The Human Factor in Tech ImplementationBy
The success of a technology implementation is determined by the end users. Change management is perhaps the most critical aspect of any rollout.
Change management leader Prosci, Inc. defines change management as “the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.” While change is inevitable, it can be a little scary when it comes to your job. We’ve all read the headlines that as technology advances, many careers will be impacted and some face potential elimination.
It’s no wonder that employees often view new technology with trepidation. When we implement change, we ask that they throw aside their tried-and-true methods and take our word that this new technology is beneficial and critical to the business. We tell them that this change will add efficiencies and allow them more time for value-adding activities. Ultimately, successful change management takes more than taglines and posters. It’ll put your soft skills to the test as you navigate the human response to change. In order to properly execute change management, there are a few key areas to consider.
PLANNING AND RESOURCES
Proper change management takes time. Like any other aspect of a project, change management requires a well-thought-out plan and the resources to execute the plan. As you build your plan, consider the following:
- Know your organization.
* How well has your organization adapted to change in the past?
* What are your employees’ technical skills?
* How long has your organization been using the current solution?
* How different is the new technology from the old?
- Identify potential obstacles.
- Identify someone to oversee the change management plan.
The tone at the top is crucial to successful change management. Leadership at both senior and middle management levels can either make or break a project, so it’s critical to gain their support. As leaders, their attitude toward the project will be observed by their teams. They are also in the best position to communicate the benefits of the project to their employees in a way that will truly resonate. Their teams will be looking to them for coaching and guidance on how to adopt the change. Finally, they have access to the people you’ll need throughout the project from both a design and testing standpoint. For all these reasons, it’s important to include leadership support in your action plan and provide them with the resources they need, such as key talking points to ensure consistent messaging across the organization.
The first question employees will ask is “What’s in it for me?” As with any kind of change, people need to understand how it’ll impact them and why they should care. Success of the project is in large part defined by employee adoption. This is why it’s key to involve them throughout the project. In order to embrace change, employees need to feel heard.
True ownership comes from involving staff in identifying issues and developing solutions. By involving employees in the design, you’ll gain support and they’ll feel a sense of ownership. When employees feel like they are part of the project and engaged, they will do everything they can to ensure its success. Including employees in the process can also be very beneficial to the project, as it provides the team with different perspectives and insights that lead to more impactful process improvements.
THE HUMAN ELEMENT
When implementing new technology, always keep in mind who will be impacted the most. Your end users will be impacted on a daily basis, and while the technology will be beneficial, in the beginning it’ll be disruptive to their daily routines. It’s your job to help them through this process of change and acknowledge the disruption.
Everyone embraces change at his or her own pace, so it’s important to remain patient with employees. When it comes to technology, not everyone learns at the same speed. Some are very quick to understand how a new system works while others may require additional explanations and time. Knowing this going into a project will make it easier for you to adapt your approach and display genuine empathy and patience with your employees.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Throughout the project from kickoff to even after go-live, employees will be relying upon the team for effective communication. Developing a communication plan starts with the identification and evaluation of stakeholders. Not everyone will be impacted to the same degree, so the communication plan will need to be tailored to the stakeholder, identifying both the communication methodology and frequency.
Communication methods can include email, videos, face-to-face, and group presentations. Employees will have a lot of questions throughout the process, so providing them a place to go such as an internal webpage would be helpful. The site should contain the team structure and names of members, updates, FAQs, and a method to submit questions. Communication works both ways, so the team members must be good listeners and not just focus on relaying information.
TRAIN AND SUPPORT
Training is a critical component of any implementation, allowing an opportunity to not only train employees on the new technology but also processes and behaviors. In training, employees find it helpful to have something to refer to, including job aides, presentations, and videos. Other reference material can include FAQs, process flowcharts, cross maps, and definitions of new terminology. These materials should be reviewed by end users to ensure their effectiveness. Employees should also be provided with a contact method for assistance after go-live. This is especially important so that employees continue to feel supported during the change.
Implementing new technology is exciting and a great opportunity to improve business processes. Change management issues can be avoided by remembering these key areas: develop a solid change management plan that includes a communication component; start the project off on the right foot with leadership support; engage employees in the process; provide training and support; and acknowledge the human element. Enthusiasm is contagious. An organization that’s well prepared for change can accomplish great things together!