a certain way and moving them to a new set of guidelines and operating procedures, without massive disruptions to the daily workflow of the business.

The concept of change management exists because change is difficult for people. Employees invest a lot of effort and time to get good at their job. They have their processes, small automations, and so on. Even if the new system or process is better, uprooting the way they’ve been operating can lead to resistance.

Why Should I Consider Management?

There are a few reasons change management is important:

1. Ensures you get the best possible ROI.

If you roll out a new system without fully understanding how to use it or teaching your team how to use it, certain features and capabilities will go underutilized or never utilized. You need to make sure the change is embraced for it to be successful. It will take a deliberate effort to get all impacted parties to adopt a new process and abandon their closely held habits.

2. Prepares your team.

New technology can be exceptionally overwhelming. With a good change management plan, you can ease your team so they see the value of the new software and are excited to integrate it into their processes.

Without preparation, as you rip away the old tools and put in a new one you risk losing money and clients, potentially creating a backlog of work, and so on. Disruption comes when your team isn’t prepared, so prepare them! Guide them and people will feel confident when the cutover date arrives.

3. Gives time for improvements.

Sometimes when you think you have everything figured out, you find a new problem during implementation. The change management process gives you time to see what’s working and what might need some final tweaks.

Get feedback from your team early and often! They’ll help you identify things that are going to be large issues and showstoppers. It’s a huge advantage to get those insights throughout the implementation, rather than just at the end so you can pivot along the way.

Steps for Successful IT Change Management

Effective change management requires a well-thought-out process and will be unique to each business. Overall, there are five guiding principles every business should follow.

1. Create a Vision and Establish a Firm Cutover Date

First and foremost, you need a vision. Work backward from the ideal. How are your teams organized? Are there roles that aren’t relevant anymore? Are there new responsibilities to oversee the new technology and make sure it’s governed properly? What do your new processes look like?

Don’t let “how are we going to do this?” dictate the vision. Remove constraints and picture the ideal, then get leadership aligned with your vision. Paint them the picture of what the organization will look like after adoption.

Your cutover date is the day that you plan for your new software to be fully up and running. You can work with your development team to plan a realistic cutover date. This date will mark when your team can access the new software. Once you have your cutover date and vision established, you can communicate both to your team to help them prepare for the upcoming change.

2. Find a Champion for the New Technology

With any new technology, some people will inevitably have questions about how it works or how they should use it in their roles. Appoint a leader within your organization to be the “champion” of your new tool. They should be the in-house expert on your custom software and capable of answering questions and walking your team through different processes.

Being the “champion” of the new system isn’t necessarily their entire job function, but this is someone who has adopted your vision and cares enough to make it happen. Ideally, this is a person that stakeholders will see as a peer. Each stakeholder will need to be approached differently and will need a tailored implementation plan, and the champion needs to make the pitch matter to them.

3. Determine Your Execution Plan

With a champion in place, you can move on to planning implementation. You need to know how you will execute the steps to adoption for your team so they have the best chance at success and you get the most out of your new software. Now that the stakeholders have been identified, consider how the new software is going to impact the daily life of each of those stakeholders. Go deep with each stakeholder and understand their pain points.

Address the scale of impact for each stakeholder. Usually, some will be impacted very little while others will have their entire processes turned upside down. Tailor a training plan that is unique to the needs of each stakeholder. Consider e-learning material, creating standard operating procedures, one-on-one training, lunch and learns, etc.

We recommend using an iterative process, where you roll out portions of the software to your team one piece at a time. This allows them to work with a manageable piece of your new platform and get comfortable with its capabilities and functionalities. It lowers the risk as issues arrive and you can more easily determine where the problem is.

You’ll need to create a timeline for introducing new portions of your technology and how long you’ll give your teams to adjust to the new capabilities. Similarly to establishing your cutover date, it helps to establish deadlines during this process to ensure you stay on track and your team knows when to expect the next change. You may even decide to have different cutover dates for each stakeholder group and then an ultimate cutover date when everyone will have made the transition.

4. Plan for Slow-Adopters

No matter how excited your team seems before you bring in new software, there will always be some people who are slower to adopt new tools than others. This is perfectly normal in any size organization and can be addressed with the right strategies and outlets for employees.

My favorite way to identify slow adopters is to identify a set of usage metrics. Those are then reviewed regularly to help hone in on those that need more encouragement. Once you identify who is resisting you can customize training for them. A few ways to help employees get up to speed and feel comfortable with your new technology include:

  • Providing regular employee training for those who need extra help learning the new processes.
  • Approach adoption as an ongoing process. Keep holding meetings, information sessions, lunch and learns, etc. to help employees get familiar and comfortable with the new software.
  • Reward adoption! When an employee has gone through certain training or used the software for a certain percentage of their work or time, reward that effort.
  • Always ask for feedback. The more you show that you care how it affects your employees, the more they’ll realize you’re on their side. This encourages them to help you improve your software and ensure it’s working for them.

5. Establish an Open Feedback Loop

The best thing you can do to ensure a smooth transition is to start communicating long before any change begins happening! Communicate in a variety of ways so make sure everyone is reached. This could include emails, company meetings, smaller meetings, putting read receipts on your emails, or asking for specific actions in your emails. Make sure your communication plan is robust and multi-channeled.

Although implementation might end when you reach 100% adoption, change management is an ongoing process. That’s why you want to create an open feedback loop within your organization so employees always have a place to ask questions, voice concerns, and get answers.

Your team can help you continually look for ways to improve your software both for themselves and for the company. They can offer insights into:

  • Are there areas that could be automated?
  • Ways to further streamline workflows?
  • Processes that could be simplified?

The beauty of custom software is that you own the licensing and can make any changes you need at any point in time. So the more feedback you can receive, the better your product can be.

Get the Most From Your Custom Solution

Don’t let your software sit unused or half adopted. Create a change management plan to implement in your organization so you can enjoy the benefits of a fully customized solution. Also keep in mind that whether you are implementing a customized solution or a productized solution, change management is still key to maximizing the product’s potential, and ensuring a smooth transition for your team. This isn’t exclusive to custom software!

Wondering if custom solutions can help your business? Let’s chat! We can help you assess what solutions best fit your needs.

Recommended for You