Change Management: The Key Questions to Set Your Technology Investment Up for Success
The first installment of this three-part series on change management covered what change management is (and isn’t), and why it’s such a critical practice for organizations that want to ensure their success in an ever-evolving marketplace environment. We explained how a formal change management process is about much more than simple project success. And we looked at how the many project, workforce, and business benefits of formal change management can transform your business’ capabilities and opportunities.
But what does that actually look like in practice?
The truth is, it depends. Rightpoint’s change management team is trained in the Prosci ADKAR Model and are certified as a FastTrack Ready Partner. But, that doesn’t mean we offer only a single one-size-fits-all change management solution. Far from it. The Prosci ADKAR Model provides a framework and common language that serve as a starting point. From that foundation, we work with each client to understand their unique circumstances and adapt the methodology to suit their specific needs. This approach allows us to use all the best practices in a way that makes sense while remaining flexible and scalable.
That said, there are a few elements of any change management initiative that are fairly universal.
Starter Questions: Knowing What to Ask Puts You on the Right Path
Successful change management always starts with deep listening. And to ensure that you are able to listen effectively, you need to know how to ask the right questions.
It’s a common mistake to think that technology alone can deliver change. Simply implementing new software is not enough. In fact, technology implementation without good change management may set your organization back instead of pushing it forward. Instead of focusing exclusively on the technology, you need to think about the human connection to that technology—the points in the journey where humans and technology are combined to deliver either value or friction for the customer.
To put it another way, change management is less about the actual change you’re making (launching a new software, for instance) than it is about how making that change will affect your company’s culture, your employees’ day-to-day workflows, and—ultimately—your customer experience.
With that context in mind, it only makes sense to think about technology from the human perspective. This means that the most important questions you can ask are the ones that help you understand how technology will affect people, both employees and customers.
- What is the data telling you? Start with the numbers. What data can you look at to assess what’s happening now, in the “before” state? What patterns and opportunities can you identify?
- What does the customer want? A “customer” can be a member of an external, or internal audience. Listen to customers to determine the ultimate goals from both a personal and a business perspective, but don’t forget to frame the entire conversation around the customer experience.
- What does the customer need? After hearing about what customers want, take a step back to think about what they actually need. Partnership and collaboration with a Business Analyst is crucial at this stage - to ensure nothing is missed.
- How does this improve workforce efficiency? What opportunities exist to increase speed, productivity, or accuracy? How does that translate into key messaging that will resonate with the identified audience segments?
- How is a user’s overall experience improved? Put yourself in the employee’s (end user’s) shoes. How exactly will your daily workflows change because of the new technology? What will be easier, more accessible, faster? These messages will be important throughout the communications phase of the project.
- What is the ROI, and what is driving it? How are you defining success, and what business challenges, risks, and objectives are behind that definition? Distilling change investments down to quantifiable measures is possible with the right level of access to data, and typically requires partnership with our client’s Finance team.
- How does this change impact the company culture? Remember, you need to think about the human element at least as much as the technology element. How will this change affect the way people get their work done, interact with one another, interact with outside partners and customers and perceive the impact on their own role?
- What’s the opportunity cost? What are you saying no to by saying yes to your chosen solution? What doors will close after you’ve implemented the change, or if you change nothing at all?
The Process: Applying a Basic Framework That Is Flexible and Adaptive
While the actual details of a full change management initiative vary from organization to organization and project to project, there are some high-level process phases that can be applied to most engagements.
Phase 1: Initiation and Discovery
During this phase, the team poses and answers the key questions outlined above, does a thorough review of the current state and existing assets, and captures project goals along with an approach for delivering on those goals. In addition, the team identifies “Change Champions” within the organization and defines their role in ensuring the successful implementation and adoption of the organizational change. This is also the point at which the team determines the most relevant set of deliverables, maps the key stakeholders, and conducts preliminary stakeholder interviews.
Phase 2: Planning
Every successful change management initiative has two key plans. The Change Plan is a living document that provides a phased strategy along with the appropriate tactics to drive immediate success. The Communications Plan helps drive adoption and sustainability by ensuring that each audience is informed about the change in the right way at the right time.
Phase 3: Execution
This phase includes the development of assets and materials, ongoing support in meetings and at launch events, and continuous consulting on change management best practices. Deliverables may include tactical creative such as key messaging, campaign concepts, and testing to ensure successful asset delivery. They may also include strategic items like a Stakeholder and Resistance Management Plan to identify known barriers to the project’s success.
Phase 4: Handoff and Support
In the final phase, the Rightpoint team hands off campaign assets, may deliver a final Style & Tone Guide for future reference, and may provide additional coaching support in the form of quick training guides, incentive structures, performance measurement, leadership toolkits, and so forth.
Change Can Be Scary. Good Change Management Makes It Less So.
It’s human nature to fear change. That’s why it’s so important to accompany major changes with a proven change management process that is based on experience and best practices. As we stated in the opening, implementing a technology change is not enough to drive better efficiency, productivity, and business outcomes. Change for the sake of change is almost always a waste of time and money.
Applying a formal change management practice ensures that your investment in new technology will deliver all the value it promised for your employees, your customers, and your business.
Doing change management right doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just start by asking the right questions, listen well at every step in the process, and take full advantage of the existing frameworks that provide structure and guidance throughout the process.
In the next and final installment of this series, we’ll talk about how to measure the outcomes and ROI of change management. But if you have questions, you don’t need to wait. Feel free to reach out and Contact Rightpoint today. We’d love to hear about the change initiatives you have planned to transform your organization, and answer any questions you have about how to make sure they are successful.