Whether you’re undergoing large-scale organizational change or a software upgrade, user acceptance and adoption rises in direct proportion to the user’s sense of involvement. In other words, people are more willing to accept change if they feel they have ownership over what’s going on. This means that the earlier you start investing in your people, the more successful you’ll be with bringing in new software.
Case study: Introducing Andy
Andy works for a large corporate organization and he’s just received an email from a senior manager. The email says: “Hi Andy. We’ve just delivered a brand new document management solution to your computer. It’s so much better than what we had before. It’s fast and powerful. And you won’t believe how easy it is to use!!”.
Andy’s surprised – because he didn’t really know this was happening – but excited because the previous document package was clunky, and documents were impossible to find since they were stored in many different places. He logs in and takes a look. After a minute, Andy realizes that he has no idea how this thing works, logs out and gets on with his life. It’s not just Andy. His colleagues Sue, Bob, Alyssa and Clark have exactly the same experience. That brand new document management solution is left to gather virtual dust.
This is a true story – although the names have been changed to protect the innocent – and I’ll come back to Andy in a moment.
The majority of change fails
It’s worrying that the huge investments made in change programs rarely yield the required results. Research suggests that most change programs don’t meet their stated goals. There can, of course, be many reasons for failure such as poor leadership, poor planning, lack of resources, or unrealistic goals. However, one factor is head and shoulders above the rest: Your people.
We know that resistance is the biggest barrier to change. And the sad fact is that most organizations don’t focus much on their people when planning or implementing change. Or, worse yet, they only start paying attention to their people when a failure has already happened and money is being lost.
It’s not surprising that change programs can go spectacularly wrong. If an implementation is complicated and no one knows how to use it, people just won’t use it and, worse still, poorly implemented new software can lead directly to staff leaving.
Invest early or repair late
We already know that with a the new software implementation we will have to face the people at one point because they will have to use it – but the question is when? A common practice is to put the cart before the horse and move people from a current software tool to a new one without easing them into the new situation. When that happens, organizations learn quickly that they have to mitigate the change as people start refusing to use the new software. The result is often costly because there is a much longer downtime in productivity and it takes longer to gain people’s trust and buy-in.
Here are some key points that will help you with a short transition and a smart investment:
- Involve people at the beginning of a project to prepare them for the future
- Allow for a transition phase before the new software is implemented
- Invest money for change management as early as the decision for a new software is made so the loss in productivity will be shortened after the roll-out.
What does proper transitioning look like? I’m currently working with a company that takes change management very seriously and brings its people in at the very beginning. Users are invited to share their daily deliverables and requirements as well as being asked to test drive the prototype of the first version of the configured system.
Since the people who are using the system are involved from the outset, the system can be adjusted, minor changes can be made and the users are always given the chance to approve the functionalities. What the company has achieved is a way to build a transition phase into the program while ensuring it’s as brief as possible. The gap between rollout and full usage is very narrow and the system becomes valuable straightaway.
Back to Andy
This brings us back to Andy: It’s a few years later and his company notices it’s time to upgrade the document management package. The company is shocked to discover that no one’s using the software. When they ask why, they find out that it wasn’t as easy to use as they thought, so they begin a proper change management and training program starting with Andy and his colleagues.
Once they see the solution in action and what it can do for them, Andy and the team are delighted. More than delighted, they’re advocates. It’s Andy that reaches out to other departments in the company and talks about the benefits of the solution. Within a few months, an expensive system that had laid dormant for years is now being enthusiastically adopted throughout the organization.
But how much value could the company have gotten from the software if they had thought about change management from the beginning?
Are you adopting EIM technology? Want to know how to get the most from your change management program? Contact Learning Services or visit us at Enterprise World 2019 in Toronto on July 9-11 where you can sign up for the User Adoption breakout session or the User Adoption Strategy two-day Workshop at the pre-conference training.