Change Management is one of the most critical and yet often under resourced part of a project. Good change management will save time, add value and promote success.
Change Management Workshop
The one day workshop will be held on your premises for as many of your team as is relevant to you and while the agenda is entirely flexible I recommend the following sessions;
Change Advisory Team
A discussion around the setting up of a CAT. This should include stakeholders, Senior Management and (often forgotten) end user representation. Ideally an independent consultant should participate as they will not be affected by internal politics and with a foot in neither camp be able to challenge both internal management and the solution vendor in equal measure.
A discussion around the important subject of understanding current practices.
Hold meetings with representatives of all areas of the business before any project plan is announced. Explain the change coming and listen to the immediate reaction.
Be clear as to the areas of the business likely to be impacted and how this may differ. In the example of a global accounting system rollout the impact on the end user is very different to that of the back office Accounts team.
Probably the most important and yet most difficult component of the change management strategy. Clear and frequent communication is essential but the challenge is how. E-mail is typically used as the primary communication tool but has a remarkably low impact. This is a key area for creative thinking as to what will have most effect in the business and I have seen everything from posters on water coolers to 'theme' days in the staff restaurant to software branded cookies delivered to desks. Get staff involved. Create supportive Change Ambassadors that act as evangelists and become a critical part of the communication strategy.
You are introducing change for a reason. It may be to improve efficiency, reduce cost, replace something that doesn't work, enable access to information or introduce new ways to win business. Whatever the reason focus on the positive and include promotional messages in all communications.
with any legacy system it should be relatively easy to identify frustrations and pain points. Use these as 'we've listened to you' points in communications and describe how the new system will make life better.
Touch Point Focus
However large the project or system there may only be a small number of areas or functions that impact the end user. It is important to focus on these and where possible consider a phased approach to these changes. Is it practical for example to leave the existing reporting or time recording function in place until the core system has bedded down?
System V Process
Many firms see the introduction of a new software system as an opportunity to introduce new processes and practices. The thinking is based on taking immediate advantage of new functions/tools and getting as much change out of the way as possible. This can be a very risky strategy. It is often the process change that gives users the most pain and the new system will likely unfairly take the blame. Worse still, key metrics such as system performance will be very difficult to ascertain when users are struggling with the process change. If practical, consider separating system and process change into two defined phases of the project.
Help users adapt to change by updating all relevant firm training, documentation and references to the new system. This might include the on-boarding process, marketing materials, the firms mission statement on the website or even the performance review process.
Post rollout support is critical. Most firms have well embedded support processes that typically involve a form of help-desk usually run by IT. Do not assume that the existing arrangement will adequately cope with the change. Floor walking, catch up training and access to SME's (subject matter experts) should all be considered.